Live Commentary: Arsenal 1-0 West Bromwich Albion - as it happened
Find out how Arsenal defeated West Bromwich Albion 1-0 at the Emirates Stadium with Sports Mole's text updates.
By Liam Apicella, Features Editor Filed: Sunday, May 4, 2014 at 12:30 UK
Last Updated: Monday, May 5, 2014 at 11:44 UK
Arsenal played host to West Bromwich Albion this afternoon with the visitors in need of the win to secure their Premier League status for another season.
As it was, they will have to wait until next time out against Sunderland to claim the necessary points because Olivier Giroud's first-half goal for Arsenal proved to be enough for the home side to seal the victory.
You can find out how the match unfolded with Sports Mole's minute by minute updates below.
12.32pmAfternoon all. Virtually every Premier League now has something riding on it and this one is no different. While Arsenal's place in the top four is guaranteed, West Bromwich Albion still need one more victory to secure their Premier League status. With Arsenal also in the FA Cup final later this month, it means that they cannot afford to slack off. As a result, it should make for an entertaining encounter at the Emirates Stadium.
12.35pmBefore we look a little deeper into this contest, the team news has just started to filter through. We have the West Brom starting lineup with us, so let's bring you that first of all...
12.40pmIt seems that West Brom boss Pepe Mel has opted for a 3-5-2 formation today, with Diego Lugano recalled to the heart of the defence. Going forward, the Spaniard has not made many alterations, with young striker Saido Berahino given the nod again as a lone centre-forward, with Stephane Sessegnon offering the support from an advanced role. Chris Brunt is also included, while James Morrison has been recalled to the midfield.
12.45pmArsene Wenger has made just the one change to the side that beat Newcastle United last time out, with Mathieu Flamini replacing Aaron Ramsey, who is not in the squad. Reports have claimed that the Welsh midfielder picked up a knock in training, although it is not thought to be a serious problem. Elsewhere, Santi Cazorla, Mesut Ozil and Lukas Podolski will play behind lone frontman Olivier Giroud.
12.48pmAlso, there is a welcome inclusion on the bench for the Gunners in the form of midfielder Abou Diaby. The Frenchman has not had much luck with injuries of late, but he could potentially feature today:
12.52pmRight then, what does a win mean for struggling West Brom today? In all honesty, they probably do not need to win this to stay up. Four points separates them and Norwich City, who occupy the final relegation slot, with Fulham and Cardiff City already demoted. Due to the fact that Norwich's last two matches are against Chelsea (today) and Arsenal, it's unlikely that the Canaries will catch the Baggies. Yet, three points would end any uncertainty that exists within the squad, while a draw will also all but secure their place in next season's Premier League.
12.55pmAnd here are the West Brom players that are charged with the task of picking up the three points.
12.58pmOne of those players, Berahino, has just been discussing this clash with Sky Sports News. Here's some of what he had to say: "We are closer to safety but we are not relying on anyone else. We want to be in control of the situation that we are in. The lads are feeling really confident and we are going to give it our all."
1.01pmAlso talking to Sky Sports News was Arsenal attacker Podolski, who had this to say: "It's very important for us because everyone wants to play in the Champions League next season. It's our last home game so it's important to win. We want to win our last two matches and keep our run going. We have a big game coming in the FA Cup final, so it's important to keep going."
1.03pmTo use a phrase from Podolski, recent form suggests that there is every chance that Arsenal will keep their run going today. Since that opening day defeat to Aston Villa, the Gunners have not been beaten in the Premier League at the Emirates Stadium - winning 12 of those and drawing seven.
1.06pmWhat's more, West Brom have not been great on the road this term, having won three and lost on eight occasions. Having said that, two of those victories have been picked up during their previous four away encounters. They have not won in London, though.
1.11pmOn Sky Sports just now, Glenn Hoddle and Jamie Redknapp have just been discussing Ozil's first season in the Premier League with Arsenal. The verdict from both is that there is plenty more to come from the German international, particularly in the bigger games. In fairness, it's hard to argue with that assessment. From his 24 outings in the League, Ozil has scored five goals and made nine assists. With the sun shining in North London, he could well flourish today.
1.15pmAfter an injury-hit start to the campaign, Ozil's compatriot, Podolski, has excelled in recent weeks. In his last three matches, the 28-year-old has scored four goals. With FA Cup final places up for grabs, he's come into form at just the right time, unless you're of a West Brom persuasion that is!
1.19pmBack to West Brom and former Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson has been discussing Mel's future at the club on BBC Sport. Here's what he had to say:
"The Baggies are not safe mathematically yet but I am sure they will be fine. If he does keep West Brom up, Pepe Mel will have done his job but, if I were him, I would want some assurances before next season - like money to spend on some new strikers for starters."
1.23pmPREDICTION: Hopefully this is proven to be wrong, but there is every chance that this will have a real end of season feel about it. West Brom still need a victory to guarantee safety, but with Norwich looking doomed, it may not be essential. Let's go for Arsenal to win 2-0, with a goal apiece from Giroud and the in-form Podolski.
1.26pmAs the players filter into the tunnel, Wenger has just spoken to Sky Sports News: "We want to be consistent, but we want more. We want to win our remaining games. We don't want to switch off and need to keep going."
1.28pmBoth teams are out on the pitch and the handshakes have been completed. Not long now until we are off and running in North London.
1 minKICKOFF! Visiting West Brom, attacking from right to left during the first half, get this contest underway.
4 minNothing too much to report so far accept for the fact that West Brom have indeed started with a three-man defence. Some had predicted that Brunt may drop in at left-back, but he's operating more as a wing-back, with Morrison carrying out a similar role on the opposite flank.
5 minCHANCE! Trademark move from Arsenal as Ozil dinks the ball into Giroud, who under pressure, lays a pass into the path of Podolski 12 yards from goal. His shot his instant, but the contact was not clean enough as it flies harmlessly wide of Ben Foster's upright. With his recent form in mind, you'd have fancied the German to score from there.
8 minCHANCE! Meanwhile, up the other end, Berahino should have done much better. He's put through on goal by Brunt, but with Szczesny to beat, he hesitates, allowing Koscielny to retreat in the process. He's still able to get a shot away, but the Arsenal defender does well to block and the home goalkeeper then comes off his line to collect with ease.
11 minThe French full-back is out of contract in the summer, but it seems that the home supporters are keen for him to extend his stay at the club:
Arsenal fans chanting: "Bacary Sagna - we want you to stay." Could be his last game at the Emirates.
14 minWell, that was ever so simple - just like buttering bread for a striker of Giroud's ability. Cazorla sends his corner from the left towards the near post, where a darting Giroud is too quick for a static Dawson. It's then all about the accuracy of the header, which he powers downwards and out of the reach of a helpless Foster in the West Brom goal.
18 minArsenal's tails are now well and truly up. They are passing the ball around with real confidence, toying with their West Brom counterparts in the process. The likes of Ozil and Cazorla are really starting to dictate play and if this continues, you cannot help but feel that a second goal isn't too far away.
23 minMuch better from West Brom as Berahino, Morrison and Dorrans link well on the edge of the area to force a corner. It is eventually cleared by the Arsenal defence, but at least it's a sign of intent from the visitors.
25 minHaving seen the likes of Wayne Rooney and Jonjo Shelvey score from ridiculous distances this season, West Brom midfielder Morrison has just tried his luck from 40 yards out. Had it been on target Szczesny may well have been struggling, but the lofted attempt drifted harmlessly wide.
29 minAfter those couple of West Brom attacks, the match has reverted back to type, with Arsenal passing the ball around under very little pressure. You can understand West Brom's reluctance to push hard in attempt to win back possession, but at this rate, they are going to be leaving with nothing.
31 minOuch! Poor old Dawson. A shot hit by Flamini was travelling at some speed when it struck him a (how shall we put this?!) delicate area! It certainly looks like it's taken the wind out of his sails, although he is now back on his feet and the game has continued.
35 minSAVES! All of a sudden, Szczesny is awoken from his slumber. Dorrans's shot from distance causes the Arsenal keeper big problems, so much so that he can only parry the ball straight out in front of him. Berahino then sends the rebound hopelessly over, but luckily for him, he's flagged offside. Moments later, up the other end, Foster shows great reflexes to top wide Cazorla's low drive from inside the area.
38 minWhile Arsenal have been neat and tidy in possession, they've also worked ever so hard without the ball so far. Even the likes of Cazorla and Podolski - playmakers - are putting in a decent shift high up the pitch. It's making it hard for West Brom to string any moves together at present.
41 minCHANCE! Set-piece situations are likely to be West Brom's best chance of getting back into this contest, but Dawson has just failed to capitalise on that. He rose well to meet Dorrans's corner, but he could only plant his header well over the crossbar from eight yards out. The defender has never scored for West Brom and with composure like that, you can see why.
45 minThere will be two minutes of stoppage time at the end of this first half.
45+1 minSAVE! Usually a defence-minded midfielder, Flamini has been quite adventurous today. It's he who is picked out on the edge of the area by Giroud, but his low shot is comfortably collected by a diving Foster.
2.18pmThere goes the whistle for the break and in truth, it's been a fairly routine first 45 minutes for Arsenal, who could have been a goal or two better off.
2.22pmAs mentioned, it's been a relatively straightforward afternoon's work for Arsenal so far. They've been very good in possession and have created a number of openings. No doubt Wenger will want his players to convert one of those chances soon after the restart and then perhaps look to introduce Diaby back into the fold following a lengthy absence.
2.26pmFor West Brom, there is not too much that will have disappointed Mel, despite the fact that his team are behind. They've held their own and have caused the odd problem. Having said that, he's bound to be frustrated by the goal that they conceded. The marking for the corner that Giroud scored from was poor to say the least and that's what separates the two teams.
2.29pmLooking at the West Brom bench, they do have options to potentially swing the game back in their favour during the second half. Matej Vydra has been in good form of late, while Victor Anichebe is capable of making a nuisance of himself with his physical presence. And what about the forgotten man Scott Sinclair? He's not played much this season, but he does possess the pace that can cause problems.
46 minRESTART! Neither manager has made a change as Arsenal, who lead 1-0, get the second half underway at the Emirates Stadium.
50 minMr Lineker has a point! His hair hasn't moved one jot!
Olivier Giroud's hair parting is remarkably unscathed by 45 minutes football.
52 minApart from Giroud's hair, there hasn't been much to talk about from the opening minutes of this second half. Arsenal have been in control without truly threatening to score a second goal.
56 minHe may not be the prolific striker that Arsenal need to challenge for the title, but Giroud's workrate cannot be questioned. He's just charged down Olsson's clearance, before winning back possession on the touchline from Dawson, who is forced to clear the danger for a corner. It's lifted the home supporters because they had been very quiet since the restart.
59 minSadly, Lineker's lame jokes about Giroud's hair are more entertaining than the match right now!
Giroud manhandled and bashed to the ground, but not a single hair was dislodged. Man of the thatch.
62 minThat hair of Giroud's has just gone ever so close to scoring a second goal for Arsenal! It's a cross from the left by Ozil that causes West Brom problems. Giroud leaps highest, but his jump is slightly mistimed and the danger is eventually cleared.
63 minARSENAL SUB: The first switch of the match is made by Arsenal and it's captain Arteta that exits the action. He has been replaced by Swedish midfielder Kim Kallstrom.
64 minBOOKING! And moments after making the first substitution, Arsenal collect the first yellow card of the afternoon. Monreal is the offender - the Spaniard clearly tugged back Sessegnon as he attempted to wriggle free from the Arsenal defender.
68 minWest Brom have forced a number of corners today, but their delivery into the area has, by and large, been poor. Two in quick succession moments ago were easily cleared by the Arsenal defence. That is bound to be a source of frustration for Mel because it's one route that his side have of getting back into this game.
70 minARSENAL SUB: Second change for Arsenal and it's the massively popular Cazorla that is given a breather. The Spanish playmaker has been replaced by Tomas Rosicky, who will slot into the midfield.
72 minCHANCE! If Amalfitano could have sorted his feet ouy sooner, West Brom may well have equalised. A pass from Berahino is slotted through to the French winger, but Szczesny scampers off his line to divert the ball behind for a corner. From that, Dawson leaps, but his header lands on the roof of the net, rather than inside it.
74 minCHANCE! You would have put decent money on Ozil wrapping up the points for Arsenal just now. Giroud does brilliantly to head the ball into the German's path, but with Foster to beat from eight yards out, he somehow sends his shot wide of the target. It looked a certain goal, but West Brom have been granted a reprieve. Can they make the most of it?
76 minPOST! Arsenal squander yet another chance! Ozil's square pass is poorly cleared by Olsson, who finds Podolski all alone inside the area. It catches the Arsenal attacker by surprise, but he is still able to send a scuffed half-volley goalwards. Foster is helpless, but thankfully for him and the visitors, the ball cannons off the post and back into his hands.
79 minYou can't help but feel that Loic Remy would have buried one, if not both, of those chances. He's been heavily linked with a summer move to Arsenal and is in the stands today, which is likely to trigger reports that he is on the verge of joining the Gunners. He's been in good form for Newcastle United this season, but I'm not sure he's the type of striker Arsenal need to move on to the next level.
81 minSUBSTITUTIONS: Final switch of the match for Arsenal as full-back Monreal is replaced by club captain Thomas Vermaelen, while striker Anichebe comes on for West Brom in place of Amalfitano.
84 minBOOKING! West Brom captain Brunt goes into the book for dissent. He was frustrated that a foul had been given against Sessegnon on Ozil, although replays showed that the referee had made the correct decision.
86 minWEST BROM SUB: It's a positive switch from Mel, who seemingly believes that West Brom have little to lose now. He's taken off Mulumbu from the midfield and has thrown striker Vydra into the action.
90 minAs three minutes of stoppage time is shown on the board, Berahino gets a huge cheer from the Arsenal fans as he tumbles in pursuit of a loose ball. That's one for the Christmas blooper DVDs!
90+1 minBOOKINGS! Both Giroud and Dorrans go into the book for an altercation off the ball. It all seemed a little unnecessary at this late stage, but there you go.
3.22pmThere goes the final whistle as the curtain comes down on another Premier League season at the Emirates Stadium. Fourth place was already guaranteed for Arsenal, but West Brom are still not safe. They will now have their eyes fixed on Norwich's trip to Chelsea, which you can follow live text updates of with Sports Molehere.
3.24pmThat is all we have time for from North London, but before we go, our match report from this contest is now live on the site. It can be viewed here. Thanks for joining us and until next time, goodbye.