Arsenal began to heal the open wounds suffered as a result of Thursday evening’s UEFA Europa League exit at the hands of Villarreal by defeating West Bromwich Albion 3-1 at the Emirates Stadium last night.
Goals from Emile Smith Rowe, who notched his very first in the Premier League, Nicolas Pepe and Willian sealed a comfortable win for the Gunners, relegating West Brom back to the Championship in the process.
After bowing out of the Europa League at the semi-final stage in midweek, a return to winning ways was exactly what the Gunners needed, regardless of how it came about or who the opponent was.
Admittedly, Arsenal, with respect, should be beating a side like West Brom on their own patch, but performing at the Emirates Stadium has been an issue for them in recent weeks.
Assessing his side’s performance, Gunners chief Mikel Arteta said: “Yes, it’s always the best way to put remedy to the pain that we had. To win the game, to score the three beautiful goals that we did, we created so many chances.
“As well when we conceded the goal we looked nervy for a period before we got Thomas [Partey] on the pitch to regain some control.
“But overall after not going through to the final it was always very important to win the game.”
In truth, despite Baggies boss Sam Allardyce sending a stern warning to Arteta and the Arsenal players ahead of kick-off, the Gunners were always likely to emerge from this one with three points, with the Midlands outfit having been on the cusp of relegation for several weeks.
The victory has lifted Arsenal back above Leeds United, who defeated Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 on Saturday lunchtime, and into ninth place, meaning they are now just three points behind eighth-placed Everton with three games remaining.
But whilst a top-four finish is out of the question, there is still a possibility that Arsenal will be able to secure a Europa League berth, but they would need to perform to their very highest standard in their remaining matches and hope other results went their way.
With that in mind, it appears likely that Arsenal will most probably have to settle for a mid-table finish this term, something Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker always felt would be the outcome of their season.
Following the full-time whistle on Sunday evening, Lineker took to Twitter to post a tongue-in-cheek comment about the Gunners’ current fortunes.
The former England striker said: “Arsenal are back. Always felt they’d finish in the top half of the table.”
It is quite clear that Lineker tweeted that with a sense of sarcasm behind it, but at the same time it does show how far the Gunners have fallen this season.
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At the start of the campaign, there was genuine optimism that the Gunners could have mounted a top-four push, especially after winning both the FA Cup and FA Community Shield under Arteta.
However, that has certainly not proven to be the case, with the Gunners having lacked consistency and quality all season long.
Changes are required in north London this summer and all eyes will most certainly be on Arteta and technical director Edu to see what changes they can implement.