Arsenal bounced back from Thursday evening’s disappointing UEFA Europa League exit to Villarreal by comfortably sweeping aside West Bromwich Albion at the Emirates Stadium last night, winning 3-1.
A first Premier League goal for Gunners academy graduate Emile Smith Rowe set the ball rolling, handing Mikel Arteta’s side a 29th minute lead, before Nicolas Pepe doubled the Gunners’ advantage six minutes later.
With West Brom knowing that a defeat would see them relegated back to the Championship, they did find a route back into the game through Brazilian ace Matheus Pereira on 67 minutes.
However, any hopes the Baggies had of avoiding an immediate return to the second-tier were dashed in the closing stages of the contest when Willian scored his first goal for the club since signing from Chelsea last summer.
Despite the midweek disappointments felt in the Europa League, victory over the Baggies means Arsenal have now won back-to-back Premier League matches for the first time since January, offering a sense of optimism that they can end the season on a high.
With three games left to play, the Gunners are now ninth in the table, three points behind eighth-placed Everton.
After being left frustrated by not progressing to the final of the Europa League, the win over Sam Allardyce’s side will have started the healing process, although there is still a lot more work to be done before the Gunners are fully recovered.
Here, football.london has taken a close look at how the national media reported Arsenal’s return to winning ways, which in turn sent the Baggies back to the Championship.
“They certainly aren’t ‘boring, boring’ Arsenal any more,” Graham Bryce wrote for The Sun. “At least, not when disgruntled fans keep their pitchforks close to hand protesting outside the Emirates.
“However, Mikel Arteta must have breathed a huge sigh of relief when his players held out to scrape a win of any kind at the end of another volatile week.
“Of course it doesn’t make up for a calamitous league campaign or even put a sticking plaster on the gaping wound caused by crashing out of the Europa League to Villarreal on Thursday.
“But any recovery has to start somewhere.
“And Arteta will be happy to have negotiated this potential banana skin without adding more injury to insult.
“When the kids are united Arsenal look less likely to be defeated.
“And once again Arteta had his baby-faced assassins to thank for setting up a deserved win.”
“West Brom are dropping down a level and maybe Arsenal have found theirs,” Riath Al-Samarrai wrote for the Mail.
“They aren’t up to much when it matters against the bigger kids, but put them in with the lame and the broken and you watch them dance.
“There were times here when they were actually rather decent. Not brilliant, of course, but decent. On top, comfortable, that sort of decent, particularly in the first half. Even Willian had a strut and a swagger about him.
“But it’s all part of the mystery, isn’t it? That a side so hopeless and so flat in a game of great significance on a Thursday can find a bit of drive and verve in a fixture of such limited consequence on a Sunday.
“A bit, because Arsenal do not do absolutes. A bit, because nothing is ever fully super in these parts these days, beyond the delusions of their ownership.
“A bit, because it is all a middling mess, which is how they came to make a battle of a sure thing in this game, before eventually inflicting Sam Allardyce’s first relegation from the Premier League.”
“After starting on the right wing against Villarreal, Bukayo Saka was deployed at left-back as Mikel Arteta continues to ease Kieran Tierney back into action following his knee injury,” Freddie Keighley wrote for the Mirror.
Do you want all the latest news from around Arsenal Football Club straight to your email inbox?
Of course you do.
By signing up for our Arsenal newsletter, you will receive a twice-daily email, focused on all the latest news from the Emirates Stadium.
And, not only that, but you will get exclusive content from our club writers Chris Wheatley and Kaya Kaynak before anyone else.
You won’t miss a thing when it comes to the Gunners.
How do you sign up?
It’s easy and only takes seconds.
Simply type your email address into the box at the top of this article – or any article on the Arsenal section of football.london in fact – labelled ‘Get the biggest daily stories by email’ and click ‘Subscribe’.
Alternatively, you can click here and tick the Arsenal box to subscribe for our Gunners newsletter.
If you decide later that you no longer wish to receive the emails, simply follow the unsubscribe link in one of the newsletters – but we don’t think you’ll want to.
“Ever-dependable and constantly creative, Saka flourished on the flank with his runs to the byline and his exquisite delivery to the box.
“His cross to set up Emile Smith Rowe was just one of many probing deliveries he produced throughout the match which could – and often should – have led to goals.”