LONDON: Time is up for West Bromwich Albion.
A 3-1 loss at Arsenal on Sunday sealed West Brom’s fate as the second team to get relegated from the Premier League this season, after Sheffield United, and ended manager Sam Allardyce’s proud record of never having been demoted from England’s top division in his 30-year managerial career.
West Brom had staged something of a revival under Allardyce with three defeats in their previous 11 games before Sunday’s trip to north London.
But time ran out as a 19th defeat of the campaign left next-to-last West Brom 10 points from safety with just three games remaining.
Goals by Emile Smith Rowe, Nicolas Pepe and Willian condemned West Brom to an immediate return to the second-tier Championship.
Allardyce, the former England manager, joined West Brom in December with the team in 19th place and owning a reputation as a survival specialist. He hadn’t been relegated with any of the previous seven top-flight clubs he managed, but this was always going to be his biggest challenge.
“It’s not sunk in yet, but I’m sure I’ll wake up tomorrow and realise the situation,” the 66-year-old Allardyce, who replaced the sacked Slaven Bilic in December, told BT Sport.
“I’m bitterly disappointed we’re not still in the fight. We had [enough] time to pull it round. Our real problem was not beating the bottom-six sides when we came up against them. The results against Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City should have been bonus points.
“I’m not saying we would have avoided relegation but at least we should have been closer, we should have been in the last three games, based on how we performed. The creating of chances has been there but the conversion has not.”
West Brom arrived at the Emirates Stadium needing a win to maintain their slim hopes of beating the drop. But they were 2-0 down just past the half-hour mark thanks to well-taken goals from Smith Rowe and Pepe.
Matheus Pereira pulled one back in the 67th minute after running the length of the Arsenal half. But Willian’s 90th-minute free-kick, his first goal for Arsenal, confirmed West Brom’s fate.
Victory for Arsenal came just days after they failed to reach the Europa League final following a lacklustre goalless draw against a Villarreal side managed by former Gunners boss Unai Emery.
“We needed that win,” said Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta. “It has been a while since we won at home.”
WEST HAM WOE
Across London, West Ham United’s top-four bid suffered a major setback with a 1-0 defeat by Everton.
West Ham had a gilt-edged opportunity to pile the pressure on fourth-placed Leicester City in the battle for a top-four finish but remained five points behind with three games left after a disappointing performance against Everton.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored Everton’s winner in the 24th minute, for his 16th goal of a campaign, and Carlo Ancelotti’s team still have much to play for as they are three points behind West Ham also with a game in hand.
West Ham have 58 points to Leicester’s 63 with Chelsea now looking strong for a top-four spot with 64. Liverpool are back in the hunt in sixth place, a point behind West Ham with a game in hand.
“It’s not over. Far from it. We’ve got three games to play and we’ll keep going for it,” West Ham boss David Moyes said.
Published in Dawn, May 11th, 2021