Arsenal secured their place in next season's Champions League with a thrilling victory at the Hawthorns that owed much to a series of errors made by West Brom goalkeeper Marton Fulop.
The 3-2 victory means Arsene Wenger's side finish the season in third place.
Fulop was at fault as the Gunners took a fourth-minute lead through Yossi Benayoun but two quick goals briefly turned the game in West Brom's favour.
But Andre Santos and Laurent Koscielny scored for Arsenal, who held on to win.
The importance of this result cannot be underestimated. While Robin Van Persie was a peripheral figure for much of the match, negotiations with the Dutch striker may prove a good deal easier with Wenger able to offer the guarantee of Champions League football next season.
“Every Gooner will be a Chelsea fan next week....”
The concern for the Arsenal manager will be that this was a far from convincing performance.
Wenger cut a frustrated figure on the touchline as he watched a performance that epitomised his side's faltering progress in recent weeks.
West Brom had suffered a setback before kick-off with the absence of injured Ben Foster, who had been ruled out on Saturday after straining a groin muscle in training, prompting Hodgson to give Fulop his Premier League debut for West Brom.
He might have been wishing he hadn't after four minutes, when a horrendous error by the goalkeeper allowed Benayoun to give Arsenal the simplest of leads. When James Morrison challenged Van Persie near the centre circle, the ball rebounded back towards Fulop on the edge of his penalty area.
By the numbers
- Victory over West Brom came in Arsene Wenger's 600th Premier League match as Arsenal manager.
- It is the 16th season in a row that Arsenal have secured Champions League football.
- There were 32 Premier League goals scored today, making a total of 1066 goals scored this season - the most in a 38-match season.
But the West Brom goalkeeper hesitated as he waited for the ball to run into his box, allowing Benayoun to nudge the ball beyond him and into an empty net.
The goal shook West Brom from their slumber.
Soon they were pouring forward time after time, probing Arsenal's shaky defence in search of an equaliser and found more, scoring twice in four minutes through Shane Long and Graham Dorrans.
The first came after a typically forceful run by James Morrison, making his 150th appearance for the club. His through-ball found Long running beyond the Arsenal defence and the Republic Ireland striker found the bottom left-hand corner of the net as Wenger protested furiously for an offside flag that never came.
There was no debate about West Brom's second, however.
When Dorrans, moving on to another delightful pass from Morrison, headed the ball away from Laurent Koscielny before ramming it low past Wojciech Szczęsny with his right foot, he emptied salt into Arsenal's already raw wounds.
Neither side look sure-footed in defence, however. While the football was muscular and committed on both sides, a series of individual errors meant neither side look convincing in possession.
It was from one such mistake that Arsenal levelled the scores. Youssouf Mulumbu took one touch too many as he attempted to run the ball clear, Santos disposed him before fizzing a low shot into the net, although Fulop will once again have felt he might have done more as the ball slipped through his grasp.
The West Brom goalkeeper spent the latter part of the half-time interval working on his crosses but that counted for little when the action restarted.
Fulop came for Van Persie's right-wing corner but his punch propelled towards, rather than away from, his goal where Koscielny nudged the ball into the net with an out-stretched right boot.
The final minutes of the match were frantic and hurried but Arsenal stood firm to end the season on a high.
Hodgson heard his name chanted by West Brom fans at the final whistle even if the result was not the one he might have wanted in his final match in charge.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: "I'm proud of the season. The mental solidity, the unity and solidarity inside the club has been tested. We didn't show any weakness and kept united. In the end, we came back. It's a good lesson for everyone. I told everyone to keep doing what they are doing and in the end we got there.
"We were 17th in the league and in the first seven games we had lost four of them. When you have played seven games, there are 31 to go. It's very difficult to imagine you can finish third.
"The intention is to speak with [Van Persie] before he leaves for the Dutch camp (for Euro 2012). Champions League football makes it easier to attract good players and keep them."
West Brom manager Roy Hodgson: "This is a fantastic football club with a great tradition and even in the rough times, I felt the fans were behind us. You deserve another year in the Premier League and I would like to thank all the staff and players for their support during this past 15 months."
West Bromwich Albion
- 13 Fulop
- 03 Olsson
- 06 Ridgewell
- 23 McAuley
- 28 Jones
- 07 Morrison (Andrews - 51' )
- 17 Dorrans (Scharner - 79' )
- 21 Mulumbu
- 09 Long
- 31 Cox (Odemwingie - 73' )
- 32 Fortune
- 19 Daniels
- 20 Shorey
- 25 Dawson
- 26 Hurst
- 08 Andrews
- 33 Scharner
- 24 Odemwingie
- 13 Szczesny
- 05 Vermaelen
- 06 Koscielny
- 11 Santos (Ramsey - 79' )
- 25 Jenkinson
- 07 Rosicky (Walcott - 46' )
- 17 Song
- 30 Benayoun
- 39 Coquelin
- 10 Van Persie Booked
- 27 Gervinho (Gibbs - 67' )
- 21 Fabianski
- 20 Djourou
- 28 Gibbs
- 14 Walcott
- 15 Oxlade-Chamberlain
- 16 Ramsey
- 29 Chamakh
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The referee ends the match.90:00 +3:31
Shane Long challenges Kieran Gibbs unfairly and gives away a free kick. Kieran Gibbs takes the free kick.90:00 +3:17
The ball is delivered by Paul Scharner, clearance made by Theo Walcott.90:00 +2:56
Free kick awarded for a foul by Aaron Ramsey on Peter Odemwingie. Direct free kick taken by Paul Scharner.90:00 +1:57
The referee blows for offside. Wojciech Szczesny takes the free kick.90:00 +1:36
Peter Odemwingie delivers the ball, save made by Wojciech Szczesny.90:00 +0:54
Billy Jones takes a shot. Blocked by Kieran Gibbs.90:00 +0:29
Effort on goal by Robin van Persie from just inside the box goes harmlessly over the target.89:52
Paul Scharner sends in a cross, Laurent Koscielny manages to make a clearance.89:22
Peter Odemwingie delivers the ball, Aaron Ramsey makes a clearance.86:13
Free kick awarded for a foul by Kieran Gibbs on Peter Odemwingie. The free kick is swung in right-footed by Peter Odemwingie, save by Wojciech Szczesny.85:35
Marc-Antoine Fortune takes a shot. Blocked by Laurent Koscielny.83:50
The ball is crossed by Marc-Antoine Fortune.82:24
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Jonas Olsson by Robin van Persie. Indirect free kick taken by Jonas Olsson.81:49
Foul by Marc-Antoine Fortune on Alex Song, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Wojciech Szczesny.81:36
Billy Jones produces a cross.80:44
Marc-Antoine Fortune produces a right-footed shot from deep inside the penalty box which goes wide of the left-hand post.79:51
Corner taken right-footed by Theo Walcott from the left by-line to the near post, save by Marton Fulop.78:41 Substitution
Substitution Aaron Ramsey comes on in place of Clarindo Andre Santos.78:21 Substitution
Substitution Graham Dorrans goes off and Paul Scharner comes on.
Robin van Persie takes a shot. Blocked by Keith Andrews.75:13
Graham Dorrans takes the outswinging corner, Jonas Olsson takes a shot. Clearance made by Carl Jenkinson.74:42
The ball is swung over by Billy Jones, Alex Song makes a clearance.72:48
Handball decision goes against Clarindo Andre Santos. Billy Jones takes the indirect free kick.72:48 Substitution
Substitution Peter Odemwingie is brought on as a substitute for Simon Cox.71:44
Robin van Persie takes the inswinging corner, clearance by Liam Ridgewell.71:19
Alex Song takes a shot from 25 yards. Blocked by Jonas Olsson.71:14
Theo Walcott produces a cross, Jonas Olsson manages to make a clearance.71:04
Centre by Robin van Persie.70:41
The assistant referee flags for offside against Marc-Antoine Fortune. Wojciech Szczesny restarts play with the free kick.70:01
Keith Andrews takes a shot. Wojciech Szczesny makes a save.68:20
Alex Song fouled by Shane Long, the ref awards a free kick. Laurent Koscielny restarts play with the free kick.66:05
Free kick taken by Jonas Olsson.66:05 Substitution
Substitution Kieran Gibbs is brought on as a substitute for Yao Gervinho.66:05
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Graham Dorrans by Yossi Benayoun.63:56
Laurent Koscielny fouled by Marc-Antoine Fortune, the ref awards a free kick. Wojciech Szczesny takes the free kick.63:34
Centre by Yao Gervinho, Gareth McAuley makes a clearance.62:17
The ball is sent over by Simon Cox, clearance by Laurent Koscielny.62:10
Simon Cox crosses the ball, clearance made by Alex Song.62:03
The ball is sent over by Graham Dorrans.61:43
Graham Dorrans takes a short corner.61:09
Corner taken right-footed by Graham Dorrans from the left by-line, clearance made by Laurent Koscielny.60:51
Corner taken right-footed by Graham Dorrans from the right by-line, clearance by Yossi Benayoun.60:00
Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Graham Dorrans, Jonas Olsson takes a shot. Robin van Persie gets a block in.59:52
Simon Cox crosses the ball, clearance made by Laurent Koscielny.58:38
Centre by Youssouf Mulumbu.57:54
The ball is delivered by Carl Jenkinson.56:10
Clarindo Andre Santos gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Marc-Antoine Fortune. Graham Dorrans crosses the ball from the free kick right-footed from right channel, Theo Walcott makes a clearance.53:59
Assist on the goal came from Robin van Persie.53:59 Goal scored
Goal! - Laurent Koscielny - West Brom 2 - 3 Arsenal Laurent Koscielny finds the back of the net with a goal from close in to the top right corner of the goal. West Brom 2-3 Arsenal.53:14
Corner taken by Robin van Persie from the right by-line,52:49
Simon Cox delivers the ball, save by Wojciech Szczesny.51:21
Marc-Antoine Fortune takes a shot. Wojciech Szczesny makes a save.50:46 Substitution
Substitution Keith Andrews replaces James Morrison.50:31
Clarindo Andre Santos has shot on goal from just outside the penalty box which goes wide of the right-hand upright.49:38
Graham Dorrans has an effort at goal from outside the penalty box missing to the wide left of the goal.48:10
Carl Jenkinson gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on James Morrison. Graham Dorrans crosses the ball in from the free kick, clearance by Robin van Persie.47:19
Robin van Persie takes a inswinging corner from the right by-line played to the near post.47:12
The ball is crossed by Theo Walcott, Graham Dorrans gets a block in.45:42
The ball is crossed by Yao Gervinho, clearance by Jonas Olsson.45:01
The game restarts for the second half.45:01 Substitution
Substitution Tomas Rosicky goes off and Theo Walcott comes on.45:00 +2:14 Half time
Half Time The referee blows for half time.45:00 +1:48
Shane Long takes a shot. Laurent Koscielny gets a block in.45:00 +1:11
Shot from inside the six-yard box by Yao Gervinho goes wide right of the target.44:59
Graham Dorrans takes a inswinging corner from the left by-line played to the near post, save by Wojciech Szczesny.44:24
Corner taken right-footed by Graham Dorrans from the right by-line, Laurent Koscielny makes a clearance.43:01
The ball is crossed by Yossi Benayoun.42:03
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Robin van Persie by Jonas Olsson. Francis Coquelin restarts play with the free kick.41:58
The ball is swung over by Liam Ridgewell, clearance made by Thomas Vermaelen.40:09
Billy Jones delivers the ball.39:41
Carl Jenkinson produces a cross, Billy Jones makes a clearance.38:19
Free kick taken by Marton Fulop.38:19 Booking
Booking The referee shows Robin van Persie a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.38:11
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Gareth McAuley by Robin van Persie.35:04
Jonas Olsson concedes a free kick for a foul on Robin van Persie. The free kick is delivered right-footed by Robin van Persie from right channel, clearance made by Gareth McAuley.34:26
The ball is crossed by Yao Gervinho, save by Marton Fulop.34:06
Carl Jenkinson delivers the ball, clearance by Gareth McAuley.33:08
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Marc-Antoine Fortune by Clarindo Andre Santos. James Morrison takes the direct free kick.31:56
The referee blows for offside against Robin van Persie. Marton Fulop takes the free kick.29:16 Goal scored
Goal! - Clarindo Andre Santos - West Brom 2 - 2 Arsenal Clarindo Andre Santos grabs a goal from the edge of the penalty area to the bottom left corner of the goal. West Brom 2-2 Arsenal.28:10
Carl Jenkinson sends in a cross, Liam Ridgewell manages to make a clearance.26:32
Robin van Persie fouled by Gareth McAuley, the ref awards a free kick. Shot on goal comes in from Robin van Persie from the free kick, blocked by Gareth McAuley.25:46
Marc-Antoine Fortune is caught offside. Laurent Koscielny takes the free kick.24:50
Yossi Benayoun challenges Gareth McAuley unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Marton Fulop.24:29
The ball is delivered by Carl Jenkinson, Yossi Benayoun takes a shot. Gareth McAuley gets a block in.24:12
Alex Song fouled by Shane Long, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Alex Song.22:31
Shane Long gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Thomas Vermaelen. Alex Song takes the free kick.21:58
The assistant referee signals for offside against Robin van Persie. Indirect free kick taken by Marton Fulop.21:33
The ball is crossed by Yao Gervinho, Jonas Olsson manages to make a clearance.21:11
Shot by Robin van Persie. Blocked by Gareth McAuley.18:15
Carl Jenkinson crosses the ball, Effort on goal by Yossi Benayoun from just inside the penalty area goes harmlessly over the target.14:10
Assist by James Morrison.14:10 Goal scored
Goal! - Graham Dorrans - West Brom 2 - 1 Arsenal Graham Dorrans fires in a goal from the edge of the area to the bottom left corner of the goal. West Brom 2-1 Arsenal.13:52
Clarindo Andre Santos sends in a cross, Marton Fulop makes a save.13:23
Robin van Persie fouled by Jonas Olsson, the ref awards a free kick. Alex Song restarts play with the free kick.12:22
Francis Coquelin concedes a free kick for a foul on Marc-Antoine Fortune. Graham Dorrans takes the free kick.10:57
The assist for the goal came from James Morrison.10:57 Goal scored
Goal! - Shane Long - West Brom 1 - 1 Arsenal A goal is scored by Shane Long from the edge of the penalty area to the bottom left corner of the goal. West Brom 1-1 Arsenal.9:29
Carl Jenkinson crosses the ball, clearance by Liam Ridgewell.9:05
The ball is swung over by Clarindo Andre Santos, clearance made by Gareth McAuley.8:25
Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Graham Dorrans from the left by-line, save by Wojciech Szczesny.7:25
Robin van Persie crosses the ball.7:02
Robin van Persie takes the inswinging corner, clearance by Jonas Olsson.6:51
The ball is swung over by Carl Jenkinson, blocked by Liam Ridgewell.5:28
Youssouf Mulumbu is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Wojciech Szczesny takes the free kick.4:48
Graham Dorrans takes the outswinging corner, Shane Long challenges Laurent Koscielny unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Wojciech Szczesny.4:33
Marc-Antoine Fortune takes a shot. Save by Wojciech Szczesny.3:04 Goal scored
Goal! - Yossi Benayoun - West Brom 0 - 1 Arsenal Yossi Benayoun gets on the score sheet with a goal from close range to the bottom left corner of the goal. West Brom 0-1 Arsenal.0:35
Simon Cox concedes a free kick for a foul on Francis Coquelin. Free kick taken by Francis Coquelin.0:00
The ref blows the whistle to start the match.
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