After dropping crucial points in the 1-1 draw with Blackburn, Arsenal were next up at the Hawthorns. Arsène Wenger’s side may have lost their invincible status and the Premier League title to the new kid on the block, José Mourinho, but they still needed points to secure second place and their players were playing for a place in the starting line up for the FA Cup final. They were also coming off a victory in the North London Derby in midweek.
West Brom 0 Arsenal 2
With the match at the Hawthorns scheduled for the Monday evening, Albion got to see how their rivals got on before they played with the other three relegation-threatened sides in action on the Saturday. All three could not win, however, with Southampton hosting Norwich City and it was the Saints who came out on top with a dramatic 4-3 victory thanks to Henri Camara’s late winner. Palace, meanwhile, had drawn 0-0 at Newcastle United which meant that Southampton had jumped from 20th place to 17th ahead of the Baggies’ match with Arsenal.
It turned out to be a match in which the hosts held their own for long periods and caused Arsenal numerous problems, but clear cut chances for Albion were few and far between. The Gunners, on the other hand, were some way from their best but their quality told in the end.
Robin van Persie wasn’t yet the prolific striker he was to become, but he opened the scoring with a fine strike in the 66th minute.
Kieran Richardson came closest to forcing an equaliser with a long range shot that was parried by Jens Lehmann, but Edu secured the points in the closing moments when he was put through by Dennis Bergkamp.
With just two games of the season to go, just one point separated the bottom four teams although Southampton and Crystal Palace had a distinct goal difference advantage over the bottom two. It was certain that it would go down to the last day of the season, but the results in round 37 would determine whether all four teams would still be in with a chance of avoiding the drop on what would become known as Survival Sunday.
Premier League Table – 2nd May 2005
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