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Arsenal do it the hard way to secure Champions League football

West Brom 2 Arsenal 3

Long 11, Dorrans 15; Benayoun 4, Santos 30, Koscielny 54

Throughout their history, Arsenal have had a habit of doing things the hard way. The 1979 FA Cup final, where they let a 2-0 lead slip in the final five minutes only to snatch victory back at the death. The 1989 league decider at Anfield, which culminated in Michael Thomas’ last-gasp title-winner. Even the final game of the 2003/04 Invincibles season, where they had to come from behind at home to Leicester on the final day. This afternoon’s game at the Hawthorns fell into the same category, as Arsenal contrived to take the lead and fall behind in the first 15 minutes, and needed two crucial interventions in the dying moments to preserve a 3-2 win which secured third place and guaranteed automatic entry into the Champions League group phase next season.
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The week in numbers: w/e 21/8/11

Bell scored a Test best 235

350 – Third wicket partnership between Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell in the 4th Test, an England record stand for any wicket against India, and their seventh largest against any Test opponent. Bell went on to record his highest Test score of 235, Pietersen 175.

31 – Century partnerships in Tests by England batsmen in the past 12 months. India (16) are the only other nation in double figures.

300India‘s first innings total of 300 marked the first time in seven attempts in this series that they have reached this milestone. England have been bowled out for less than 300 just once.

3 – Opener Rahul Dravid scored 146 not out in India’s first innings, making him only the third Indian batsman to carry his bat in a Test innings (Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar).

Djokovic lost for only the second time in 2011

2 – World number one Novak Djokovic retired with a shoulder injury when a set and 3-0 down to Andy Murray in the final of the Cincinnati Masters. It was only his second defeat in 59 matches in 2011. (His only other loss this year was to Roger Federer in the semi-final of the French Open.)

7Sébastien Ogier won the Rally Germany to end Citroën teammate Sébastien Loeb‘s 7-year unbeaten run on all-tarmac rallies. Loeb, who finished second, had also won the last eight editions of the German event.

1 – Britain’s Jonathan Brownlee defended his Sprint World Championships title in Lausanne, beating older brother Alistair in a major event for the first time. However Alistair remains ahead of his younger brother at the top of the rankings which determine the overall world title.

10 – 2009 women’s British Open winner Catriona Matthew won the Scottish Open by ten strokes at the Archerfield Links in East Lothian. She lives five minutes away from the course.

10 – Warwickshire’s Chris Woakes took 10/123 – including 7/20 in the first innings – in the drawn County Championship game with Hampshire at Edgbaston.

The Premier league in numbers

10Arsenal‘s 2-0 defeat by Liverpool was the first time in 10 years they have lost their first home game (Leeds, August 2001). That season they went on to win the League and FA Cup double.

42 – It is the first time in 42 years that Arsenal have failed to score in their first two league games.

Long scored WBA's first ever goal at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League

6 – West Bromwich Albion‘s 2-1 defeat at Chelsea means they have now lost on all six of their Premier League visits to Stamford Bridge. Shane Long‘s strike at least marked their first goal in this fixture.

23Sunderland‘s 1-0 loss to Newcastle means they have now failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their last 23 meetings with their neighbours.

4Everton‘s 1-0 defeat at home to QPR marked the fourth straight season in which they have lost their opening league match.

5Manchester City‘s 3-2 win at Bolton was their fifth successive Premier League win (dating back to last season). It is only the second time they have achieved this feat.

5 – Bolton’s Kevin Davies was one of five English league players sharing the same surname to score last weekend – the others were Steve and Ben Davies of Derby, Arron Davies of Northampton and Scott Davies of Crawley.

94Kenwyne Jones‘s equaliser in Stoke‘s 1-1 draw at Norwich came in the 94th minute.

6Aston Villa‘s 3-1 win over Blackburn marked the sixth time in the space of just 20 months (in all competitions) they have scored three or more times in a game against these opponents.

(Some statistics courtesy of Opta Sports, The Times, StatManJon and Infostrada.)

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