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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 22/4/12

Vettel finally won his first race of the 2012 season (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

10 – Points separating the top five drivers after defending Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel won the Bahrain Grand Prix. His first victory of the season catapulted him from fifth to first in the standings, with 53 points.

4 – The win by Red Bull’s Vettel marked the first time since 1983 the first four races of the season have been won by four different drivers (Button, Alonso, Rosberg, Vettel) from four different teams (McLaren, Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull).

2Wilson Kipsang and defending champion Mary Keitany secured a Kenyan double by winning the men’s and women’s races at the London Marathon.

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The week in numbers: w/e 4/3/12

McIlroy displaced Luke Donald as world number one (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

22 – Age of Rory McIlroy, who yesterday became world number one at 22 years and 10 months after winning the Honda Classic at Palm Beach. Only Tiger Woods, who was joint-second, two shots behind, has climbed to the top of golf’s rankings at a younger age.

72Roger Federer defeated Andy Murray 7-5 6-4 in the final of the Dubai Championship to win his 72nd career title. Murray had beaten world number one Novak Djokovic to reach the final.

50Wladimir Klitschko recorded his 50th professional knockout as he successfully defended his WBA, IBF and WBO world heavyweight title belts with a fourth-round win over Frenchman Jean-Marc Mormeck.

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The week in numbers: w/e 12/2/12

Drogba missed a penalty in the final again

0Ivory Coast failed to win the Africa Cup of Nations despite not conceding a single goal in the entire tournament. Zambia beat them 8-7 on penalties after the teams played out a goalless draw in last night’s final.

3 – All three finals in which Ivory Coast have played have gone to a penalty shootout after finishing 0-0. They won the final in 1992 and lost in 2006.

2Didier Drogba missed a penalty in normal time. The Ivory Coast striker also missed from the spot in the 2006 final.

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No fireworks as Gunners blow away West Brom with ease

Arsenal 3 West Bromwich Albion 0

van Persie 22, Vermaelen 39, Arteta 74

There was a time when Arsenal used to regularly win home games at a canter without ever needing to get out of second gear. After an opening month of the season which was nothing short of catastrophic by the club’s high standards, it appeared those days were long gone, never to return. It is a measure, however, of how far the team has quietly progressed and gelled in the seven weeks since the nadir of the 4-3 defeat at Blackburn that this was as comprehensive and easy a victory as any ever seen at the Emirates Stadium. Inspired yet again by captain Robin van Persie – who scored the opening goal and set up the other two – the Baggies succumbed meekly to defeat.

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