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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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Three goals conceded, three consecutive draws as Arsenal slip up again

Arsenal 3 Norwich 3

Benayoun 2, van Persie 72, 80; Hoolahan 12, Holt 27, Morison 85

In the end, the villain of the piece was Kyle Naughton – the defender on loan from Tottenham, of course – who had a hand in the final result. Literally, as his shove in the back on Robin van Persie in the dying moments of the game denied the striker a dramatic late winner. But the truth was Arsenal had no one to blame but themselves, as they were fortunate to finish with a point after a pulsating 3-3 draw with Norwich which featured shockingly amateurish defending from a side which hopes to play in the Champions League next season. Their fate is now out of their hands, however, as the weight of expectation passes to Tottenham tomorrow. It is a burden which proved too much for Arsenal here. Read more of this post

Battling draw sees Arsenal edge ahead in the fight for third

Stoke 1 Arsenal 1

Crouch 9; van Persie 15

Although both sides had opportunities to win this game in the closing 15 minutes, a draw at the home of one of their bogey teams will have pleased Arsenal, particularly in the light of Newcastle’s heavy defeat at Wigan. It leaves them in control of their own destiny in the battle for the third and final guaranteed Champions League spot. However, the game was marred by persistent abuse from the home fans, much of it targeted at Aaron Ramsey, who was returning to the ground where he had his leg broken by Ryan Shawcross two years ago. Read more of this post

Ruthless Arsenal throw Wolves to the, er, wolves

Wolves 0 Arsenal 3

Bassong sent off 8; van Persie 9 pen, Walcott 11, Benayoun 69

Arsenal knocked ten-man Wolves to the canvas twice in the opening minutes at Molineux and did not allow them to land a meaningful punch before finally administering the knockout blow midway through the second half. Goals by Robin van Persie, Theo Walcott and Yossi Benayoun made this as easy a victory as Arsenal have enjoyed all season, moving them five points clear of third-placed Tottenham. Meanwhile Wolves are nine points adrift of safety with only 15 still available. Terry Connor‘s side are now all but mathematically relegated.

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Benayoun’s late winner brings Arsenal Christmas cheer

Aston Villa 1 Arsenal 2

Albrighton 54; van Persie 17 pen, Benayoun 87

An unconvincing Arsenal escaped from Villa Park with all three points after a late winner from a most unlikely source: the head of on-loan substitute Yossi Benayoun. The result was tough on an Aston Villa side who ruffled the visitors throughout and dominated most of the second half, but ultimately paid for a lack of cutting edge up front and a defensive lapse by Gabriel Agbonlahor, who let Benayoun run in unopposed to score the winner.

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