Arsenal 1 West Bromwich Albion 0
(Giroud 14)

It was in the end a familiar scoreline, and perhaps a familiar Premiership outcome based on seasons in the recent past. Olivier Giroud’s 16th Premiership goal gave Arsenal a lead over West Bromwich Albion, and one which they would not relinquish.Twenty four hours earlier hours earlier, Manchester City’s win against Everton ensured that Arsene Wenger’s side would not be caught by the Merseysiders for the 4th spot.

A record 17th consecutive Champions League qualification was thus guaranteed in a season which saw the Gunners lead the Premiership table for the most weeks out of all their rivals. Untimely injuries to the midfield especially, and the lack of quality replacements would come to cost Wenger’s side, with the real scare of losing out on Champions League football occupying the minds and frayed nerves at the Emirates.

That disaster averted, and having taken the lead here, the Gunners continued at a stroll in the north London sunshine. With Mesut Özil and company now bedded into the rigours of Premiership football, one hopes that the Gunners will come back, stronger and take care of unfinished Premiership business.

Starting the brighter, Arsenal went close when Lukas Podolski hit wide from Giroud’s cross. Saido Berahino let the Gunners know that Albion, despite their languishing dangerously close to the drop zone, weren’t afraid of attacking. Having beat the offside trap, Berahino forced Wojciech Szczesny into making a low save.

With the pressure off however, Arsenal’s neat inventive play cut through Albion when Özil’s pass set up Mathiu Flamini to miss with an air shot, and then Santi Cazorla who did make contact, only to see his shot deflect for a corner, which would lead to the opener.

Cazorla swung in the resultant corner from which having held off the muscular attentions of Craig Dawson, Giroud powered a header beyond Ben Foster after 14 minutes.

That seemed to set up the tempo of proceedings and when Mikel Arteta’s precise chip found Flamini, the square ball to the waiting Özil saw Foster clear with his legs.

Graham Dorrans stung Szczesny’s hands with a save which spilled to Berahino who shot over from an offside position. The same player them curled over after Özil lost possession deep in his half.

The Gunners should have doubled their lead after 34 minutes when Arteta found Podolski on the left. The German looked up to pick out Cazorla, and the Spain midfielder struck a low shot which Foster did well to keep out.

The defensive pairing of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertersacker has been at the foundation of home clean sheets, and the two had to be alert when Amalfitano and Berahino threatened again.

Özil will wonder how he missed the target after Giroud’s clever headed flick on set up the German, and so will Podolski who hit the woodwork after some neat build up play from Özil and substitute Kallstrom.

However, Arsenal did enough and had enough about them to see off the game and will finish their campaign with the trip to Norwich next weekend, no doubt wondering what could have been.