Arsenal recorded a simple 1-0 win over West Bromwich Albion at the Emirates on Sunday, with both teams having little left to play for in the 2013-14 Premier League season besides honour.
The Gunners were already assured of a fourth-place finish entering this match, while the visitors still need one result to be mathematically certain of Premier League survival.
A visit to the Emirates would hardly be the match to obtain such a result, and with Norwich City facing fixtures against Chelsea and Arsenal to close out the season, the Baggies could afford to take it easy on Saturday.
Arsenal went looking for an early goal and got exactly that when Olivier Giroud connected with a corner within the first 15 minutes to put the team up by a goal. The visitors tried pushing for an equaliser right before the half and did the same in the final five minutes of the match, but never truly seemed to threaten the goal of Wojciech Szczesny.
The hosts, meanwhile, held the ball for much of the first half and defended expertly in the second, and Mesut Ozil came very close to doubling the team's advantage with 20 minutes left to play. His shot from close range would harmlessly roll past the far post, however.
The Baggies could have guaranteed safety with a win at the Emirates, but if Norwich lose to Chelsea later in the day, the 1-0 loss to Arsenal won't matter one bit.
Pepe Mel caused quite a storm on social media when he told Spanish reporters he believed Arsene Wenger would have been sacked in Spain for his inability to win trophies, as reported by the London Evening Standard's Tom Dutton:
I don't think Arsene would have survived in Spain.
Carlo Ancelotti at Real Madrid is a good example. Three months ago he was under real pressure and now they are in the Champions League final.
In Spain, England and Germany it is always the same, the head coach lives for the results.
But I'm not surprised Arsene is still in a job as I agree with Arsenal. He has a good philosophy.
The Express' Steve Madeley seemed to think Mel should look at his own situation first, however:
They are singing Pepe Mel's name as he leaves the field but his team didn't do much to help keep him in a job. #wba— Steve Madeley (@smadeley_star) May 4, 2014
Via Premier League's Twitter account, the manager seemed to believe his team would be in need of another result to avoid relegation:
Pepe Mel assesses WBA's survival hopes after defeat to Arsenal: "36 pts are not enough, we need an extra point from our two matches" #ARSWBA— Premier League (@premierleague) May 4, 2014
His captain, Chris Brunt, also didn't seem particularly satisfied with the way the current campaign has played out:
Chris Brunt's verdict on @WBAFCofficial's campaign: "We’re bitterly disappointed - we’ve had a poor season. I hope we’ll be stronger for it"— Premier League (@premierleague) May 4, 2014
But as shared by the team's official Twitter account, Mel had very little bad to say about his team in their performance against one of the giants of English football:
Mel: My team gave good performance. We worked very hard, were compact. We made one mistake and it was disappointing to concede from corner— WBAFCofficial (@WBAFCofficial) May 4, 2014
The Spanish manager also thought his team deserved at least a point:
Mel: Arsenal are a big team and gave us a tough match but we played well and deserved a point. We just couldn't get the goal we needed.— WBAFCofficial (@WBAFCofficial) May 4, 2014
Loic Remy was sighted as he attended the match, but per beIN Sports' Carrie Brown, Wenger made it clear this didn't mean the French attacker would be joining the Gunners in the summer:
Per the club's Twitter account, the French manager told reporters winning today's match was very important to the club:
Wenger: "We wanted to win and we did it. It was important not to lose today." #AFCvWBA— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) May 4, 2014
He also liked what he saw from his players, even if it may have led to some frustrations. Having led the Premier League standings for a while, one bad month of March truly made everything come undone for the team:
Wenger: "I am happy with the behaviour and attitude of my team. I am frustrated as well as we were top for so long." #AFCvWBA— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) May 4, 2014
According to Wenger, The Gunners' scoring ability and away record wasn't sufficient compared to other top teams, but he also hailed the tremendous defensive efforts of his squad:
Wenger: "We missed a few goals compared to other teams, and we missed some big away games." #AFCvWBA— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) May 4, 2014
Wenger: "Other than that our defensive stability was absolutely fantastic." #AFCvWBA— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) May 4, 2014
He then returned to the report Remy was present in the stands, as he joked with reporters:
Wenger: "I have just been informed Loic Remy was here, I honestly did not know. I hope he paid for his ticket!" #AFCvWBA— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) May 4, 2014
Finally, looking ahead at the upcoming transfer window, the French manager confirmed he was hopeful Bacary Sagna would stay with the club:
Arsenal will take on Norwich City on the Premier League's final matchday, and with the FA Cup final against Hull City being played just a week later, it would appear likely Wenger will rest some of his key players ahead of his chance to win his first trophy with the club in years.
Should Norwich manage to avoid losing to Chelsea later today, the Canaries will be fighting for Premier League survival against Arsenal, and as the Gunners have little left to play for, West Brom will be looking to take matters into their own hands.
A trip to Sunderland is no easy task, however; the Black Cats are one of the most in-form teams in the entire league right now. Winners of three straight, the hosts would be favourites to close out the season with a win, further emphasising the importance of the match between Chelsea and Norwich.