Ben Foster's injury withdrawal an hour before kick off turned out to be the best thing in Arsenal's afternoon at the Hawthorns. The Gunners actually turned in a poor display but sparsely played Martin Fulop who was Foster's stand in gifted the visiting side all their goals.
Yossi Benayoun deserves credit for following through after Fulop came rushing out of his line to collect and then checked himself realizing he would be out of the box. The result was a massive error in judgment which Benayoun deservedly punished.
This being Arsenal all WBA had to do was to counterattack to send the defense into a swoon which James Morrison duly did sending Shane Long, miles offside for the equalizer. This has been a season of edge of the seat matches but it has also been stuffed with the most horrendous refereeing mistakes.
More grief lay in store as Morrison taking advantage of sloppy defending again sliced Arsenal open and this time it was Graham Dorrans with a snappy finish. But the ineffectual Fulop again came to the rescue before half time as his limp hand to Andre Santos's crashing shot deflected the ball inoto the right hand corner.
We weren't quite full up on the incompetence. Not just yet.
After resumption, Fulop jumped out to what should have been an easy collect off a corner but incredibly resorted to a double fisted punch that traveled back towards Laurent Koscielny which the Frenchman turned into goal. It turned out to be the match winner. But before that Kieran Gibbs effected the single most important piece of defensive work blocking Bill Jones when he looked all set to score. An on edge Wenger on the sidelines who was alternately hugging Pat Rice and walking off could finally rest.
Nice follow through as the players gave Rice a warm send off. He's been subjected to a lots of criticism including from yours truly but on this day he deserves all the respect and gratitude for his years of service dedicated to the club first as a player and then as a coach. Pat Rice, thank you for all the memories!
Arsenal finish third and if we cast our eye back at how we started our season we can say without sentiment that this was one incredible finish. Third place means we automatically qualify for the Champions League next season whatever the outcome of the final on May 19th. Spurs on the other hand will be sweating just a bit. St Totteringham's day came late this year but it did finally come.