Two late goals – one for either side – meant that the spoils were shared in what was ultimately a frustrating end to the year for Arsene Wenger and his Arsenal side.

Alan Pardew will be a happy man this New Year’s Eve as his West Bromwich Albion side managed to equalize from the penalty spot through Jay Rodriguez in the 89th minute after an apparent Calum Chambers handball, which meant that Alexis Sanchez’s goal 5 minutes earlier did not define the match.

Many reports of Sanchez’s popularity – or lack thereof – emerged following his heroics at Selhurst park earlier in the week, but the Chilean did manage to add another goal to his tenure as a Gunner – perhaps his last – with partial thanks to James McClean’s back, which helped Sanchez’s free kick into the left corner.

But ultimately, it will be the questionable handball decision that will fill the conversations of those leaving the Emirates. Former Arsenal man Kieran Gibbs attempted to get the ball into a better position for the Baggies by crossing the ball into the middle, to where it found the arm of Chambers – which seemed very unintentional – and Mike Dean pointed to the spot.

Cech was sent the wrong way as Rodriguez sent his penalty straight down the middle, and the game petered out to end the year with a 1-1 draw.

One cannot help but feel aggrieved by what appeared to be somewhere between a wrong and soft penalty decision. This was surely the case with the Arsenal players and manager, with Petr Cech and Jack Wilshire receiving yellow cards for arguing with the referee about the decision, and a clearly dismayed Wenger also getting a talking-to.
West Brom went into this game at the foot of the Premier League table following Swansea’s win yesterday, and Arsenal entered the game in 6th on the back of a win against Crystal Palace midweek.

The game wasn’t a particularly entertaining match-up, and is a disappointing way to end the year for supporters – it is unsurprising that this match-up was settled following an uncontentious penalty decision, as the 89 minutes that preceded it didn’t exactly inspire confidence, with Albion threatening despite good Arsenal possession.

Arsene Wenger reverted to his tried and tested 3 at the back for this game, with Shkrodan Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny – who may have attained a knock during the game, unexpectedly leaving the field for Mertesacker on 72 minutes - being joined by Chambers.

Flanking them were Hector Bellerin and Sead Kolasinac – who left the field injured on 37 minutes to be replaced by Ainsley Maitland-Niles. The extent of Kolasinac’s injuries are not yet known, but one hopes that they’re not that bad as the fixtures continue to come thick and fast.

The first half of the match seen good play from the home side with Matt Phillips, Jake Livermore and Chris Brunt all having decent efforts in the opening 20 minutes or so of the match. Arsenal were sparked into life a bit following their slow start, with Alex Iwobi – reinstated today despite poor form for the missing Mesut Ozil, who sat the game out with what is believed (and hoped) to be only a slight injury – finding space and firing an effort at Ben Foster who managed to parry it away.

West Brom began the second half firing as well, with Rodriguez making his presence known right off the bat of the new half, with his shot being blocked.

As the game drifted on – it really wasn’t very exciting – both Lacazette and Iwobi had efforts but both were kept out by Foster, who despite Arsenal’s possession, wasn’t particularly busy all game.

There were a number of switches with 20 minutes to go – Koscielny forced off for Mertesacker, as well as Gregor Krychowiak coming on for Brunt and McClean entering the fray for Phillips.

The game sprung into life in the last 10 minutes, with Sanchez being taken down in a dangerous position outside the West Brom box, from which he converted. Some conspiracy theories about his popularity may have been killed-off when nine (9) of his teammates surrounded him in celebration.

It looked like his goal was sure to mean that Arsenal were going to be the winners of the final Premier League game of the year, but that wasn’t to be the case.

Arsene Wenger’s 811th match in charge of Arsenal – surpassing Alex Ferguson’s record - was not to be a win, and it may not be a match that he looks back upon overly fondly – especially considering the outrageous decision of referee Dean in costing his side the points.

Rodriguez goal was only the third scored during Pardew’s tenure in Birmingham, and his side will be happy with a point as they travel to West Ham on Tuesday.

Arsenal, however, will not be quite so happy with the result and rightly so. A win would have left them within a point of Liverpool, who sit in 4th place on 41.

Perhaps it was the busy month of fixtures that made this match such a lifeless affair, but one hopes that the New Year will bring about a more clinical nature from Wenger’s team.

Arsenal’s next game is an enormous one against 3rd place Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium, and they will have a lot to do to secure victory in what appears to be a very difficult fixture to begin 2018. Hopefully the injuries attained in this match were not overly serious to Kolasinac and Koscielny, and that players such as Ozil, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud recover quickly.