West Brom took a huge stride towards achieving Premier League safety with a 1-0 win against Stoke City at The Hawthorns.
Brown Ideye headed the only goal of the game in the first half to secure a success that puts 11 points between Tony Pulis’ side and the relegation zone.
The result also ended a three-match winning run in the league for Mark Hughes’ men, who were second best before the break, but improved after half-time.
A flurry of injuries – to Ben Foster, Victor Moses and Jonathan Walters – disrupted the second half and Pulis’ old club failed to sufficiently trouble replacement West Brom goalkeeper Boaz Myhill.
The hosts could have extended the margin of victory, but wasted countless chances before hanging on to recover from two defeats in the space of four days to Midlands rivals Aston Villa.
Pulis made one change to the West Brom side beaten at Villa in their previous league match, as Stephane Sessegnon replaced Claudio Yacob.
Hughes also made a solitary switch, restoring captain Ryan Shawcross to his defence in place of Philipp Wollscheid.
That backline was soon threatened by Saido Berahino, who fired in two early shots from the edge of the box, which both forced good saves from Asmir Begovic.
–Arsenal coach defiant over CL prospects
Arsene Wenger is convinced Arsenal can revive their Champions League dream in Monaco next week as they look to come back from a 3-1 first-leg deficit.
Arsenal have bounced back from their shock home defeat at the Emirates Stadium last month with three straight victories, including a 2-1 FA Cup quarter-final win at Manchester United on Monday.
But Wenger’s side will have to create history if they are to reach the last eight in Europe, with no side having ever won a Champions League knockout tie away from home after a two-goal first leg deficit.
“Don’t rule us out of the Champions League yet,” said Wenger.
“We have played over 180 games in the Champions League and we have a lot of experience, so let’s see what can happen in Monaco. It is a small chance, but we have to believe.”
The Premier League, which has produced just one Champions League semi-finalist since Chelsea won the trophy in 2012, is facing the prospect of not having a single representative in this year’s quarter-finals.
Chelsea’s exit at the hands of Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday added to Liverpool’s early group-stage elimination , while Manchester City also suffered defeat in their last-16 first leg against Barcelona.
“We speak a long, long time about the winter break, but it would be a bit superficial to go for that cause,” Wenger added.
“First of all, I believe that Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona are great teams and no matter if they have a winter break, you can be in trouble against these teams.
“It’s too early to draw conclusions about the efficiency of the Premier League. What is for sure is the Premier League is demanding physically.”
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