If you are thinking of holding a party be sure to invite West Bromwich Albion as they make perfect house guests.

There are no late-night soirees for these ambassadors of accommodating behaviour in case they are erased from the guest list.

However, after succumbing to a seventh defeat in nine Premiership fixtures, the likelihood of an invitation to Arsenal's house-warming bash next season is slim.

The odds are lengthening by the week as each match-day yields a depressingly similar scenario whatever the occasion.

Arsenal were celebrating 'Dennis Bergkamp Day' as 93 years of football history draws to a close at Highbury and there was a carnival atmosphere in north London.

About 10,000 home supporters were bedecked in orange shirts in deference to the Dutchman's country of birth and the scene was set for Bergkamp to inflict yet more misery on Bryan Robson's beleaguered side.

The last time Albion were invited to a party was on November 30 when they travelled to Old Trafford for a celebration of George Best's life and they were suitably compliant.

Manchester United romped to a comfortable 3-1 victory and Albion's Carling Cup adventure was smashed to smithereens for another year.

The scoreline may have been replicated at Highbury and Albion even afforded Bergkamp the opportunity to score; but this performance was full of toil, graft and grit.

All of the aforementioned are qualities that you would associate with a side facing relegation. However, it appears those admirable qualities may not be sufficient this year as the relegation quicksand threatens to envelop them.

Just over a month ago there was brio and bombast in abundance in Albion's squad after they have comprehensively outplayed Birmingham City at St Andrew's. It was embarrass-ingly one-sided yet Albion managed to accrue only one point. That 90-minute performance was their season in a microcosm.

A genuine ability to create chances is matched by a propensity to shoot themselves in the foot with alarming regularity.

Wind the clock forward and all of Albion's posturing has been replaced by hollow words.

Most football supporters can cope with disappointment but it is hope they find hard to stomach.

Saturday was a classic case in point. Against an Arsenal side rich in talent, flair and confidence, trying to stem the attacking tide was like pushing water uphill but Albion were diligent.

Alexander Hleb's clinically-executed finish on the stroke of half time was all that separated these two sides at opposite ends of the table.

Bergkamp and Robert Pires arrived to great acclaim with 18 minutes remaining to parade their party tricks and generally showboat in the spring sunshine.

However, within 60 seconds of the home duo appearing, Albion finally threatened to play party-pooper as Nigel Quashie's crisp left-foot drive flew past Jens Lehmann for a stunning equaliser.

The balloons deflated and the atmosphere soured as the lowly visitors had disregarded the script that was supposed to unfold in front of their eyes.

That was the signal for a substantial following of the away team to dream of great escapes with shades of last season on the horizon.

Yet, within four minutes all that optimism had dissipated as Ronnie Wallwork was dispossessed and Mathieu Flamini struck a raking pass that caught Neil Clement and Paul Robinson dozing.

Emmanuel Adebayor fed Pires whose initial shot was saved by Tomasz Kuszczak. King for the day Bergkamp retrieved the situation and enabled Pires to have two more bites of the cherry before restoring his team's lead. A crestfallen air of inevitability surrounded the pocket of Albion supporters while Highbury's choir paid tribute to Bergkamp.

Nevertheless, there was still time for Curtis Davies' legitimate penalty claims to be scorned by referee Mike Read after Emmanuel Eboue clearly tripped him in the penalty area. But the Premiership is a cruel world and Bergkamp showed why he is still playing for Arsenal at the age of 37 with an exquisite curling effort that comfortably beat the hapless Kuszczak.

The difference between Highbury and Roots Hall is gargantuan but Robson's troops will be heading for the Championship unless they perform an abrupt u-turn. Any slight glint of hope will be extinguished should they lose against Bolton this evening. Wanderers have had five consecutive defeats and are ripe to be picked off. Oh, and Dudley-born Sam Allardyce is a Wolves fan.

Robson has long bemoaned the lack of luck proffered to his side. Well, here is an opportunity to bloom against a bedraggled outfit shorn of goals, confidence and with little to play for. As last-chance saloons go, there are far worse places to drink.