1) Cazorla dived. I am pretty sure that he went down in anticipation of contact and was looking to emphasize the foul to get a penalty. However, Steven Reid pulled out, there was no contact, and Cazorla is now on the same list as Suarez, Bale and Young. Wenger said in his post-match interview that Santi had said that there was contact and he lost his balance, but the video evidence clearly shows otherwise. Enough said. If it was against us I am sure I would be more angry, but the fact is that we needed something like this to go our way. Markus Rosenberg then tried to fool the referee at the other end of the pitch, but wasn’t quite as lucky.
“No [I haven't reviewed it]. I am sorry if it was not a penalty but I have spoken to Santi and he said he has been touched and lost his balance. Maybe he made more of it, I don’t know. But he told me just after I came to see you [the press], I asked him the question because I knew you would ask me the question.”
2) Arsenal did everything but score in open play. In the end, 2 penalties were enough to give us the win. However, we should have won by 3 or 4. Arsenal played some fantastic football and were unlucky not to have put a few more past Myhill.
“I think it is the only negative of the day, that we didn’t convert our chances very well. But we created chances and in the last game we didn’t create a lot. We are not used to that. I believe if we are a bit more serene we will convert these chances much better.”
3) How good are Jack Wilshere and The Ox? Wilshere was at the centre of all our beautiful attacking play and made some sumptuous runs straight at the heart of the West Brom defence. He was voted MOTM on Arsenal.com, with more than 60% of the vote. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also had arguably his best game of the season so far.
“He [Jack] is getting closer to the player we know he is and today I think he made a big step. You could see it already this week in training, that he has gained a little burst again, a little zip in the first three or four yards. That’s what you have to accept in football, you have sometimes to be patient. He can only gain it by playing but of course in the first games you cannot be at that level.
“I believe he [Oxlade-Chamberlain] is on the same trend as Jack. He is getting better, stronger, more mature, especially more determined today. There is much more man in his game than there was before. I am pleased with what I have seen from him today.”
4) Thomas Vermaelen is finding his form again and Arsenal can defend. It was important for Arsenal to keep another clean sheet after conceding 2 late goals to Swansea. Vermaelen and Mertesacker have formed a nice defensive partnership, with both players working hard to limit West Brom’s chances. Arsenal still have the third best defence in the Premier League after Manchester City and Stoke. We have conceded only 16 goals so far this season, 7 fewer than United; however, you wouldn’t have guessed that looking at some of our recent performances!
5) 3rd and 4th place not so far away. Arsenal are only 2 points behind Everton, West Brom and Spurs and 5 behind Chelsea. A good run of form in the next few weeks could see us back in the top 4 by the New Year (- here’s hoping!). We still have to play Reading (a), Wigan (a), West Ham (h) and Newcastle (h) before December 31st. Reading & Wigan should be an easy 6 points if the team don’t become too complacent.
As things currently stand, Arsenal are still (just about) in the top half of the Premier League table. I do not need to tell you how important it is that we take all 3 points this afternoon. Anything else and the team will almost definitely be booed off the pitch like they were last week after the 2-0 loss to Swansea.
It wasn’t just the result last week that really irked the fans, but also the fact that the team were lackluster and uninspired. We need a performance this afternoon. Several key players were rested in midweek and will hopefully feel refreshed and revitalised.
Arsenal failed to really take control of the game against Swansea and collapsed in the last 5 minutes or so. We cannot afford to make that mistake again. West Brom have started the season particularly well; the team are flying high (they are 5th in the League and level on points with Spurs and Chelsea) and should be the more confident side going into today’s game. However, the Baggies have lost their last 2 games, which could influence how they approach the game. They will not want to lose 3 games in a row as that could really affect their momentum and see them drop back down the table.
I don’t care how we win. Given how we have started the season, I would happily sacrifice beautiful passing football (not that we are playing beautiful passing football at the moment) for an own goal or a debatable penalty. I just want to see us close the gap on those Champions League places.
Ben Foster (groin) is West Brom’s only major injury worry.
Peter Odemwingie, James Morrison and Chris Brunt were all rested last week against Stoke.
Predicted Starting XI
With Walcott and Podolski out I expect Wenger to start with Gervinho and Ramsey on the wings. I would like to see The Ox get a start, but Wenger seems to like putting Ramsey on the right wing for some unknown reason. The team is otherwise the strongest that we are able to field given all the injuries mentioned above. I am not sure whether Rosicky is fit enough to start if he started against Olympiacos, but he will probably feature at some point.
West Brom have never kept a clean sheet in any of their 12 Premier League games against Arsenal and have kept only one clean sheet in their last 24 away games.
The Emirates Stadium is hardly a fortress at the moment. Arsenal have won only 3 of their last 10 home league games (W3 D4 L3).
West Brom have only won at Arsenal once in the last 30 years. You will probably all remember when we lost 3-2 in September 2010 thanks to a typically disastrous Almunia performance. West Brom took a 3-0 lead, and Samir Nasri’s 2 goals weren’t enough to rescue any points.
Szczesny – 6 I don’t feel that there was too much he could have done for either goal. The first was 1-on-1 and the second was just a good strike. Apparently Szczesny has receiving injections over the last few weeks for a shoulder injury, which can hardly have helped.
Jenkinson – 4 Really struggled, especially in the first half. He wonders inside, leaves the flanks exposed, and doesn’t get on the right side of his man. The good news is that Sagna should have plenty of time to recover over the summer and will hopefully be fit for the start of next season.
Vermaelen – 6.5 Had a few poor moments in the first half (he was high up the pitch for West Brom’s second), but defended well after the break.
Koscielny – 7.5 Made a few good blocks and showed why he is a quality centre-back.
Santos – 7 Good going forward (he has great attacking flair and grabbed a decent goal), but poor defensively. Maybe Santos is more suited to playing a more advanced role on the wing?
Song – 6.5 Not as dominant as he was in the first-half of the season, but still a pretty decent performance. Needs to remember his defensive duties and protect the back four. We have conceded way too many goals from teams who exploit gaps left by Song and Vermaelen.
Coquelin – 5 Gave the ball away on several occasions and didn’t really take the opportunity to prove why he deserves to start ahead of Aaron Ramsey.
Rosicky – 5.5 A relatively quiet game from the Czech international, who was subbed at half time for Walcott.
Gervinho – 5 Makes good runs (sometimes I wonder if the ball is actually glued to his feet), but his final ball always lets him down. He doesn’t need to score to be a great player, but a few assists would be helpful.
Benayoun – 9 Fantastic performance from Yossi, who was clearly out to prove why he deserves to be at the club beyond the summer. Scored his 6th of the season, which is pretty good when you consider that he has only made 25 appearances, many as a substitute. If Wenger doesn’t snap him up from Chelsea then he is making a big mistake. Fair enough, Benayoun is slightly older and might not make 40 appearances a season, but he adds a lot of experience to the team and has a pretty good eye for goal.
Van Persie – 6 Lacked support, especially from the players in midfield. RvP was left slightly isolated and didn’t really get into the game as much as he would have liked. Not going to complain though. 30 league goals this season ain’t bad.
Walcott – 5 Didn’t make a huge impression in the 45 minutes that he was on the pitch. Helped out defensively, but not much going forward.
Gibbs – 8 I give Gibbs full credit for a £30 million tackle right at the end to deny what looked like a certain equaliser. A good overall performance as he proves to be a better defensive left-back than Santos.
Ramsey – n/a On pretty late. Not enough time to really influence the game.
Robin van Persie continued his fine run of form with the opening goal and two assists as we brushed Roy Hodgsons’s West Brom aside 3-0 at the Emirates stadium.
Van Persie gave us the lead on 22 minutes with a tap-in following good play from Theo Walcott, and Thomas Vermaelen added a second a little more than 15 minutes later.
The team definitely weren’t at their best in the first half, but deserved their two goal cushion ahead of the break.
In the second half we dominated the play, with Ramsey and Arteta working well in midfield to create a flurry of good chances. However, it took until the 74th minute for Arteta to lash in a 15-yard strike – his 2nd goal for Arsenal – ensuring that we enter the international break with all three points; Our next game is away at Norwich on the 19th of November.
West Brom were limited to just one shot on target, which puts our fantastic defensive display into perspective. Wenger says that he picked Koscielny (instead of Mertesacker) to partner Vermaelen because he wanted two quick centre-backs to deal with the pace of Peter Odemwingie. Odemwingie didn’t play, but the defensive pair worked perfectly together anyway.
Everything about this afternoon’s win was fantastic, apart from André Santos accidentally slagging us off on Twitter because of a typo…
“Overall it was a controlled performance where we had complete domination of the game. It was a good pace in the first half – in the second it was a little bit off - but we were never really in trouble. We are getting stronger and overall it is a positive afternoon. We scored five goals last week, three goals today and didn’t concede.
“The spirit of the squad was right from the first to the last minute. We worked well together. I was always positive with the team because of course we were in a very bad position – but you felt the desire to do well. Now that we are doing better it is still there.”
Player ratings to follow (probably tomorrow morning)
Speaking to French sports magazine L’Équipe, QPR midfielder Adel Taarabt confirmed that Arsenal and Chelsea have both made enquiries about a potential transfer, but admitted that the situation with both clubs is extremely difficult.
“QPR will demand £10 million pounds for me… I had contact with Arsenal and Chelsea, but it is a little muddled. Arsenal have not yet sold Fabregas, and as for Chelsea, they do not yet have a coach, so we will see.”
Taarabt’s performances last season (during which he made 44 appearances in the Championship and scored 19 goals as QPR won promotion to the Premier League) have attracted the attention from some of the top English clubs, and it is known that Arsène Wenger is a keen admirer of the 22-year-old. It is also suggested that Wenger even tried to sign Taarabt from Lens in 2007 before he joined Spurs. Taarabt only made 16 appearances for Tottenham before he was sold permanently to QPR in 2010.
In my opinion, this transfer is quite unlikely. QPR have just been promoted to the Premier League and will no doubt be desperate to hold on to their star midfielder. However, it is understandable if Taarabt wants to move to Arsenal in order to bolster his chances of silverware.
Likeliness rating: 2.5/5
Speaking to the club website, West Brom sports director Dan Ashworth rubbished the reports that Arsenal are close to agreeing a deal for Peter Odemwingie, insisting that the Nigerian international is not for sale.
“Our aim is to retain our core players and try to strengthen around them. I want to make it clear that Peter is not for sale and remains a key member of our squad. We have not received any offers for Peter and we have placed no valuation on his head.”
Odemwingie scored 15 goals in 32 Premier League games during a season in which West Brom avoided relegation. This has led to interest from a number of bigger European clubs. However, a source close to Odemwingie told the Daily Star that while Arsenal were able to meet West Brom’s asking price, they had failed to agree personal terms with the player.
“Peter is not happy that, while the Gunners are willing to meet West Brom’s transfer fee, there will not be much change in his personal terms. The club are proposing what he considers to be peanuts for him.”
In my opinion, Odemwingie would still make the move even if the personal terms were similar to those at West Brom. Players of that calibre just don’t turn down the chance to play for Arsenal. Such an opportunity is unlikely to occur for the player in the future. However, as far as I am concerned, the source is seems rather unreliable. I should also point out that Dan Ashworth made it very clear that Peter is not for sale, so it is extremely unlikely that this transfer would materialise.
A superb goal from Arshavin got the Gunners back into the game
Since a flat performance against Stoke in the league, Arsenal have won once in six games. The solitary victory came against league one opponents Leyton Orient. For a team challenging for the title, two draws in a row must be viewed as four points dropped.
Arsenal now sit five points off the top, but with that vital game in hand that Gooners are clinging on to. Current form suggests that Arsenal will fail to take advantage of that game in hand, which arrives when we travel to White Heart Lane. Man Utd won their league match against Bolton, with Berbatov grabbing the late winner after the leaders had gone down to ten men. That seems like real mental strength to me, but we cannot deny that Arsenal’s performance against West Brom showed a lot of determination.
Unfortunately, the determination was only shown after going two goals down. As to the way in which the second goal was conceded… well, despite Almunia‘s howlers in the past, it was unexpected. After a superb match against Barcelona, Almunia was back to his old ways. I was watching the match on a dodgy online stream, so I thought that the group of pixels that sprinted out of our goal was just due to the poor quality of my internet. You can imagine my disdain when I realised that it was our crazy Spanish keeper who had got bored of staying in goal. To be fair to him, it had been over 50 minutes since he conceded, and West Brom hadn’t really worked him particularly hard. I guess he just wanted to get involved.
In two matches against West Brom, Almunia conceded 5 goals from only 7 shots. In four matches against the newly-promoted Newcastle and West Brom, Arsenal have managed a mere two points. Arsenal are supposed to improve in the league now that we have no more distractions. There was little passion and concentration yesterday. The first goal arrived after just three minutes, when a throw in lobbed Sagna, and Odemwingie won a corner. I don’t know what Sagna was doing, but defenders need to be on the ball at all times. It is all very well that he can bomb up the wing and create chances, but we need DEFENDERS to DEFEND. The following corner was defended pretty poorly. The centre backs were split at either post, leaving Denilson and Ramsey marking the players in the centre of the box. Both players are under six foot, and neither are renowned for their heading abilities. Ramsey was out-jumped as Reid planted a header above Almunia. Another goal conceded from a set piece, like the majority of the goals against Arsenal this season.
Arshavin’s goal (and his involvement in the second) showed his class. The problem is consistency, he needs to be able to replicate this form in every game. In addition, he can produce these moments of magic, but then he doesn’t get involved in the game. He now has 11 assists to his name in the league this year and 10 goals in all competitions. The stats show his worth, but fans need to see some commitment on the pitch. RVP now has 19 goals in his last 19 starts, but he wasn’t at his best yesterday. Despite that, he scored the equaliser and hit the post with an exquisite header. I think that the Dutchman needs Cesc to be around in order for him to play at his peak.
With Chelsea winning today against Man City, the Blues are back in contention for the title. They sit only four points behind Arsenal, and nine off the leaders, with a game in hand. If Chelsea and Arsenal take points off Man Utd, the title race could become a lot more interesting.
With a few weeks of international football to come, there may be fewer posts on the blog for a while. We will keep up to date with Arsenal news, and possibly make the odd post on the Euro qualifiers.
For any lovers of great football, check out this link. The second goal may remind you of Messi’s against Arsenal at the Nou Camp, but there are some truly wonderful goals in those compilations.