West Bromwich Albion 1 (Morrison 71 (pen)) – Arsenal 2 (Rosicky 20, 50)
Man of the Match – Tomas Rosicky (Arsenal)
Tremendous relief spread over every part of my body, heart and mind, as I finally watched the team that adorns red and white, with a golden cannon on the chest, after a long mind-searing hiatus that spanned 21 days.
Having missed real football, owing to the international break, and then travelling the length of the west coast of the humungous country that I hail from, due to which I missed the Reading game, West Brom away finally provided some respite, albeit with the usual frustratingly Arsenal moments.
With Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott still facing time on the sidelines, and Abou Diaby literally ruled out for the rest of his career, Arsene Wenger kept faith in Laurent Koscielny at the heart of defence, Lukasz Fabianksi in goal, and Tomas Rosicky in midfield.
Rosicky was central to everything early in the game, as his shot in the 7th minute went narrowly wide. And moments later, he made a goal line clearance to deny Claudio Yacob a goal. In the 20th minute, Mikel Arteta played a delightful ball, collected by er, inform, er, Gervinho, who bamboozled some poor West Brom defender, before his shot, or was it a cross was cut short by the head of Tomas Rosicky to divert it into the back of Ben Foster’s net.
Rosicky and Gervinho almost combined again to score a goal, but the Ivorian goal scoring machine could only get a save from Foster. At the other hand, well, Fabianski was being Fabianski, making his usual fumbles, punching hapless opposition players instead of the ball, and making some poor distribution of the ball.
However, he did pull of a save from a Chris Brunt free-kick that threatened to sneak in. Arsenal should have doubled the lead at half-time, when some delightful build up play involving Cazorla and Giroud combined to set up Ramsey, who scuffed his shot wide, with pressure from Foster and Olsson.
Rosicky and Gervinho were again central to Arsenal’s attack, with West Brom players clearly instructed to stifle Cazorla. Gervinho almost set up Sagna, but the right-back and Foster reached the ball at the same time, the goalkeeper managing to prevent danger.
Ramsey then played a long ball to Rosicky, who took the volley option, but shot straight at Foster. The rebound fell kindly, and the Czech obliged with his second goal of the game. This was his first brace in the Premier League, and his second brace for Arsenal, the last being at Anfield against Liverpool in a 3-1 win in January 2007.
West Brom tried to get going with Morrison and Long causing a few problems for the defence, and at one stage, Morrison almost had Mertesacker under wraps, but the German managed to hoof the ball to safety. The German caused more panic, when he made a poor pass to Koscielny, which was intercepted by Long.
The Frenchman mistimed his tackle, picking up a booking in the process, and Fabianski saved the resultant free-kick. And Arsenal showed typical self-destructing traits when Mertesacker tackled Long in the box, and bought him down, earned a red card, and have a penalty, which was duly put away by Morrison, to give West Brom a semblance of chance.
The manager bought on Thomas Vermaelen in place of Gervinho, and later Rosicky was sacrificed for Gibbs. From the sending off, it was all West Brom, who were causing plenty of problems through Romelu Lukaku, who didn’t give a moments peace to Sagna.
Arsenal suddenly lost all their edge, and managed to make only 17 completed passes in the final 20-odd minutes. Mistimed challenges, rash defending, and poor hold up play meant West Brom came all blazing at Arsenal’s goal.
McAuley headed off target, Lukaku dragged his shot wide, with the whole goal gaping and Long’s shot went over the bar, as the Baggies paid for their profligacy.
So, another vital 3 points. And to make matters better, Sp*rs showed their typical bottling qualities, as they could only manage a 2-2 draw at home to Everton. This leaves Arsenal 2 points behind Sp*rs with a game in hand.
Plenty of positives to draw from the game. Firstly, the fact that the Munich win has rejuvenated the squad, and they look like they believe in themselves. Victories in Wales and Birmingham have propelled our chances of finishing in the top 4.
Nacho Monreal was hugely impressive and looks like he is really getting set into the environs of the English league. A solid, reliable, no-nonsense defender, who can go forward. Koscielny was at his best again, non-compromising, while Mertesacker can take stock over his poor display. Fabianski showed why he can be so unreliable, with his almost maniacal and bizarre goalkeeping decisions.
Arteta had some delightful moments, but faded away as the pressure grew. Cazorla was maligned, while Giroud cut a frustrating figure as lone striker. Gervinho seems to be getting into the thick of things, and you have to wonder what it takes to make him play like this all season.
Tomas Rosicky bought plenty of freshness, driving forward, and making those passes to the front men, giving Arsenal some outlay to work upon. Sadly, his injuries have had such a huge say in his career. If only..
But, here we are, on another run, just like last season. Time to finish as high as possible and take stock in summer!
Jai Arsenal 🙂
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