If there were any doubts over West Brom’s quality since the start of the season, the last two performances by Baggies have surely convinced people of their quality.
Last week, West Brom proved to people that they certainly were no pushovers, as they beat Utd with real ease at Old Trafford. It was never going to be an easy game coming into the Hawthorns, and having seen what West Brom can do in previous weeks, we were prepared for a battle.
Arsene’s only change to the side that beat Napoli 2-0 on Tuesday was the introduction of Wilshere in place of Tomas Rosicky. Somewhat of a strange move in my opinion, considering Wilshere had lighten up the headlines quite recently. I felt Rosicky did very well against Napoli as he showed why experience can be vital for us this season. The squad still clearly lacks depth, as our striking options were limited to Bendtner on the bench.
West Brom started the match with a bit of fire in their belly . It seemed like every ball being pumped into the box was going to be a dangerous ball to work with. I must say that Arsenal handled the majority of the pressure well and were even able to create a bit of a tempo at times. The only thing missing was the final ball unfortunately, as it seemed like almost every time we got the ball into a good position, we would try and make something happen that was clearly never going to be pulled off. There were a couple of poor players in the first half, most notably Jack Wilshere and Carl Jenkinson. One thing that I have to say about Jenkinson is that he does put in an excruciating amount of effort into everything he does, unfortunately he just isn’t of the same level as Sagna. Wilshere seemed more of a ghost of a player, as almost every single West Brom player was able to knock him off the ball with ease. Of course the match wasn’t made any easier thanks to some poor officiating by Lee Mason who was abysmal to say the least. West Brom scored a deserved goal after lots of pressure towards the second half. Their ball into the box was usually very dangerous and for once the Arsenal defence were left stranded thanks to a great header by Yacob. The match entered half time at 1-0.
Arsenal started the second half with a bit more pace, but a bit less composure. This was evident by the amount of balls that Arsenal failed to deliver to a player into the box as well as the amount of passes going astray. To be fair to the players, West Brom were playing with ten men behind the ball and hardly let Arsenal change direction of the game. They had to do something and unfortunately almost every chance created ended in disappointment. West Brom played well in the second half and didn’t just try to get the draw. Fair play to them for actually trying to score a winner as most teams will just shut off when they were at a decent result against a top club. Arsenal’s goal came from almost nothing as Ozil did well to play in Giroud, who sent the ball to Rosicky who set up Wilshere to strike a sweet volley from outside the box. It took a deflection but take nothing away from the skill and technique used by the young English midfielder. Arsenal’s only other good chance came shortly afterwards and once again, it was Wilshere who was involved. He set up Giroud with a delightful through ball and unfortunately, Myhill stood up strong to deny the Frenchman. There were not really any other clear cut opportunities and the match ended one all.
Overall, it is definitely a point won rather two lost. You would expect Arsenal to play a little better but all credit goes to West Brom, they were actually decent. Anyways, coming to the Hawthorns is never easy as many teams have been beaten there. A point sends Arsenal back up to first in the league thanks to having scored more goals than Liverpool.
Speaking after the game to the media, Wenger talked about the performance.
“Pleased? No because I want to win but if you ask me if it was a fair point over the 90 minutes I would say yes. Why? Because we were 1-0 down just before half-time and straight after half-time Anelka misses a chance for 2-0 and that would have made it difficult. After that I have some regrets because when we came back to 1-1 in the last half an hour we had the chances to score a second goal but we have shown spirit to come back and we did give it our all until the end to try to win. But they did as well and they have many players who can provoke one against one on the break and run with the ball so they made it difficult for us and they defended very well. West Brom confirmed today why they won at Manchester United because they have good pace in every position and they have a huge squad. When you think today Anichebe was not there and they had Long and Morrsion on the bench. Dorrans was not in the squad so they have a massive squad of quality players.”
“I feel it was important not to lose once we were down today and that is the most important thing. For the mental comfort it’s good to remain top after two away games.”
Wenger seems disappointed not to have won as any good manager would be. However, we have to remember that the race to the Premier League title is not a sprint it’s a marathon. You aren’t going to win it by trying something crazy in every match. The key to the title is consistency, and so far, Arsenal are the most consistent team in the league. If we can keep that up, I have no doubts that we will be up there when the curtains start to draw to a close.