W.B.A 1 – 2 Arsenal
As Arsenal looked to close the gap on Tottenham & Chelsea, they traveled to the Hawthorns to face West Bromwich Albion. The Baggies have enjoyed a good season, and have maintained eighth position in the league, despite witnessing a dip in recent form. Consequently, The Gunners were looking to take advantage.
Arsenal began the game tentatively. West Brom were hassling for possession at every opportunity, and were looking very organised going forward.[quote_right]”A brilliant pass from Arteta set Gervinho off inside the box. His quick feet & accurate cross found Rosicky who simply attacked the ball with his head to apply the finish.”[/quote_right]
Arteta, Ramsey & Rosicky in the centre were not having the best of starts. Misplaced passes and poor challenges set the scene for a hectic midfield battle, most of which were being won by The Baggies. However, as the game progressed, Arsenal became more and more composed both offensively and defensively.
Fabianski had a few shaky moments, most notably with the crosses being lofted in from West Brom attacks and corners. His positioning was poor and he was beaten a number of times in the air. On one occasion, Tomas Rosicky was called upon to head the ball off the goal-line.
Twenty minutes in, Rosicky popped up yet again. This time however, he headed the ball into the back of the net. A brilliant pass from Arteta set Gervinho off inside the box. His quick feet and accurate cross found Rosicky who simply attacked the ball with his head to apply the finish, relaxing some Arsenal nerves in the process.
After the goal, the tempo of the game remained the same. West Brom kept up their attacks, but Arsenal looked more relaxed in the face of danger.
Just before half time, a neat pass from Cazorla and an excellent back-heel from Giroud allowed Aaron Ramsey to have a shot at goal – no more than seven yards out. He took a touch, and nervously poked at the ball in an awkward sliding motion as a West Brom defender rattled in from behind. As a result, the awful shot rolled wide of the post. Ramsey had missed a golden opportunity.
The second half was a real Rollercoaster. After a calm start from Arsenal, Tomas Rosicky was yet again the man of the moment for the second goal in the fiftieth minute. Aaron Ramsey crossed to Rosicky, who hammered his first shot at Foster. The ball was parried, but Tomas ran in and finished off the chance by lashing it across goal.
Soon after Rosicky’s second goal, the real fun started.[quote_left]”For Twenty
agonizing minutes, the heart of every Arsenal fan was thumping…”[/quote_left]
A long, lofted ball was played over the top of the Arsenal defence, which drew a rash, silly sliding challenge from Mertesacker on Long. It was undeniably a penalty and a red card. Morrison stepped up, and his tame penalty managed to elude Fabianksi. Now was the time to be nervous.
For Twenty agonizing minutes, the heart of every Arsenal fan was thumping. West Brom were invigorated by the sending off, and were pummeling the Arsenal backline with crosses and long balls over the top.
However, for what seemed like an eternity, the Arsenal back four – reinforced by the introduction of Vermaelen, stood strong. Three points were an absolute must, and this was reflected in the staunch defensive display from The Gunners.
In the end, it was three points very well earned.
[title]Arsenal Player Ratings[/title]
Lukasz had a very shaky first half, missing crosses and looking nervous in general. But he made a few excellent stops throughout the game, managing to keep hold of some powerful shots.
Woeful crossing throughout the game, but Sagna did a good defensive job, especially in the closing minutes.
A mixed bag from Per. His first half was steady, and he showed great intelligence and experience to calculate a slip to fall on top of the ball inside our area, stopping what would have surely been a goal. However, he showed the exact opposite for his straight red card.
Laurent had another good game, making some good challenges and reading the play very well, especially in the first half. Looked calm and relaxed in the final minutes when we needed him most.
Nacho has grown into the side brilliantly. Good offensive and defensive play, with a great work ethic. A fully fit Gibbs on the bench implies that Monreal is now our first-choice LB.
His pass leading up to Rosicky’s first goal was immaculate, but he made a string of rash tackles throughout the game to get himself booked. Needs to be more calm when defending.
Hard to see how Ramsey starts ahead of Coquelin. Poor defensive work coupled with an awful miss just yards from goal made up a sloppy performance from Ramsey. Consistently bad performances such as these usually result in a lengthy spell on the bench. Aaron seems to be immune. However, he did manage to get an assist for Rosicky’s second.
After a shaky start, Rosicky grew into the game to lead us to victory. His first goal was well taken, and his second was pure quality. A great first touch, powerful strike, followed up with a calm, yet fierce finish. Controlled the midfield for large patches of the game.
His pass to Giroud in the build up to Ramsey’s miss was inch-perfect. However, Santi looked entirely off the pace for the vast majority of the game. Barely saw the Spaniard’s face.
Yet another mixed bag – this time from a likely source. Gervinho’s quick feet and cross for Rosicky’s first goal was excellent, but the Ivorian was ineffective for the rest of the game, offering very little going forward.
Showed some great movement and touches yet again, but failed to take part in any of the goals. Almost got on the scoresheet late on, but Olivier had a very quiet game in general.
Came on to held solidify our defence, and he did just that. With Per banned for the next match, Thomas will be looking to claw his was back into the starting line-up.
Coquelin: [N/A], Gibbs: [N/A]
If we are to pull off yet another fourth spot comeback, winning games under immense pressure and unfavourable circumstances is exactly what we need to be doing. Today, Arsenal proved that they are indeed capable of doing just that.
These three points feel amazing thanks to the passion and guile showed by the boys in Red – a pleasant and welcome change. With seven games left to go, we will certainly be in for a tough ride. But if today is anything to go by, we just might make it. Up next is Norwich at home. Bring it on.
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