Hawthorn In Our Side: West Brom 1 – 1 Arsenal* [P] – Report & Player Ratings

Final Score
West Brom 1 – 1 Arsenal* [P]

After cruising to set piece inspired victory against Stoke, Arsenal took the opportunity to rest some key players ahead of their Capital One Cup visit to The Hawthorns, where they were to face West Brom. Due to a vast array of injuries, the travelling Arsenal squad was looking relatively weak, and so The Gunners needed to be on top of their game. [quote_right]”As the game dragged on (and it did drag on), Arsenal began showing small signs of improvement…”[/quote_right]

The first half was, well, boring.

Neither Arsenal nor West Brom managed to come forward with any purpose, despite a few good offensive moves by The Baggies, pulled forward by Sessengon.

There were admittedly a few nervous moments in and around the Arsenal box early on, but nothing that the defence and goalkeeper couldn’t handle.

As the game dragged on (and it did drag on), Arsenal began showing small signs of improvement, as Nicklas Bendtner and Gnabry produced a few good passes and runs, all of which however, amounted to nothing.

The half time whistle soon blew, bringing an end to a poor first period, with the scoreline unchanged, and spectators unmoved.

Unfortunately, the second half was very similar to the first.

The only difference, was the fact that Nicklas Bendtner was playing well enough to put Thomas Eisfeld through on goal in the sixty-first minute. The young German made no mistake with his finish, and tucked it away confidently.[quote_left]”Both sides realised that extra time loomed, and both seemed happy to wait for it…”[/quote_left]

It looked as if it might be “one of those games”, where one goal would be enough to separate two uninspiring sides. Yet, just ten minutes after Eisfeld’s opener, Arsenal’s poor defending had managed to rear its head once again.

A West Brom corner was swung in towards the back post, where a West Brom player was ready to cross the ball back into danger. The second cross was met by Berahino’s header, who was unmarked. Fabianksi had no chance, and Arsenal’s defenders were left with egg on their faces. Yet gain.

The rest of the game was painfully familiar to the first half, where both teams seemed to be out of ideas, despite never really creating anything in the first place.

Both sides realised that extra time loomed, and both seemed happy to wait for it. The referee blew, and so Arsenal had another thirty minutes left to save their League Cup campaign.

[title]Extra Time[/title]

It feels like I’m being lazy when I yet again use the word boring to describe the first half of extra time, but trust me, it was.

Arsenal looked desperately out of ideas, whilst West Brom were showing signs of fatigue. Nicklas Bendtner missed a good one-on-one chance to put Arsenal ahead, but his clear lack of fitness and match practise

The second half was more exciting, but for all the wrong reasons. The Baggies were bombarding our box with crosses and testing our goal with shots,one of which thundered off the crossbar.

Arsenal continued to poke around in the final third, but never really threatened the West Brom goal. In the end, it was all to be decided from the spot.

[title]Penalties[/title]

Here are the penalty takers, and the outcome of their spot kicks.

[table id=9 /]

End Result: West Brom 3 – 4 Arsenal

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[title]Arsenal Player Ratings[/title]

Fabianski: [7.5/10]
Lukasz made some good stops throughout the game, and did well when dealing with crosses and loose balls. He showed some initiative with his pre-penalty mind games, which I’d like to think paid off. A solid performance.

Jenkinson: [6.5/10]
Solid at the back, and tidy whilst on the ball in the final third. I would have liked to have seen him whip in a few more crosses though.

Mertesacker: [6.5/10]
Rarely needed to touch the ball under pressure due to the lack of flow in the game. Dealt with most attacks well, but should have done a better job, along with the rest of the defence, for the West Brom goal.

Vermaelen: [6.5/10]
An average game with not too much to do, but earned himself a needless yellow card for a late slide. Needs a run of games to get back to his best.

Monreal: [7/10] – MOTM
Nacho really looked good on the ball from start to finish, but was guilt of not getting forward enough to help Miyaichi out in my opinion. However, he scored the winning penalty, under much pressure, so he gets my MOTM award. Mainly by default.

Hayden: [6/10]
Contributed to Arsenal’s sloppy play throughout the midfield, but put himself about a bit too, to help slow West Brom. Nearly got himself sent off.

Arteta: [6/10]
You would have wanted and expected Arteta to have made a bigger impact, especially when it was obvious that Arsenal were lacking creativity. A bog standard performance from Mikel.

Eisfeld: [6.5/10]
Tried his best to make things happen, but he simply couldn’t. His passing was okay, but he never truly inspired anything going forward. However, he took his goal very, very well.

Myaichi: [6/10]
A mixed bag for Ryo. He showed good pace and trickery to get into interesting positions, but followed them up with a poor pass or misplaced step-over. Dare I say, his performance was Gervinho-esque.

Gnabry: [7/10]
Didn’t actually create much, nor did he score his penalty, but Serge showed some promise. He ran at defenders, beat offside traps with pace, and generally looked a threat. Not much of a threat, but a threat nevertheless.

Bendtner: [7/10]
Hmm. Throughout the first and second half, Nick showed some good touched, and did very well with his passing in the final third. He even grabbed the assist for Eidfeld’s goal. However, his fitness levels and lack of match practise showed, as he squandered a one-on-one chance in extra time, and generally got sloppier as time went on, plus. Still scored his penalty though.

Subs:

Bellerin : [6/10]
Young Hector was played centrally, and looked about as out of place as the rest of the team. So I guess that makes his performance okay.

Olsson: [6/10]
The youngster didn’t have much time to impress on the pitch, but did a decent job of shoring up the defence. Took his penalty well.

Akpom: [6.5/10]
Chuba looked lively when he came on, and I wouldn’t mind seeing more of him in other competitions. Penalty was well taken.

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[title]Hawthorn In Our Side[/title]

What a game. And I mean that in the worst way possible. For 120 minutes, we had a gigantic thorn in our side, and we just didn’t have the quality to pluck it out.

Our play was sloppy in the beginning, and only got worse as time went on. The quality of our players on the pitch was simply below par, and we were fortunate that West Brom missed their host of chances late in extra time.[quote_right]”Oh, and our unbeaten away record is still going too…”[/quote_right]

The penalties could have easily have fallen in their favour, and in such a scenario, it would have been extremely difficult to defend Wenger’s poor squad. I know we have a lot of injuries, but many of the players who played today are on the fringes of the first team. That does nothing but make me worry.

However, the penalties did go our way, and we did eventually win. That’s all that matters. Oh, and our unbeaten away record is still going too.

Next up, we travel to Swansea in the Premier League, where we’ll be hoping to get out 12th straight away win. Not too shabby.

What do you think of the West Brom vs Arsenal match? Share your views in the comments section below!

Image: Arsenal

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