Arsenal bag a win over Baggies
Written By: Robert Halter
West Bromwich Albion had been punching above their weight since Steve Clarke took charge beginning of the season but after an impressive beginning the Baggies dropped to fifth in the Premiership after consecutive defeats to Swansea City and Stoke City which was in contrast to Arsenal who had made their worst start to a Premier League campaign in Arsene Wenger’s sixteen years at the club. In the final game at the Emirates Stadium before Christmas, the Gunners added festive cheer by dedicating the match against the Throstles to the Arsenal Foundation to help raise funds for the club’s charitable arm for helping transform the lives of young people which included Save the Children. When Thomas Vermaelen won a header as Boaz Myhill tried to punch the ball clear, Gervinho scuffed his effort wide on five minutes as he was unable to convert a good Gunners opportunity. Liam Ridgwell’s involvement in the game was short lived due to injury as he was replaced by Goran Popov, two minutes later. Midway through the first half, a long range swerving strike by Chris Brunt went narrowly over Wojciech Szczesny’s upright, after Youssouf Mulumbu won the ball, as Albion pressed forward for the first time. But it was the Baggies that fell behind on twenty six minutes, after referee Mike Jones awarded the Gunners a penalty as Steven Reid was adjudged to have clipped Santi Cazorla in the penalty area and Mikel Arteta made no mistake from the spot as he drove the ball past Myhill into the centre of the net. A fine Arsenal move that started with Cazorla supplying Gervinho on the left flank failed to be converted by Jack Wilshere as his outstretched leg diverted the ball wide in the thirty eighth minute. Four minutes from normal time in the first half, Gervinho forced Myhill into a full length save with Reid clearing the danger for the Throstles as the Gunners looked lively just before the break. On fifty four minutes, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain saw his effort go over from a pin point accurate cross by Wilshere as the Gunners pressed forward once again. But Arsenal were awarded a second spot kick in the game for a reckless challenge by Baggies captain Brunt on Oxlade-Chamberlain. Arteta stepped up to convert his second penalty with a curling strike into the heart of the goal to double the Gunners advantage in the sixty fourth minute. A low drive by Oxlade-Chamberlain had to be pushed away by Myhill in the final quarter of the game as Arsenal kept up their ascendancy going forward. The Ox was then replaced by Francis Coquelin. Arteta had a sniff at goal as he went close from a free kick, after Reid had fouled Gervinho in the eightieth minute. Gervinho then made way for Tomas Rosicky. Second half WBA sub Markus Rosenberg tested Szczesny at distance on eighty six minutes but the Gunners keeper parried the ball away to end the Baggies hopes of a late charge which was coupled by a missed header from their other sub Romelu Lukaku, soon after. After Lukas Podolski got a few minutes of action in favour of Cazorla, he spurned a glorious Gunners chance at the end when from Wilshere’s cross, Podolski fired over in front of the target but by then the Gunners had ended their three game winless run in the league with a much needed victory which saw them move up four places in the table to sixth spot.