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Arsenal 2-0 West Brom: Gunners ride their luck to hold off plucky West Brom (Review)

Lacazette in fine form

Lacazette in fine form

Arsenal 2-0 WBA
Emirates Stadium
25th September 2017 – Premier League

A reasonable performance tonight from Arsenal.

WBA had some good chances in the first-half, and looked pretty dangerous in parts. However, they crumbled as Arsenal’s quality was too much for them. Pulis had supposedly never won at Arsenal before, and he needs to wait another season to get a win.

Overall, Arsenal looked pretty sharp, though were lucky in specific points. A penalty was not awarded for WBA in the first-half, and there was also a goal-line clearance from Monreal. Though it was ultimately a clean sheet and a decent win for Arsenal.

First half

Alexis had some chances to score via free-kicks and Arsenal did score from one of them. Sanchez hit the bar, with Lacazette moving in before the WBA defenders to head home. However, before that, WBA were clear with a run from Rodriguez, who was caught by Mustafi. It was a patent penalty, though the ref chose not to give it, as Rodriguez  decided not to stay down, got up and fired a shot, which was well-saved by Cech.

Mustafi dodges a bullet

Mustafi dodges a bullet

Thought the ref possibly had a poor game tonight.

Ramsey headed over from a cross, and Lacazette missed a chance later on. The first-half, despite Arsenal leading, was pretty mixed. Both Arsenal and WBA had good chances to score in this contest.

Second half

Arsenal turned the screw and WBA gave way. From the start, Arsenal looked sharper, and were more resolute in countering WBA’s physicality at the back and in midfield. Alexis had some chances, and tried his usual tricks, while Lacazette scored from the penalty-spot following some good play from Ramsey. He was brought down by Nyom in the box, and Lacazette continued his excellent penalty form from Ligue 1.

Ramsey beats Nyom

Ramsey beats Nyom

WBA hardly threatened in this half, and Arsenal was able to match them physically. It was the extra quality of Arsenal that told in the end and it proved telling as Arsenal could (and possibly should) have won by more.

Impressions/player ratings

A resolute, attractive, and stern performance by Arsenal. They weathered the storm of WBA’s directness and ambition in the opening minutes, and ultimately were too strong for them.  in the end, West Brom didn’t have the energy, discipline, or perhaps the quality to sustain this over the match’s duration, and were trumped by Arsenal’s own resoluteness.

Cech and the defence didn’t have much to worry about ultimately, though Mustafi was lucky not to concede that early penalty. Koscielny and Monreal looked able, whilst Bellerin and Kolasinac went ahead without much hindrance. In some ways, it was a classic game of two halves, though West Brom had managed to formulate and implement a reasoned tactical plan.

Ratings: Cech 7, Mustafi 6, Koscielny 7, Monreal 8, Kolasinac 6, Bellerin 7

The midfield also handled WBA well. Elneny was tidy, sharp, and executed excellent distribution. Xhaka’s passing at times was a little off, though he withstood the expanded WBA midfield well. Ramsey was more in his Wales national team position, and looked very bright compared to recent outings.

An invested Alexis tried all his tricks

Alexis tried all his tricks

Ratings: Elneny 8, Xhaka 6, Ramsey 8

The attack is where Arsenal shone tonight, in my mind. Talk of Alexis not being interested is patently false, on tonight’s showing. He dazzled the West Brom defence and got an assist (technically) for Lacazette’s first goal. Lacazette himself was superb. He showed strength in the attack, great link-up play, and the capability to hold off challenges and make telling shots in the box. His penalty was also well executed, and reminiscent of the best of Wright and Henry.

Ratings: Alexis 8, Lacazette 9

Giroud, Ozil, and very briefly Maitland-Niles, came on as subs, but neither had the opportunity to impact the game much.
However, I do believe Arsenal’s performance was rooted in matching WBA for their intensity and commitment. Pulis will feel aggrieved at some shoddy refeering, though Arsenal’s superior quality proved instrumental in attaining the win here.

Penalty buried, MOTM Lacazette claims his brace.

Penalty buried, MOTM Lacazette claims his brace.

Man of the MatchAlexandre Lacazette.

Many players here had good games. Cech, Koscielny, Monreal, Elneny, Ramsey, Alexis, Bellerin, to name several. Nonetheless, Lacazette for me was tops, given his work-rate, trickery around the box, and finishing. He is the striker we’ve been calling out for in years, and with four Premier League goals already is fully capable of challenging Lukaku, Morata, Aguero, and Mr. Kane who plays just south of Edmonton.

For those who watch ESPN FC, a certain ex-Arsenal player (Robson) said that he won’t cut it in the Premier League. Well, granted, it’s still early doors (to use an inane cliché) but then I wonder what he thinks when he sees this kind of performance? And the other goals he has scored, which all have been top quality? There is no reason why Monsieur Lacazette cannot score 20 goals minimum in all competitions this season.

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