Arsenal 2 – 0 West Bromwich Albion
A comfortable win last night at the Emirates, with a decent performance. The margin of victory should have been more and with some harum-scarum defending in the first half, a lot tighter. As it was, an Alexandre Lacazette double gave us three points which took us to within touching distance of the top four.
The French international played well, causing Albion plenty of nervous moments with his movement and going forward, as a unit, we were fairly cohesive and not too inclined to pass sideways all the time. Generally, when we got to the flanks, there was an intent about the play which meant the next ball was invariably into the area.
His first, a true striker’s goal, nodded home after Foster tipped Alexis’ free-kick onto the bar. The visitors defence went AWOL and Lacazette pounced. The second, a well-struck penalty, into the corner leaving the Albion ‘keeper with no chance of stopping it, even if he moved before the kick was taken. Which he did, as if to prove the point.
He’s not only a goalscorer, his link up play is good. He fights as well, he’s not fazed by the physical challenges that West Brom gave us today and overall he looks to adapt very quickly and very well.
Mo Elneny dropped into the centre of midfield and Ramsey given licence to roam. Which he did to good effect, I thought. At times, it left us a little under-manned on the right going forward but overall, the Welsh international, released from his defensive burden, did well to get forward in support of the attack. And probably deserved a goal.
Do The Sand Dance
Introducing Mesut Özil as a late substitute probably ends that experiment for the time being but if the German continues to flirt with other clubs, we may it happen more frequently particularly in the Europa League, particularly if we get out of the group stage.
Elneny also gave Granit Xhaka good support and a steadying hand on the tiller. The absence of rash challenges from the Swiss suggests confidence that he wasn’t he was aware that he wasn’t the last line of defence. It worked well with the Egyptian popping up in support of the attack without a feeling that the defence was left exposed.
Mind you, Nacho Monreal was there so we didn’t have to worry. It was a toss-up between the Spaniard and Elneny as to who was Man of the Match. Monreal even pitched in as an attacking threat; a goal would have capped off a fine night’s work. Particularly as he hooked one off the line when it seemed impossible for Albion to miss.
Two players who deserved a goal? 4 – 0 wouldn’t have flattered us at the final whistle. At half-time, there was a sense that 1 – 0 was flattering as Albion caused mayhem before the interval. I still can’t work out how Rodriguez didn’t score when Bellerin couldn’t clear properly and missed the ball.
That’s the way we roll in home games. Comfortable wins with uncomfortable moments.
They Spin Around and They Cross the Floor
Tony Pulis whined after Albion were denied a nailed on penalty when Mustafi tagged Rodriguez with an unnecessary slide into the challenge. There’s a Koscielny-esque willingness to lurch into situations without thinking about the German which is unnerving. It’s nothing a good defensive coach wouldn’t eradicate from his game; if only we had a solid centre back on the coaching staff.
Rodriguez picked himself up and duly shot, bringing an excellent save from Cech with Livermore skewing the rebound high and wide with an empty net beckoning. That’s the real source of Pulis’ frustration but the referee’s a convenient target.
Wenger had sympathy with his opponent over the incident,
The referee left the advantage and they nearly scored from that, they hit the post and I think the decision is defendable on both sides had he given a penalty or not. He left the advantage, if he gives a penalty and doesn’t give the advantage and they miss the penalty then you say why did he not leave the advantage, it’s this kind of situation.
Some you win, some you lose. Pulis reminded us that Albion hadn’t been awarded a penalty in over a year. There’s a joke in there somewhere about needing to be in the opposition penalty area to win one…
And Alexis. The sort of person the President of the United States probably calls an ‘SOB’ behind closed doors. ‘Off with his head!’, Tone told anyone who wasn’t bleeding from the ears after his whining pierced their ear drums. ‘Book ‘im for diving and then he’s off for yellow card he got for dissent!’ is the last resort of a man who knew his team needed to face ten-man Arsenal to win.
They like the Punk and the Metal Band
Three points is three points with all donations gratefully received.
Finally today, a new post at Dad Jukebox. Records of the Week which deserved their own pieces but I just ran out of time so I’ve summarised them in around 140 characters.