Arsenal hosted West Bromwich Albion at the Emirates in London for the English Premier League encounter. Arsenal struck the post twice in one second with just 10 minutes played. While they played with purpose, they could not find their trademark rhythm at all in the opening half of the match. Nigerian Odemwingie had an above average match, being involved in most of West Brom attacks.
The Gunners looked too anxious to get an early goal, which appeared further and further with each desperate attempt. At the back, they defended further away from each, inviting West Brom to have a go at them, resulting in the visitors striking the post and then eventually getting a penalty. Emmanuel Alimuna endeared himself with the fans as he saved the spot-kick.
Arsenal allowed West Brom too much space, making them see a lot of the ball and inviting them to penetrate through the centre and wings. Odemwingie tapped in a cross from left after a quick exchange of passes in the 50th minute. A minute later Jara embarrassed Alimuna at the near post when he finished off a solo effort. The goal was a result of vast distances of cover in defence.
The defensive behaviour in midfield was never up to scratch either, as it became either too large or too short, resulting in 2 or 3 defenders being beaten by the same ball or dribble. A double substitution by Arsene Wenger upped the stakes for the Gunners. Tomas Rosiscky replaced Abu Diaby and Jack Wilshire replaced Emmanuel Eboue. The resultant efforts saw Samir Nasri being crudely brought down in the box but the referee wanted to see his head on a platter before he could give a penalty.
Arsenal started to be very generous with the ball, cheaply giving away possession under no pressure at all. West Brom, smelling blood, pushed forward at pace looking for more opportunities. Alex Song took a more offensive attitude and twice came close to pulling a goal back. Carlos Vela replaced Kosienly in the 65th minute, and injected more life into the Arsenal offensive.
A big concern for Wenger is the fact that whenever the West Brom attack was slow, the recovery speed was slow and the man under pressure had cover that was 20 metres away and during counter attacks, the next support would be within one metre. Jerome Thomas punished Alimuna’s indecision in the 72nd minute as he failed to go down for a low ball across the 6 yard box.
Nasri however, showed a lot of maturity when he beat several defenders to stab the ball home 2 minutes later. Last minute efforts to save face by the hosts proved futile as the West Brom defence stood firm with good cover and support for each other at every occasion. With 5 minutes of injury time to play, Arshavin played Nasri a cool pass for the 2nd Arsenal goal. The goal made the Gunners stronger and kept fans on the edge of their seats. Arsenal were never to come back.
Dirk Kuyt and Steven Gerrard scored as Liverpool drew 2-2 with Sunderland, in a match in which Darren Bent scored twice, one of them a penalty. Piquionne scored 29th minute goal as West Ham beat Tottenham Hotspur. Modric made a successful comeback and was denied by the post. Huddleston failed to tap into an empty net after beating the keeper. Fulham and Everton drew 0 – 0, as did Birmingham and Wigan Athletic. Blackpool’s Adam scored an own goal to hand Blackburn a 1 – 0 win.
Both Arsenal and Spurs will give an excuse of this week’s Carling Cup encounters as well as next week’s Champions League fixtures. Is it valid, or just what it is, an excuse?