Arsenal: Szczesny, Jenkinson, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Gibbs, Arteta, Flamini, Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil, Giroud
Subs: Fabianski, Monreal, Vermaelen, Rosicky, Gnabry, Ryo, Bendtner
Jack Wilshere’s first Premier League goal in three years rescued a point for Arsenal as Arsene Wenger’s side fought from one-nil down at half-time to grab a draw against West Brom. Claudio Yacob had headed the home side in front before the break and despite chances for both teams to grab a winner following Wilshere’s low volley, a draw was just about the right result.
Much like the game at Swansea a couple of weeks ago the first fifteen minutes were spent trying to manipulate the ball through a very crowded midfield and while our play was tidy enough, the home side weren’t unduly troubled.
The first shot in anger came from West Brom’s Premier League debutant Berahino. The England under-21 international, who scored the winner at Old Trafford last weekend, stepped inside Jenkinson, fired goalwards and saw his effort take a wicked deflection off Flamini’s arse. The ball looked destined to end up in the back of the net but Szczesny somehow changed direction to dive full stretch and palm the ball clear. It was a superb save.
After that we probed. And probed. And probed. Our passing was crisp, Giroud the perfect foil for the movement of Wilshere, Ramsey and Ozil. However, we lacked end product. Arteta had a shot blocked (by Giroud), Gibbs fired over, Wilshere hit wide and Giroud dipped an effort straight at keeper Myhill.
In between Flamini picked up his customary booking – for shin kicking Amalfitano – while both Ramsey and Wilshere, who kept getting caught in possession, needed treatment for knee and eye problems respectively.
Despite being in control for much of the half we got sloppy in the minutes before the break. The Baggies won a couple of corners targeting Gibbs’ flank and while the second was initially cleared by Jenkinson the ball was quickly worked out wide to Amalfitano who crossed to the near post for an unmarked Yacob to head downwards past Szczesny at the near post. (1-0)
Wilshere capped a poor personal 45 minutes with a booking for a clumsy challenge much to the enjoyment of the raucous home fans.
We started on the back foot from the off in the second period and were very lucky not to find ourselves 2-0 down when Anelka somehow squandered a tap in from two yards after great work by Berahino. The ex-Gunner also conceived to miss another guilt edge chance six minutes later when he cut in on goal from the left, after being played onside by Koscielny, only to curl the ball wide of Szczesny’s far post.
In between Jack squandered a great chance to equalise. Fed by Giroud he shot over wildly although the replay suggested he was unlucky not to get a penalty after getting crunched on the ankle by Billy Jones. The England man would have been most people’s choice to be subbed on the hour mark but instead Rosicky replaced Ramsey who seemed to be nursing the knee he had earlier knocked.
Of course it had to be Jack who grabbed the equaliser. Ozil won the ball in midfield, bound down the right wing and fed Giroud. The Frenchman held up play, skipped past one man and laid the ball to Rosicky on the edge of the box. The Czech flicked the ball back to Wilshere who promptly hammered home a low volley. It took a slight deflection which left Myhill wrong footed but it was a fantastic strike all the same. (1-1)
The energy and trickery of Berahino and Sessegnon meant the homes side were a continued threat on the break and Szczesny had to be alert to push away a Billy Jones long-range effort. It was end-to-end stuff and you sensed it could go either way in the final 15 minutes.
Taking confidence from his goal Wilshere played a fantastic through ball to Giroud who rounded Myhill but couldn’t find a finish with the goal beckoning. It was the Gallic hitman’s last serious bit of action with Wenger sending on Nicklas Bendtner in his place for the last five minutes.
For all the frenetic play there was little goalmouth action in the final moments. While the Gunners’ surrender their winning run away from home they do, thanks to West Ham’s 3-0 win over Spurs, return to the top of the table. Not an insignificant little stat as we head into the international break.9,001 views