Report: Arsenal 1-0 West Brom (inc goal)

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Arsenal: Cech, Bellerin, Gabriel, Koscielny, Gibbs, Xhaka, Coquelin, Ozil, Alexis, Iwobi, Giroud

Subs: Ospina, Holding, Monreal, Elneny, Ramsey, Reine-Adelaide, Lucas

Arsenal left it late to beat an obdurate West Brom side 1-0 at the Emirates today.

Arsene Wenger made a couple of changes from the team that lost 2-1 to Man City with Kieran Gibbs replacing Nacho Monreal at left-back, while Olivier Giroud was handed his first  Premier League start of the season which meant Alexis Sanchez on the left, with Alex Iwobi on the right.

The game settled into a familiar pattern early on with Arsenal having plenty of the ball and West Brom sitting deep. Granit Xhaka shot wide before Mesut Ozil saw an effort blocked from inside the box. Giroud tried his luck after good work from Gibbs but curled his shot over the bar and Sanchez hit one wide of the post, all in the first fifteen minutes.

A dangerous Gibbs cross was cleared by Jacob as Iwobi looked set to pounce, Xhaka fired another one wide from distance, while Petr Cech had to be strong from a couple of West Brom corners.

The visitors game-plan was obvious, none of which made it any less frustrating for Arsenal who had lots of the ball but due to the wall of striped shirts found it very difficult to create anything clear cut.

Nacer Chadli flicked a header at goal but saw Cech equal to it, before Forster saved from Sanchez. Iwobi tried a chip to the top corner but off balance overhit it, Giroud had a half-hearted shout for a penalty before picking up a yellow card for dissent.

The first half ended in stalemate, and there were no changes from either manager at the break. With Chelsea winning 2-0 early in the second half of their game against Bournemouth, Arsenal’s need to find a way through was ever-increasing, however the second period settled into the same rhythm as the first.

It almost came when Sanchez got on the end of a Foster save from an Iwobi shot, but the keeper saved again. From the resulting corner the ball broke for the Chilean but he saw his shot from close range cannon back off the post.

The leading goalscorer came close again a few moments later, stinging the keeper’s palms with a shot from outside the box. Giroud saw a header on target but again Foster was equal to the effort and the pressure from Arsenal was growing.

The Frenchman forced the West Brom keeper into a save with his feet after working some space inside the box for a shot. Tony Pulis made his first change in the 62nd minute as James McClean came on for Chadli, and moments after Gibbs picked up a yellow card for a foul on Jacob which left both players down injured.

It left the England international unable to continue, and Arsene Wenger made a double change with Gibbs and Alex Iwobi coming off for Nacho Monreal and Lucas Perez in the 70th minute. That was followed a couple of minutes later when Aaron Ramsey became the final throw of the dice when he replaced Francis Coquelin.

Perez fizzed in a great low ball for Ozil and Giroud but neither player seemed to really try and make contact and the ball ran to safety for West Brom. Xhaka tried once more from distance and again missed the target.

Bellerin headed over from a promising position as the game entered the final ten minutes of normal time, and as things looked like they were going to never change, Olivier Giroud broke the deadlock in the 86th minute.

Arsenal worked it down the right, it came back to Ozil who curled it in with his left foot. The French striker held off the attentions of McAuley who seemed more interested in holding onto him than trying to win the ball, and the header looped over the keeper and into the back of the net. 1-0.

Ramsey almost doubled the leader in the final minute of normal time, but Foster’s legs again denied the Gunners a goal as the game entered four minutes of stoppage time. Bellerin saw a shot on target saved again, the England keeper having one of those games an opposition stopper always seems to have.

Foster saved from Sanchez, Ramsey had a chance to shoot with his left foot but cut back inside, but Giroud’s header turned out to be the winner, and a hugely important one at that.

110 COMMENTS

    • This is why it’s important to keep a player of Ozil’s caliber on for the full 90.

      Also Lucas needs to start more, I believe. Good win for the confidence. Onwards and upwards.

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    • Painfully so. It was basically watching the football from the simpsons for 89 mins. The 3 or so minutes where we tried to make the pitch wide and get some crosses in from the byline, we looked dangerous. I feel for Giroud really, if he played for any other side than Arsenal he’d have a statue built of his noggin because that guy scores headers consistently even with the scraps we feed him.

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      • Alternatively: West Brom made it very difficult by parking the bus (and the jumbo jet) and wasting lots of time, they’re perfectly set up to defend against lots of aimless crosses so it’s a good thing we didn’t rely on this tactic, our “Simpsons” passing tired them out over the course of the match, and, in the end, our patience paid off.

        3 points, nothing to complain about.

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  1. I wouldn’t like to see Giroud start up front again, I feel that we are stale and short on ideas in attack with him and we found it very difficult to break them down. His goal was great though and I feel he’s better suited as a ‘supersub’. would also like to see Gibbs and Perez get more game time. COYG

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    • Really don’t know what Perez has to do to get a start. Iwobi has been fairly mediocre for a couple of games now and, truth be told, he’s not really a game changer. Perez, on the other hand, definitely has the potential to hurt the opposition – makes great runs, can finish well and has a keen eye for a pass. Today’s delicious drilled cross across the box was testament to that.

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      • There’s more ways to contribute to winning a match than being a “game changer” (whatever that means). There’s linking play from defense to attack with intelligent movement off the ball, perfect first touches, composure in tight spaces, playing on the half turn, and consistently making intelligent and simple passes. Iwobi does all these things better than most. I thought he looked good today. If we start Lucas alongside both Alexis AND Walcott/Giroud, we arguably have too many direct forward-type players and not enough linking midfield-type players on the pitch.

        The starting lineup is all about balance. After that, it’s nice to have options and variety from the bench, which we have in abundance this season. I want to see more of Perez too, but not by needlessly throwing off our balance.

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        • Yes, you are absolutely right, but these things seem to apply to certain players and not all. When a Ramsey (who I’m not a fan of) or J Campbell (who I’m a fan of) does all this but doesn’t assist or defend (like Iwobi has done so many times this season) they’re not of Arsenal quality – either the manager or the fans want to shunt them away. Iwobi in my opinion is good but still not ready to be a regular starter in a title winning team and we’ve leaked a few goals and opposition have made quite a few runs that side due to the combination of Iwobi/ox & Nacho not working well.

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    • I agree to some extent, but he gave them problems today you must admit. He was something else for their defence to think and worry about. The introduction of Perez added to their problems and they couldn’t cope. Great result either way, eh?

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      • Iwobi played very well today but Perez (alongside Ramsey) gave us that off the ball movement we really needed to penetrate West Brom’s defence. He’s a bit like Theo in that sense, a more direct attacker than Iwobi

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    • Giroud won us three points many times this season yet some fans keep on denigrating him. He probably has the best ratio of goals per minute of game time in the league this season.

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    • It’s because we played him up front and completed what, like two crosses into him the entire match? The first one I actually remember was around the 70 minute mark, and he put a weak header on target, then there was of course the goal. If we’re going to play Giroud, it doesn’t make sense to do it but pretend we’ve got two copies of Alexis on the pitch.

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    • Knock him all you want, but were a better side with him in it. He ballsed up a great chance, but he did a lot more good than bad and he was more dangerous in his 15 minute cameo than either Xhaka or Coquelin were. Not to mention he’s just back from yet another spell on the sidelines so cut him some slack.

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      • I have criticised him in the past for his lack of tactical discipline playing in a midfield two, but he is a great player to have when the opponents are playing very deep and offering no great threat

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        • Playing with Ramsey in the middle is a bit like playing with 2 no.10s, like City do sometimes with Silva and KdB. There are pros and cons with that approach but I think it could work for us if we sort out our press

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          • I have to disagree. Ramsey is not a traditional no. 10. Very dissimilar to either of the two. It’s like playing Silva and one with Lampard’s characteristics. Unforunately one that is not as good as Lampard at the moment though

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    • Completely agree. I fear I’m not enjoying Arsenal games at all and it has everything to do with our style of football (or lack there of). I was fuming the whole game instead of cheering the team on. How did it come to this?!

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    • Yep and it’s worrying. It really is. So much talent and so little cohesion or focus or…

      And the way we tried to see out the last 4 minutes was insane.

      It’s just not working for whatever reason.

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        • of course. the comment regarding seeing out the last 4-5 minutes was indeed insane. Players were flying up the pitch as if to try and attempt to score another goal when all we needed was to hold on to the lead. Wenger should have been screaming at them to stay back and hold onto the ball. Complacency. Again. Sure, against West Brom it’s a positive gamble but against tougher opposition we have to be more careful.

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  2. A welcome win!

    Also, were empty seats a Boxing Day thing or has our fanbase become so fickle? I hope it’s because of the former.

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    • Lots of transport problems and no trains at all from the south coast. It took three times as long to get there and there’s no trains at all on New Year so I think that was something to do with some of the empty seats. The effort was worth it though as that Pulis team was set up to timewaste and frustrate and it was sweet to fuck them over in the last few minutes, also the crowd that was there was good, lots of noise where I was sitting!

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    • Lots of regulars missing today but more i suspect due to Christmas commitments.No bad thing in many ways as the new people around me made far more noise!

      Good backing for the boys in the second half I felt.

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    • Maybe it’s because the trains are all bollocksed in bank holidays. The days of fans walking to the ground from their homes in N1 and N5 are over as we’ve all been socially cleansed from Islington so the Mirandas and Charles Brinkley Smythes can live there.

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  3. Horrible as that was to watch for 85 minutes, could there be a sweeter way to rob Tony Pulis of that one point he was so keen on?

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  4. When we won the ball back deep in our own half we seemed to pause for two seconds, pass sideways and then diagonally by which time they had ten men behind the ball again. Only when we went one nil up did we shift the ball forward quickly. Strange.

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        • We lost our last two games, both from winning positions.

          Of course we were low on confidence. This win was important for the players to overcome that hurdle and to regain any lost momentum from those two losses.

          No offence, but how on earth can you wonder why we were low on confidence.
          If you were in a bar and approached 2 different women/men/whatever you like, and the conversation was going well, but the end result was no phone number, and complete rejection, wouldn’t you feel low on confidence?

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          • No offence to you, but I don’t expect an Arsenal team to feel unconfident after two losses in twenty, especially at home and against the opposition and manager we faced. As for the bar scenario, I would be chatting up the Stella pump and would get a result! 🙂

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        • You are right. We need to increase our 1-touch passing, especially through the middle third. Not go crazy with it, but work it in to the mix. It really does make a difference.

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        • ..because they did their best to slow us down by rarely committing more than 1-2 men forward, and packing the middle of the pitch. not saying we were perfect, but this complaint is silly.

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    • “Only when we went 1-0 up did we shift the ball forward quickly. Strange.”

      Hmm, yes, it’s so tough to explain this, it’s not like anything about West Brom’s tactical plan or behavior suddenly changed after they went 1-0 down with 5 minutes left, making it easier for us to move up the field more quickly. Incredibly strange…

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  5. A small small part of me was thinking at the 85th minute, should we just draw tonight and admit that Wenger needs to call it time at the end of season? I mean I love the man, but we are playing Pulis’ sh** team… And then Giroud scores an unlikely header.

    Three points were still very welcome! No matter what happens, I will support the team until the end of every game until the end of the season. And no matter what happens, Wenger is one of the most important man to ever represent the Arsenal. COYG!

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  6. I was watching the game simultaneously with Manutd’s and my bp was rising at an alarming rate…… Thank you Ozroud for saving me

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    • Why was you watching the man.utd game are you dobule agent fan or ? I don’t know a gunner fan watching other then arsenal game playing at the same time. Well here is the fist, hope it was a betting ticket that forced you to watch them.

      And i wouldn’t watch that cunt murinho celebretaing arogantly in a milion years even if it is only game played in a day.

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      • Good man! I rarely watch any of those other cunts at all. I certainly DO NOT do “fantasy football” of any kind either, I have seen Arsenal fans celebrate a Ruud van Nistelroy hat trick as it has got them fantasy points. Stupid cunts, it is not on!

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      • Turnaround with which opponents ?

        Sunderland, wba, palace ? Wait whe. He starts crying again in the next few games

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        • I found quite funny that he was having yet another dig at Wenger today, saying he gets away with his comments about referees. The press will be writing more shit now, what they should put “Wenger whinges one week, Mourinho whinges every week”. Honest reporting for a change.

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  7. Glad to have gotten the points today. It is insanely irritating to watch us try and play through these sorts of games when the opposition set up 10/11 men behind the ball though.
    What’s scarier still is the times we get the goal and we still go hell for leather forward instead of just knocking it around and killing the game off.
    I mean we have no issue passing it to death for the first half most of the time, just do it for the last 5 minutes when winning!
    Onto the next one

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      • Obviously when there is still 60 odd minutes then yes. But even then, I think the idea was right last two games, invite them on to you and exploit the space the opposition leaves to counter for your second.

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  8. Happy for Giroud; he really needed that and you could see in his celebration. Ozil finally gets an assist, too. Let’s hope it’s just a slight knock to Gibbs.

    Tough win to grind out against a wall of ten men in front of a goalkeeper. Now it’s time for a 10-games-winning-streak.

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  9. I was thinking wth you got Giroud in the center, we should be bombarding crosses in there. But we had Iwobi on the wing so I could understand. But then I was like ozil would be amazing playing there right now putting the balls in there from the wing. And voilà, Ozil to Giroud. So yes, I had a hand in that goal, you are most welcome

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    • Iwobi gave us a bit of intricacy and added presence in the middle. We weren’t bereft of effort out wide with both Gibbs and Bellerin to provide for crosses.

      Just lumping the ball into the middle was not necessarily effective even with Giroud.

      Also we need to keep perspective that the team wanted to hold as much possession as possible and maintain the clean sheet.

      In the end the cross to Giroud came from a diagonal from Ozil, not from out wide.

      Much of it was due to the good work the team did to grind down WBAggies and Wenger adding additional legs later to stretch them.

      Iwobi was way more effective than many imagine.

      the last thing we wanted was to squander the ball cheaply to them and Iwobi did not lose the ball often.

      Lucas when he came on otoh was guilty of a number of giveaways.

      All told, we had 11 shots on target one more that hit the post.

      So we weren’t exactly just passing sideways. However some of those shots (most) we did not take with sufficient conviction or venom or overplayed them.

      Where I think we have to improve is transition.

      This is something Granit brings. In the first half he made at least4 or 5 long range passes over the top that nearly saw Alexis in or transitioned us quicker from the back.

      With the next game, I’d like to see either of Theo or Ox come in to add a bit of pace even if we play Giroud in the middle again. Big Sam will try and play defensive again but Palace may not yet have sunk in his ‘ideals and we may be able to catch them with transitional deficiencies with a quick player in addition to Giroud.

      but blatantly Giroud does bring qualities to us when faced against entrenched opposition lying deep.

      Early

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  10. Giroud goes from ‘toiled all afternoon with little success’ to ‘battled superbly throughout and was awarded with a goal of his own making’ .

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  11. My positive take on it is this. We generally have a good year every two years. 2013/2015, whereas 2014/2016 have not been so great.
    So going by this, I think we can challenge. That and if we sign a winger who can play either side. Iwobi & Ox are good options, not good starters.

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  12. Id like to see Tony Pulis, on stage , dressed in a dapper little suit, singing “lets dance, in the old fashion way”……….or in fact anywhere other than on the sidelines of a football pitch.

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  13. 76% possession. 26 shots. 11 on goal. We destroyed them and on another day it would’ve been 4-0. Foster saved them today. People calling this a mediocre performance based on the score line have no clue.

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    • Well we destroyed them in the second half all the cahnces came in second half. We played really good in the secobd half which wenger had to get in our players facec at the half time talk. I wonder why we didn’t play lime that in the 1st half, and the game would have been put to bed. Maybe it was mental block after the really really bed week but at the end we turn it around pshycologicaly and won the game which is a sign. Let won the bext 5 games befire playing and cut their lead in 4-5 points before we play them. And than only a win woul put us back in track and jepordise them.

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    • On stats Bayern destroyed us 0-2 in that CL group game ! 😃
      We were very poor first half, much better in the 2nd. Deserved the win but we weren’t great.

      Big 3 points.

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  14. I didn’t watch the game. It wasn’t on tv in the states. I watched Jack against Chelsea. He was a problem for Chelsea’s midfielders all game long. He is getting back to his best

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  15. If Giroud is upfront our wide players ought to be putting in some venomous crosses for him to fight for.
    Was a bit worried as we tried to play Giroud the Alexis way.

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  16. As mentioned before, Giroud is not a second choice option.

    He is a different weapon in the Arsenal and we need to use him to his strength.

    Circumstance dictated that this was also a good pick by Wenger as WBA/Pubis were ten men in their box most match.

    We lose nothing of Alexis and his running /energy with Giroud but we gain a focal point, presence and outlet.

    Whether we were sharp enough to profit is another matter. Several times, Giroud laid off wall passes for players but the shots were either (alexis) way off or insipid hit without sufficient conviction.

    Wenger made the right choice to put Lucas and Ramsey into the fray.

    I’m not sure I share some other’s sentiments that Lucas ‘deserves’ a start. He put himself about but had some errant passes. Iwobi did a great job in the first half for me with his awareness and energy. He is also good controlling the ball in tight confines.

    Lucas will get better but at present, I don’t see why he should be ahead of Iwobi, Ox or Walcott. Its who is best suited for the job on hand and showing form if you ask me.

    The other player that played well today was Granit. Some excellent passes from deep and relatively untroubled with Coquelin.

    Ozil got an assist today so I suppose the fanbase will be singing the song again. Better from the German. His off ball work is the issue. When he slouches his shoulder and gives up (in hard games), its when Coquelin and Granit struggle to cope and we lacked and outlet without Giroud against City. Ozil did not help with holding the ball for us where today, he was much better.

    Very vital point won today in the race. It keeps us in the hunt. IT is far from over unless you are a loser who gives up that easily.

    Giroud is an excellent option NOT off the bench but against teams packed deep.

    Some complain about the performance but it doesn’t matter because its the points that count. Prior to their current ‘form’, Chelsea put together a string of one goal wins. We do the same and suddenly some of the usual crowd would have a moan.

    3 points and we need to keep on keeping on.

    😉

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  17. Once more Tony Pulls demonstrates that he is the complete master of ugly football. Of all the managers in the EPL I hate only Mourinho more than Pulis, but one day Mourinho will self-destruct and go elsewhere, and Pulis will still be in England uglifying the beautiful game.

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  18. Hah and Pulis tried to insinuate Giroud fouled on that goal. What a thunder cunt. Think the defender had a handful of his jersey.

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