Arsenal: Cech, Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal, Bellerin, Xhaka, Elneny, Kolasinac, Ramsey, Alexis, Lacazette
Subs: Ospina, Mertesacker, Ozil, Wilshere, Maitland-Niles, Walcott, Giroud
Two goals from Alexandre Lacazette gave Arsenal a 2-0 win over West Brom at the Emirates this evening, but they had some scary moments to survive, particularly in the first half.
Alexis Sanchez got his first Premier League start of the season but Mesut Ozil, returning from injury, had to be content with a place on the bench.
The Chilean had the first shot in anger, curling a free kick inches wide in the 5th minute, while there was a fantastic chance for West Brom just minutes later.
Jay Rodriguez got into the Arsenal area and pulled the ball back. Shkodran Mustafi, as he does, went to ground and took the striker’s legs from underneath him. Referee Bobby Madley played on, Rodriguez took a shot which Cech touched onto the post, it rebounded into the area, and another West Brom player put it wide. It was a big, big let off.
A nice Arsenal move from left to right saw Bellerin clip a cross on the volley back towards Aaron Ramsey who headed just over. The returning Kieran Gibbs fizzed a shot not far wide, and in possession Arsenal struggled to find space against a well organised opposition.
It took a set-piece to break the deadlock. Elneny was fouled on the edge of their box, again Alexis took the free kick and almost scored himself as the ball crashed back off the crossbar. Alexandre Lacazette had followed in though, and had the simple task of heading home from inside the six yard box to make it 1-0.
Nacho Monreal almost found a way through but just couldn’t get the ball under control to get a shot away, and replays showed he’d been pulled back by Nyom. A brilliant run by Ramsey was found by Alexis, but he couldn’t find a cross to match it, and there was a shout for a penalty when the Chilean had his shirt pulled in the box but again the referee showed no inclination to penalise any penalty box indiscretions.
Another Sanchez free kick whistled just wide in the 36th minute, but sloppy play in midfield saw West Brom fashion a great chance just afterwards. Rodriguez thought he’d leveled things up with a close-range header that beat Cech, but an incredible Monreal clearance off the line prevented the goal.
Rodriguez pulled a shot wide, before Robson-Kanu flicked a header just beyond Cech’s far post, and Arsenal were less than comfortable – their sloppiness almost costing them on a number of occasions.
Alexis picked up a yellow card, seemingly for dissent, as West Brom added some pressure late in the first period, and following a corner they almost scored again, once more Rodriguez was the man who couldn’t apply the finish.
The Gunners took the one goal lead into the break, and an early second half cross from Bellerin caused some panic in the West Brom aread but ultimately came to nothing. Dawson was booked for a foul on Sanchez, and great work from Kolasinac and Elneny created a good chance for Lacazette but his goal-bound shot was deflected over the bar by Gibbs.
Mustafi flicked a corner into hands of Ben Foster, Krychowiak was the next man in the book for a foul on Elneny, and a nice turn from Alexis saw him cross for Ramsey but the danger was snuffed out.
Nice interplay and one touch passing between Ramsey, Elneny and Bellerin saw the Spaniard find some space but his cross was blocked. From the resulting period of play though, Ramsey burst into the box and was barged over by Nyom. This time the referee had no compunction about pointing to the spot, and Lacazette stepped up and coolly slotted home to double the lead. 2-0.
It was almost a hat-trick a couple of minutes later when the French international took down a beautiful Alexis pass, rounded the keeper but blasted over the bar. The two goal cushion emboldened Xhaka to have a pop from distance but he fired wide, and Dawson was lucky to escape a second yellow when he slid on Alexis from behind.
Bellerin cracked a shot from just inside the area, but saw it deflected just over the bar, before Arsene Wenger made his first changes of the night, bringing on Olivier Giroud for two-goal hero Lacazette and Mesut Ozil for Alexis in the 82nd minute.
Xhaka should have added some gloss to the scoreline but side-footed over the bar from 12 years, Giroud and Ozil almost combined to set the German through on goal, and Ramsey took a pop after being sent through by Giroud although the Frenchman was waiting in the middle for the pass which would notch him his 100th Arsenal goal.
In the end, Arsenal were worth the win, although they rode their luck in a first half that could have proved far more costly.