West Bromwich Albion 1 Arsenal 2

Tomas Rosicky has never been known for his goal scoring prowess, but his priceless double strike with a goal in either half at the Hawthorns saw ten man Arsenal overcome a dogged West Bromwich Albion. Given their early domination, the Gunners should have been out of sight by the break. However, 2-0 down soon after the re-start, Albion netted from the spot when Per Mertersacker’s foul on Shane Long saw the German receive a straight red card. James Morrison netted the penalty, and the home crowd suddenly awoke from their earlier slumber. An inspired Albion now roared on, ensured that the Gunners defensive capabilities were to be severely tested. A test that they passed, and with Olivier Giroud’s late effort whistling past the post may have even netted a third goal.

We showed two aspects to our game in win at Hawthorns says Wenger

 

Arsene Wenger had not spoken to the media at the club’s usual pre-match press conference, and here it wasn’t difficult see why. By the end of the game however, his voice had deteriorated even further, but the three points will have been just the tonic for him and his side’s Champions League aspirations.

” It was a difficult game against a good West Brom side who was really up for it. They did fight until the last second and we have shown two aspects of our game today, one that was very in control and with technical quality, and one that is less known, the fighting spirit, the resolute attitude and battling qualities that reflect well the spirit we have in our side. I’m very pleased be because it was three big points for us today, ” he said.

After an opening of some sublime football from Arsenal, the opening goal was duly delivered. Rosicky has endured another frustrating season at the the Emirates, but the Czech has the quality to influence games, as he did early on here. Having earlier cleared off the line from Claudio Yacob, Rosicky met Gervinho’s cross from the left, his header powering past Ben Foster for his first Premiership goal in 65 games.

In perhaps the move of the half, Aaron Ramsey should have doubled the Gunners’ advantage just on the half hour mark. Santi Cazorla combined with Olivier Giroud, and his deft back heel fell into Ramsey’s path but agonisingly for the Welshman his shot went just wide of Foster’s upright.

Albion manager Steve Clarke looked on in frustration at his sides’ lack of creativity, but would later decry his luck in what he felt was a good penalty shout for a foul on Yacob from Laurent Koscielny’s challenge.

Ten minutes after the break, Clarke’s and Albion’s woes were compounded, and it was Rosicky who would start and finish the move with the goal. The 32 year old Czech fed Cazorla. Ramsey raced onto Cazorla’s pass and found the advanced Rosicky. The Arsenal number seven controlled with one touch and powered a shot that Foster couldn’t hold. Instinctively, Rosicky was alert to the follow up and duly rifled past Foster, as the Gunners went two goals to the good.

Arsenal had threatened earlier, when Bacary Sagna’s interception allowed Cazorla to flick to Gervinho. The Ivorian powered forward to slip the ball to the advanced Sagna, only for Foster to come out to save with his legs, the ball deflecting for a corner.

Reduced to ten men and with their advantage halved after Morrison’s penalty, Arsenal were being asked more questions of the defensive variety. With Metersacker’s sending off, and it seems rare touchline unity, Steve Bould and Wenger were screaming at Howard Webb to be allowed to bring on Thomas Vermaelen sooner to reshape their defence, something that the Yorkshire official seemed oblivious to, and puzzling for Wenger.

” There was many things that I didn’t understand today I must tell you, many decisions but we have to take that on the chin and win the game. We couldn’t bring him on, I don’t know why.”

Having reduced the deficit the home side played with more of a threat and sensed the Gunners’ edgy nervousness. In an effort to shore up their defence, Wenger took off Ramsey for Kieran Gibbs who was now tasked with a left midfield brief. No surprises that Lukaku was now the new threat. Armed with the ammunition of Liam Ridgwell’s left sided cross, Albion sensed a leveller, their second half performance merited.

With five minutes of time added on, after Lukaku curled wide, Long had Albion’s best chance, but blasted over Fabianki’s bar, as the Gunners held firm.

Wenger described Rosicky’s afternoon’s work as ” fantastic,” and with reports linking the 32 year old with a move away from north London, announced that he wanted his midfielder to finish his career with the Gunners. The Arsenal manager was also pleased to see Vermaelen back at the hear of the defence, albeit in circumstances that were forced on him.

” He did very well when he came on, ” said Wenger of Vermaelen’s first club action since being dropped after the north London derby in early March. ” I have three quality centre backs and I rotate. In recent times I played only Koscielny and Mertersacker because we won the games and there was no obvious reason the change, but Thomas is a quality player.”

Wenger revealed that Arsenal could be reinforced with the return of both Jack Wilshire and Theo Walcott when Norwich come to the Emirates next week. The focus is for Arsenal to continue their own momentum until the end of th season.

“We now we have one target – to win our games. Then we do not have to look at Tottenham or at Chelsea. If we lose our games, you have always to look at the results of the others. That doesn’t work in our job. You have to focus on you, and you win the games. Because we are behind them, our attitude is simple. We have to win the games.”