West Bromwich Albion 1 Arsenal 1
(Yacob, 42 Wilshere 63)

Jack Wilshere struck a stunning second half goal to level what was an absorbing and competitive match at the Hawthorns. It was Wilshere’s second ever Premiership goal, the first one coming just down the road at Villa Park three years ago. Albion had taken the lead just before the break when Claudio Yacob headed in past Wojciech Szczesny who although managing to get his left glove to the effort, was unable to keep the ball out of his net. Despite both sides going for the win, based on the game as a whole, a point apiece seemed to be the best outcome. Arsenal now reclaim top spot in the Premiership.

Arsene Wenger made two changes from the side who clinically despatched Napoli on Tuesday, with Wilshere coming in for Tomas Rosicky and Carl Jenskinson replacing the injured Bacary Sagna who suffered a hamstring injury in the midweek Champions League tie. The home side were buoyed by last weeks win at Old Trafford and Steve Clarke’s side set about stifling the Gunners free flowing play. Yacob and Youssoff Mulumbu in particular did that to good effect, although a determined Arsenal did create some early chances, from which they should have profited.

Mikel Arteta struck from range but his effort caught Olivier Giroud which sent the ball for an Albion goal kick after ten minutes. Aaron Ramsey looked to add to his eight goals in ten games, but his free kick three minutes later flew over Boaz Myhill’s bar.

Mesut Özil is getting to grips with the demands of the physicality of the Premiership, and here he went about his business looking for space and finding that killer pass. He looked to have done just that when he found the advanced Kieran Gibbs, whose first touch was true, but the finish will need to be worked on. Wilshere wasn’t having the best of halfs being asked to play on the left, but still managed to cause a few concerns in the Albion defence with a shot that just went wide after a neat exchange of passed.

Giroud was isolated for much of the game, with the Gunners’ midfield unable to support from deep as much as they’d like, but still his hold up play and technical ability saw the striker limited to just one first half shot of note. Ramsey had the best chance to open the Gunners’ scoring, when he let loose with a thunderbolt which flew through Giroud’s legs but Myhill managed to get down to save.

Having soaked up all that pressure, and as is the way in such matches, Albion took the lead. Morgan Amalfitano crossed after an Albion corner seemed to have been cleared. The Argentine headed downwards on the second cross to beat Szczesny just before the break. It was the first time Arsenal fell behind to the opening goal this season.

Former Gunner Nicolas Anelka then squandered two gilt edged chances to increase Albion’s lead as the home side in contrast to the opening forty five minutes, leapt into more of an attack mode.

Not enjoying events thus far, Wilshere it was felt would be taken off, but having been caught on the knee, it was Ramsey who made way for Rosicky. That proved to be the turning point for Arsenal. Giroud hustled his way forward and fed Rosicky. The Czech Republic midfielder found Wilshere who instinctively let fly with a left foot thunderbolt from 20 yards, which flew past Myhill with a slight deflection off Jonas Olsson.

Billy Sharp forced a fine save from Szczesny and Willshere was denied what looked like a penalty after Mulumbu clattered into the back of him, but Lee Mason showed no interest in the appeal. Arsenal’s bets chance for the win fell to Giroud. He took Wilshere’s precision pass and his momentum took him beyond Myhill, but the Albion ‘keeper did well to recover and force a low save the deny the Gunners.

Arsenal had won all twelve previous away matches, a run going back to the win over Bayern Munich last season. The point here however does see the Gunners reclaim top spot in the Premiership going into the international break.

Wenger although pleased with the point which keeps their unbeaten run going, refused to get drawn into any title talk.

” A mentality of being champions is built up through the season and I believe that we continue to focus on the way we want to play. We have desire, we have the spirit but we are only in October, in March and April you can show that you have the mentality of champions but at the moment it’s early and it’s good to continue our run. I feel it was important not to lose once we were down today and that is the most important thing. For the mental comfort it’s good to remain top after two away games, ” he said.