Arsenal 2 West Brom 0 - Match analysis and pictures

The list of excuses available to Albion today was extensive. Supporters can only hope that the Baggies reject them all.

Because while Steve Clarke and his players deserved so much better from referee Mike Jones at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, they deserved nothing more than they got from a discouraging afternoon.

And if Clarke and his men are to avoid turning a little local difficulty into something more akin to a genuine slump, they must first acknowledge the fractional drop in standards that has contributed to the first difficult period of the new boss’ impressive debut season.

The pre-Christmas fixtures – starting with Sunday’s Hawthorns game against West Ham – are inviting enough for Clarke and Co to convert their brilliant start to the season into a fabulous position come the dawn of 2013.

But to do so they will need to accept the small but significant failings that culminated in a third successive defeat on a frustrating afternoon in north London.

Albion’s players headed into the capital – after Saturday’s defeat – for a well-deserved Christmas party to celebrate what remains an excellent opening 16 games of the season. And conversation in London’s bars and clubs will have strayed inevitably onto the series of factors that made Saturday’s mission even tougher than it would ordinarily have been.

There was critical absence of Claudio Yacob due to a sore hamstring, compounded by the early loss of Liam Ridgewell to a mystery ankle pain that clearly disrupted Clarke’s defensive plans.

There was the magnificent intensity to Arsenal’s movement without the ball that played havoc with the Baggies’ customary attacking fluency.

There was Mr Jones’ failure to spot a shove on Ridgewell’s replacement, Goran Popov, in the build-up to a crucial second penalty from which Mikel Arteta put the Gunners totally beyond their visitors’ reach. And, most critically and most infuriatingly, there was the shocking dive from Santi Cazorla that brought Arteta’s first-half spot-kick – and the woeful Mr Jones’ willingness to fall for it.

Hopefully, though, before the Hawthorns squad got down to their serious revelry to mark a fabulous campaign so far, they will have reflected on what they need to do to rediscover the form that brought them four successive wins and third place in the table.

There is no cause for alarm and certainly no need for recriminations in the Hawthorns dressing room.

Yet, since they pitched up in Swansea for what would turn out to be the start of a disappointing 11 days, there has been a marginal drop in standards; a subtle but significant loss of ferocity, that has left Clarke’s side unable to match the heights that propelled them to their finest top-flight start in a generation.

It was exploited on Saturday by an Arsenal side who displayed an impressive desire to put right the recent problems that had left manager Arsene Wenger in the spotlight.

While their attacking tempo was a little short of its sublime best and their finishing left plenty to be desire, there was a hunger to close down and pressurise Albion that was almost Barcelona-esque in its intensity.

From the opening moments the Gunners’ midfield trio of Cazorla, Arteta and the magnificent Jack Wilshere were in the faces of the Baggies with James Morrison and Youssouf Mulumbu never given time to lift their heads and instigate Albion attacks.

And, while the nature of the hosts’ winning goals left the Baggies fuming, Wenger’s men had more than enough chances at other times to win the game comfortably while Albion rarely forced home keeper Wojciech Szczesny into action. Gervinho and Cazorla had both gone close with Brunt bending a shot just wide at the other end before Cazorla twisted in the Albion box, saw Steven Reid’s leg and threw himself to the ground despite no contact.

Referee Jones fell for the deception and Arteta placed his spot-kick down the middle.

Wilshere put an excellent chance wide, the impressive Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain hit the crossbar and the hapless Gervinho missed two glorious chances before Oxlade-Chamberlain barged Popov to the ground and drew a foul in the box from Chris Brunt with Arteta converting for a second time from the spot.

It was enough to leave the Baggies fuming. But not enough to mask their own below-par display.

Steve Madeley

 

Comments for: "Arsenal 2 West Brom 0 - Match analysis and pictures"

Royley

Below par, yes we were indeed, poor even. The point about the first penalty decision, however, is that whilst we had hardly created anything, neither had Arsenal really, until that point. The fans were quiet, agitated and starting to turn hostile at stray passes from them. If that had carried on at 0-0, anything could have happened and Arsenal, with the crowd ready to turn, could have fallen short.

That didn't happen, of course because of the ridiculous penalty award, why aren't refs made accountable for these decisions?

The second poor decision was by the by, didn't really matter at that point of the game as Arsenal were well on top anyway, but the first one does leave a bitter taste, more for the fact that is did affect the way he game went after that.

We Only Need One Half!

To be fair to the Ref, from how it happened, you could see how he could be conned for the Cazorla penalty, i.e. where he was standing and the fact Cazorla was between him and Reid, it could create the illusion that Reid made contact, especially after Cazorla had given his Oscar display in going down. It shouldn't happen because he is supposed to be a professional Ref, but, you can see how it could happen.

However, half time, someone must have pointed out to him he had got it badly wrong with Reid, and you would have thought, subliminally at least, he would want to even things up 2nd half.

So, he can have absolutely no excuse for the Oxlade Chamberlain push on Popov (not unlike the free kick that we should have got for Jones assault on Olsson last week prior to Stokes goal), and the blatant handball by Mertsacker.

Only one conclusion can be drawn from those three incidents, Albion were never going to be allowed to get anything in that game with that Ref.

Jack ♣ Hat.

Only read the first bit, our players were discouraging! also dejected, heartbroken, cheated, conned and felt stitched up I'll bet. No need to read the rest.

BOING~~~~BOING~~~~J♣H.

shreks left foot

Typical arsenal really...........i don't think i have seen more rolling around and diving in 1 game than i saw saturday it was disgusting tactics used by arsenal..........!!!

They could not create much and win so they just cheated...............................!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

'The Class of 68'

Outside Looking In

And trying my best not to use the words 'if' or 'but' ..... try it

We did'nt threaten Arsenal, and according to MOTD and radio reports, Albion had nothing to offer as a attacking force. I have to question why when we have

so many talented midfield ball players, we struggle to get to grips with the midfield. The players that determine which team controls the game are of

course the midfield players. I'm sure other managers view our midfield players (Mulumbu,Yacob,Morrison,Dorrens,Gera,Brunt) with envy ..... Keeping the Faith

Yurich

Swansea had an outstanding form, Stokes are scary monsters, Arsens had 12th strongest player, so all hopes to see decent, competitive football next sat, COYB.

Yurich, in Russia.

Yurich

Sunday, sorry.

Miguel

Oh the irony...Arsenal were rolling around the pitch, complaining about fouls blah blah blah, while blaming the second (obvious) penalty on a supposedly missed call you are complaining about. There are at least 10 such calls a game. This became an issue because you fouled in the box right after. And worst of all, totally ignoring the even more blatant dive by your striker in the second half. Until you condemn him, you have no credibility to condemn Cazorla. Your man's was even worse as he just threw himself to the ground; Cazorla was at least avoiding a rash swing of Reid's leg and probably thought he'd be hit before he jumped.

The Arsenal rolling around on the floor line is pure cliche--you can't name a single other instance in this match. I'm not defending Cazorla (worst for me was the leg holding), but when it's Arsenal it's the sign of some grand pattern (all because Arsenal are the most "European" of all the English clubs).

Who's been booked most in the premier league? Gareth Bale! We won't see him deemed a cheat like the treatment Cazorla is getting. Rooney's dived for penalties too many times to count. Is he thought a cheat? You want to complain about diving--start with your man and then start talking about others. The Baggies tried nothing and had nothing going forward. Arsenal were at least pushing the play--that's why you lost, plain and simple.

Royley

Miguel

You make an interesting point, our "man" - Rosenberg is his name, did dive and it was a bad one, but born out of frustration at the awful dive by Cazorla and the handball by Arsenal in their own penalty area, as indeed was most of the ugly feeling around the game after the incident.

Now, I am not saying we deserved anything out of the game, we didn't, and no we didn't push the play, as you said, but neither did Arsenal really until the dive. And, we were the away team, you would expect Arsenal to push the play being the home side.

Fact is - the penalty - incorrectly given - changed the dynamics of the match - Arsenal found their groove and end of story.

The penalty was a major factor in Arsenal wining that game - as before that - they had offered little.

No sour grapes from me, just disappointed. I like Arsenal and Arsene Wenger, the way they play is great to watch, but they are better than that - don't try telling me any Arsenal fans feel proud of Cazorla for the way he dived and then, worse, reacted afterwards.

CantelloRocket 78

Miguel of the mol.-

Just go away.

You've spent at least half an hour of your lifetime writing that rubbish.

Please get a life, wolves have far worse problems than us.

Cyril Randle

I've been missing due to no broadband so I couldn't contribute, but Royley, your posts are excellent. I watched the match in the pub. We saw the Arsenal 'dive' about 20 times. If the FA had any guts whatsoever, Corzola would be suspended for at least 3 matches. The ONLY way diving will be stopped is by video evidence.

Miguel, you cannot seriously be happy with that type of player. Arsenal are a football team I admire and were far the better side OVERALL, but without that 'penalty' what might have happened is wide open to discussion. You cannot, must not, ever support cheating. It's a disgrace. Ref Jones was bad, very bad and should also be accountable, but with some teams they have a lot to put up with.