Sunday, 7 April 2013

Arsenal Cling On To Beat West Brom 2-1

Arsenal went to West Brom on Saturday trying to get their sixth win in seven league games. With the other teams chasing a top four finish not playing until Sunday it was important for them to take advantage of the chance to put pressure on those teams.

Arsene Wenger kept faith in the side which beat Reading so impressively last week and they repaid that faith by taking the three points. Arsenal dominated the game and West Brom offered little in response until the introduction of Romelu Lukaku from the bench. I had hoped he wouldn't play as he's in fine form at the moment.

Soon after Lukaku came on West Brom pulled a goal back from a penalty after Per Mertesacker brought Shane Long down. To make matters worse for Arsenal the big German got a red card too and they had to play the last 20 minutes with 10 players. They defended to the best of their ability and rode their luck as well to hold on for a crucial win.

It had seemed so easy earlier on when Tomas Rosicky scored twice to put Arsenal comfortably ahead. Rosicky has really brought something extra to the team in recent weeks and the boss will have a real selection headache when Jack Wilshere is fit again which should be next week.

Things got even better for Arsenal yesterday when Spurs could only manage a 2-2 draw at home to Everton. A win for either team would have been a bad result for Arsenal, but the draw suits them perfectly. It means Arsenal are only two points behind Spurs with a game in hand and four points ahead of Everton with the same amount of games played.

Arsenal play two home games next week while Spurs don't have a game because Chelsea are playing in the FA Cup. It gives Arsenal an opportunity to put themselves up to four points ahead of their north London rivals. The first of those games is against Norwich and Arsenal will be expected to win, but the game against Everton will be a tough one.

Everton haven't given up all hopes of finishing in the top four themselves, but they will have to beat Arsenal to keep their hopes alive. It should make for a fascinating game and a very tense one too.

Despite all the problems Arsenal have had this season they could in fact move up to second in the table by winning both of those games. It's dependant on Manchester City losing to United tonight, but it's a distinct possibility. If it were to happen Arsenal would only be second on goal difference and probably only for 24 hours until City playWigan the following day.

It would still be great to see the team in such a lofty position and it would certainly put more pressure on both Spurs and Chelsea. When I tweeted that scenario after Saturday's win I got a very good reaction to it. Hopefully in a week's time Arsenal will be getting themselves ready to face Everton with the prospect of moving into second in the league.

Both Wilshere and Theo Walcott should be available again for that game and probably for the Norwich game too. It would leave Arsenal with an almost full strength squad facing into the final seven games which will make or break their season and probably determine their transfer policy in the summer too. The momentum is shifting Arsenal's way and hopefully it can continue to do so.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

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