Monday, 7 October 2013

Arsenal Draw With West Brom To Stay Top of The League

Arsenal played away to West Brom yesterday afternoon knowing they needed a point to go back to the summit of the Premier League. West Brom had a great win away to the champions last week and it was never going to be an easy game for Arsenal. However, Arsenal had won their previous eight away league games and came into the game on the back of a fantastic midweek Champions League display against Napoli.

Arsene Wenger made two changes from that game on Tuesday night as he looked to get his sixth win in a row in the league. Carl Jenkinson came in at right back for the injured Bacary Sagna and Jack Wilshere returned in place of Tomas Rosicky. It meant Arsenal would play with both Mikael Arteta and Mathieu Flamini in midfield protecting the defence.

That tactic had worked very well against Napoli in midweek, but I thought only one of them was needed to do that job against West Brom. With two defensive players in midfield it meant Arsenal had to sacrifice a player from an attacking role. In their previous domestic games only one defensive player was used and I could see no reason why this game was any different.

In the first half it was a fairly even contest with West Brom coming closet to scoring when Wojciech Szczesny did very well to save a deflected shot early on. Before this game Arsenal had scored first in every single game they played this season, but that changed shortly before half time. With West Brom putting some pressure on the Arsenal defence Claudio Yacob rose unchallenged to head a cross home at the near post.

The defending from Arsenal left a lot to be desired for the goal and it was clear they were going to have to improve after the break.It was West Brom who came closest to scoring again early in the second half, but thankfully Nicolas Anelka missed two good chances to increase their lead. Gradually Arsenal started to make chances and grabbed an equaliser through a deflected Jack Wilshere shot after 63 minutes. It was a touch fortunate for Arsenal but the goal came at the end of a good move. 

Wilshere had a real game of two halves with a terrible first half display followed by a much better performance after the break. Besides his goal he played a magnificent pass to set Olivier Giroud up with a good chance, but Boaz Myhill made a very good save in the West Brom goal. He was also very unlucky not to get two penalties as the weekend trend for referees to deny penalties continued.

The first one was a late challenge on him after he had got his shot off and the defender made no contact with the ball. The second one was what the commentator described as a very good tackle, but surely the rules of the game state you cannot tackle from behind. It was hard to tell whether the defender got the man or the ball first, but if he gets both it's still a foul and therefore a penalty.

There was a late claim for a West Brom penalty and typically this was the one highlighted on "Match of the Day 2" last night. If West Brom should have had a penalty then Arsenal definitely should have had two. However, the referee in his infinite wisdom chose to award none of them.

I thought the heavy schedule the Arsenal players have had recently took it's toll and the players looked a little tired. With all of the first choice wide players injured the team lacked width and West Brom worked very hard to deny them space to play in. The team put an awful lot into the game against Napoli and it probably took a lot out of them. 

It's been a great start to the season for Arsenal but the same players have been called upon twice a week every week to perform. It has to be hoped that there will be a few returnees from injury by the time the international break is over in two weeks time. There's a very tough and busy schedule coming up after that break with two games against Borussia Dortmund as well as games against Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United. 

To be fair to West Brom they deserved a point from the game and they worked very hard to get it. They had just as many chances as Arsenal to win the game and will probably feel they had the better of those chances. A point was not a disaster for Arsenal and it meant they returned to the top of the table by virtue of having scored more goals than Liverpool.

There's a long way to go this season but the signs are very encouraging so far for Arsenal. The lack of options yesterday probably played a part in the result from an Arsenal perspective, but those options will probably increase very soon. The prospect of seeing Santi Cazorla and Mesut Ozil in the same team is something to really look forward to for Arsenal fans and it could be less than two weeks away.  It's time to cross our fingers now and hope all of the Arsenal players playing for their countries for the next two weeks come back in one piece. 

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

No comments:

Post a Comment