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West Ham United
8 December 2012
• Emirates Stadium, London
Referee: M. Jones
• Attendance: 60083
Arteta 26', 64'
West Bromwich Albion
Thanks for joining us for the LIVE commentary of Arsenal 2-0 West Brom. Stick with Goal.com for more reaction and player ratings from the game - I'm guessing Baggies fans may want to steer clear of anything football-related for a while though after that abject display. Goodbye for now.
This result will have a calming effect on the Gunners more than anything else. It could have been another banana-skin fixture, but the Baggies' meekness and Mike Jones' generous decisions conspired to make it a relatively easy run-out for the hosts. Bigger challenges lie ahead, but three points is three points at this stage of the season.
That's it! Arsenal get the much-needed points today courtesy of two Mikel Arteta penalties, and rise into sixth place. It's the third straight defeat for West Brom, who remain in fifth. The Gunners deserved it, but both goals came from controversial decisions, and Steve Clarke will not be a happy man.
90' + 2'
We've got two minutes of the four of injury time left to play, and Arsenal are still going for a third. West Brom have simply not been at it today.
What a miss! Podolski has just put in a contender for miss of the season! Wilshere broke through on the left and fed the forward in the area, and the German had so much time and space to shoot, but dallied for too long and somehow scooped the ball over the bar from six yards out. Wow.
Wilshere almost gets the goal his performance has deserved, but after twisting and turning in the area his fierce drive is blocked by Popov. It was good work from the midfielder to fashion the space though.
Big chance for West Brom! A free kick comes into the area from the left and Romelu Lukaku is completely free in the area, but can only glance his header wide from six yards out. Where was the marking?
Rosenberg fires in an effort from 30 yards which Szczesny has to beat away from goal - the keeper has had little to do today, but coped with that relatively well.
Arteta is sloppy here and gives the ball away, but the Baggies cant make anything of the chance with three players up 40 yards from goal - they've looked devoid of any invention this afternoon, and Clarke cuts a frustrated figure on the touchline.
The pace is slowing a little here as West Brom seem consigned to their fate - they've been stunning this season, but truly poor here today, which is disappointing considering it could have been a great game.
It's West Brom's turn to ask for a penalty here as Rosenberg flings himself over in the Arsenal box after being cleanly challenged, but it's definitely not a penalty. The player looks embarrassed to tell the truth, with a sheepish grin on his face, but it's still not a good thing to see.
Yellow Card Steven Reid
Arteta shoots from a 30-yard free kick, but it's a yard wide of Myhill's right-hand post. The Spaniard wants a hat-trick, but he'll have to wait.
Myhill dives low to punch out an Oxlade-Chamberlain cross four yards out to prevent a third Arsenal goal - it's been all Arsenal in this half, which will surely disappoint Steve Clarke, who has seen his side play much better than this.
Arsenal are cutting through West Brom at will here, and Mulumbu can only chop at Wilshere's heels as he breaks away. The England midfielder has been in fine form today, and that will be a huge relief to both Wenger and Roy Hodgson.
Another fine Arsenal move as Wilshere and Oxlade-Chamberlain combine to nearly set up Giroud for the third, but he can't quite apply the finishing touch from six yards. They've been much sharper today in the final third.
The jeers have turned to cheers for Boaz Myhill, as the Arsenal fans are delighted to see him racing to take a goal kick after being a little lazy to take them in the first half.
Yellow Card Per Mertesacker
Referee Mike Jones is not covering himself in glory today - and Steve Clarke may well have something to say about it after the game. His side deserve to be behind, but both goals were a big stroke of luck for Arsenal in terms of the decisions.
Penalty Goal Mikel Arteta
GOAL!!! Arsenal are two up as Arteta strokes in his second penalty of the game, and it's straight down the centre - but the real talking point was Oxlade-Chamberlain's clear push on Popov to win the ball back. The Baggies defence almost stopped playing, and while it was a clear spot kick as Brunt slid in, it's another decision which has gone against them today.
PENALTY TO ARSENAL!!! More controversy as Oxlade-Chamberlain pushes Popov over before bursting into the box and drawing the spot kick. Well well well...
Massive chance wasted by Gervinho! He's through on goal with the ball bouncing six yards out, and it should be 2-0 to Arsenal, but he completely misses the ball and Myhill gratefully collects it. Embarrassing miss from the striker, but just how many more chances can the Gunners miss before they are punished?
Gervinho makes the space to shoot but his shot is deflected - Oxlade-Chamberlain picks the ball up on the wing, and proceeds to take one of the worst crosses in Premier League history. You could have been forgiven for thinking that was a satellite launch.
Yellow Card Chris Brunt
Szczesny comes for the corner and can't quite get there, and the ball flies out for a goal kick - not the most confident keeping there. Brunt thinks it should be a corner, and gets a booking for one complaint too many.
Now it's Long's turn to get feisty, and he gets a talking-to from Jones - this game is really starting to pick up, which is no bad thing. Vermaelen slides in brilliantly to stop Long on the wing now, and the away side are beginning to press.
Yellow Card Olivier Giroud
Yellow Card Jonas Olsson
Madness in the West Brom box here - Wilshere finds Oxlade-Chamberlian at the back post with a cross, and the winger tries a lovely side-footed volley back across, but can't find the net. Giroud tries to bulldoze through on goal but is offside, and in the ensuing melee, both he and Olsson are shown a yellow card.
Cazorla tries to trick his way through the West Brom defence, and is surely fouled on the edge of the area, but no free kick is given - is there a chance Mike Jones found time to see a replay of the penalty at half time perhaps?
Mertesacker slides in and wins the ball on the wing, but the referee still whistles for a foul - the German throws himself to the floor and clutches his head in his hands like he's in a Shakespearean tragedy, but the free kick comes to nothing. Calm down Per!
The Baggies are playing a risky game trying to play the ball out of defence here - it would normally be fine, but they're losing the ball every single time they do it. They've been so, so poor in possession.
West Brom have a free kick in a decent position from 40 yards out on the right - Brunt whips in a decent cross which McAuley meets, but can only head wide. That's better from the away side - well, it has to be better than the first 45 minutes.
We're back underway at the Emirates, and while Wenger would probably take a 1-0 victory right now, there's plenty of football left to be played - providing West Brom remember what they're actually here to do today.
It's Arsenal 1-0 West Brom at the Emirates, and at the moment the Gunners are going sixth in the Premier League. They've definitely been the better side, but Steve Clarke's men have offered little to nothing going forward - surely that will change in the second 45 minutes?
45' + 1'
Popov smashes a pass across the field, shanking it away from any team mates - that's been the story of West Brom's half. And that's the whistle!
Chamberlain goes for a bicycle kick as the ball falls to him 10 yards out, but he volleys over. It did look rather spectacular though. The game hasn't truly got going yet, and while they will feel aggrieved at the penalty decision, West Brom have been truly terrible.
We'll have two minutes of injury time, and Arsenal's only disappointment will be not to go in to the break further ahead - but they're lining up a corner here...
Good save by Myhill! Chamberlain scuffed a shot towards goal which Gervinho actually blocked, and the striker controlled and turned before trying to find the bottom-right corner of the net - but the keeper got down well to save low, with the rebound cleared for a corner.
Per Mertesacker handles the ball in the Arsenal area, and the West Brom players want a penalty - but the referee gives the decision the other way as Jonas Olsson was pulling the German defender. Good call.
Massive chance for Arsenal! Jack Wilshere arrives in the six yard box to meet a Gervinho cross, but can't get enough on the ball and it slides agonisingly wide for the midfielder. That could be a key point in this game is West Brom actually start playing football today.
Arsenal are just playing the ball around at the back here, and there's very little in the way of pressing from West Brom - perhaps Clarke will simply want to get his side into half time with the score the same and look to change things around from there.
Giroud is down injured here clutching his back - the big striker should be fit enough to continue here, but Podolski is warming up as a precaution. The last thing Wenger will need is an injury to another forward.
Have West Brom got what it takes to get back into this one? They've looked very flat so far, but they've shown they can compete with the best in the league time and time again this season.
Looking back on it, Cazorla turned away from Steven Reid in the area, and while the defender left his leg out, there was definitely no contact. The Spaniard is really lucky his team are a goal up instead of him being booked, and Steve Clarke will be fuming.
Penalty Goal Mikel Arteta
GOAL!!! Mikel Arteta steps up, and it's Arsenal 1-0 West Brom. The Spanish midfielder stepped up calmly and placed the ball down the centre as Myhill dived to his right. Good penalty - but replays show it was a definite dive from Cazorla.
PENALTY TO ARSENAL! West Brom are furious as Cazorla goes down very, very easily...
Brunt almost scores for West Brom! The ball falls to him on the left of the Arsenal area and he curls a vicious strike towards the top-left corner of Szczesny's net, but it's a yard over. Great effort there - that really would've been a special goal.
Gervinho is almost through but he just can't reach Cazorla's fine ball through the defence - they'll have to get closer to the Spaniard here.
Another good move from the home side as Cazorla threads Oxlade-Chamberlain through in the area, but the youngster is flagged offside as he looks to pull the ball back for Giroud. There's a crispness to Arsenal's play that has been missing of late.
Vermaelen spreads the play to...nobody in particular, and West Brom retain possession much to the home fans' annoyance. It's passes like that which will increase the pressure on the players, and frustrate the fans - perfect for West Brom, who are struggling a bit at the moment.
A lovely move from Arsenal here as Oxlade-Chamberlain races down the right to chase down a through ball, and gets a good volleyed cross into the box, which Cazorla can only thrash over and wide from 16 yards. Much better play from the Gunners than we've seen recently.
Cazorla whips in a fantastic free kick from the right wing but nobody in an Arsenal shirt can meet it - a few more deliveries like that and it should only be a matter of time before they break through.
Arsenal have started this one well, but Shane Long is putting a lot of pressure on their back line - they cant afford any slip-ups against a player like him, but recent form suggests they'll have their work cut out.
Cazorla tries to bend in an effort from around 20/25 yards out, but he can't get his right boot around the ball enough and it goes high and wide. The Spaniard was in a great position though, and if West Brom give him that type of space, he will punish them.
The home fans think Boaz Myhill is wasting time for the visitors from a goal kick here - if that really is the case, it could be a long game, but they're just a bit frustrated methinks.
Arsenal are pressing well and playing the ball around nicely, but can't find a breakthrough - but they'll need to be wary of West Brom on the counter, and the away side look very comfortable breaking away at speed.
Bad news for West Brom as Liam Ridgewell injured himself sliding into the post trying to block Gervinho's shot, and his match is over - he's replaced by Popov. Ridgewell looks devastated, especially as the attempted block was an unnecessary one.
Arsenal win the first corner of the game...and it's nearly a goal! Cazorla's corner is only half-cleared, and the ball was headed back into the area - Giroud challenged Myhill in the air, and the ball fell to Gervinho 10 yards out, but he could only volley disappointingly wide. Poor effort with the goal gaping.
Shane Long is sent through with a long ball but Wojciech Szczesny is quickly off his line to avert the danger and passes it calmly out - it'll be interesting to see how the Arsenal back line deal with the striker today, but they'll have to do better than that.
We're off here at the Emirates - what a big day this could be for Wenger and his men. Another defeat in a similar fashion to that against Swansea and things could start to get difficult for the manager, but the fans sound ready for this one - can they spur their team on in this difficult time?
The teams are walking out of the tunnel here, and it looks pretty chilly today. West Brom's players have their tracksuit tops on - I wonder if they'll try and play in them instead?
Just four wins in their last 13 games have left Gunners fans furious, and the pressure is mounting on Wenger and the squad to find answers - will the Frenchman have to spend in January to make sure they have a chance of qualifying for the Champions League? Or will West Brom steal in and take one of the hallowed positions?
If results go their way today, Arsenal could be sitting pretty in sixth place by the end of play today - but a defeat could potentially leave them in 12th if Norwich and Liverpool pick up wins this weekend, which doesn't really bear thinking about for Arsene Wenger. West Brom meanwhile could end up in third place tonight, which would be a truly stunning achievement for Clarke and his side.
Steve Clarke has made four changes to the team that disappointingly lost 1-0 to Stoke at the Hawthorns, with Liam Ridgwell, James Morrison, Chris Brunt and Peter Odemwingie coming into the team. Despite that defeat, Clarke will surely fancy his chances here against an Arsenal side lacking in confidence.
So the main news for the home side is that Theo Walcott misses out through injury, with Gervinho given a starting place by Arsene Wenger. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also starts for the Gunners, with Lukas Podolski having to settle for a place on the bench.
West Brom: Myhill; Reid, Olsson, McAuley, Ridgewell; Mulumbu, Morrison; Gera, Brunt, Odemwingie; Long. Subs: Popov, Rosenberg, Dorrans, Daniels, Lukaku, Tamas, Fortune.
The team news is in... Arsenal: Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Arteta, Wilshere; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Cazorla, Gervinho; Giroud. Subs: Martinez, Jenkinson, Squillaci, Coquelin, Ramsey, Rosicky, Podolski.
Good afternoon and welcome to the Goal.com LIVE commentary of Arsenal - West Brom at the Emirates. It's a little odd to see Arsene Wenger's side staring longingly up the table at Steve Clarke's high-flyers in December, but Albion fully deserve to be in fifth position. It's a big day for the Gunners, who are stuck in 10th place, and need to do something about it quickly.
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