|MAN OF THE MATCH
West Brom 1-1 Arsenal
The Arsenal bandwagon went to West Bromwich Albion (WBA) yesterday, on the back of a convincing win over Napoli in the Champions League. Even though WBA won at Old Trafford last week, they still started this match as the underdogs. However, as Arsenal’s Premier League winning run comes to a close, WBA more than proved that on their day, they are capable of matching the top flight’s bests.
The strength of the Arsenal midfield is well known. Aaron Ramsey has been impressive in recent months and no one can disregard the magnificent talent of one Mesut Ozil. Steve Clarke knew that for his side to stand a chance, he needed his two defensive midfielders to work their socks off and deny Arsenal the space to manoeuvre. Youssouf Mulumbu had a very good match but the stand-out performer was his midfield partner, Claudio Yacob.
The Argentine was in his element yesterday and he was a constant thorn to Arsenal. His looks like an elegant defensive midfielder and that’s a rare commodity in world football. He doesn’t dive into challenges or be the big bully in the middle like some do. Just like Sergio Busquets of Barcelona, Yacob utilises his game reading capabilities and upper body strength to be in the right place at the right time to wrestle possession away from the Arsenal players.
Yacob won five tackles and managed three successful interceptions during the match last night, all while only conceding a single foul. That’s something really commendable for a defensive midfielder. Jack Wilshere is often seen getting away from his first or two markers easily, with his short burst of pace but could do little with the presence of Yacob in WBA’s midfield.
To cap off his wonderful performance, Yacob also was the one who scored the goal for WBA. He sneaked in unmarked to head home the opening goal of the game. There was a loss of communication between Mikel Arteta and Carl Jenkinson on who to pick Yacob up and the Argentine relished the space given to him.
If he continue to shine this season, Clarke may have to start fending off potential buyers for Yacob.