West Brom secure famous victory despite late Arsenal surge
Arsenal suffered a shock defeat at the hands of West Bromwich Albion this afternoon, losing 3-2 at the Emirates Stadium. The Baggies missed a first half penalty, but this didn’t stop Peter Odemwingie, Gonzalo Jara and Jerome Thomas putting the Gunners to the sword in the second half. Samir Nasri managed to grab two consolation goals, but couldn’t inspire his side to recover.Arsenal were sluggish in the opening stages, this was encapsulated with 10 minutes played as Samir Nasri had the chance to test Scott Carson with a free-kick 20 yards from the West Brom goal. His shot was poor and went straight into the wall, the ball spilled out to the right flank where Bacary Sagna lashed a wayward shot high and wide of the crossbar.
The Gunners began to find their stride a few minutes later with a flowing attacking move down the left. The ball was played into Andrey Arshavin who quickly slipped it inside for Emmanuel Eboue who was on the edge of the penalty. The Ivorian hit the ball first time but his shot was lacklustre and bobbled past the left-hand post.
Minutes later and Arsenal had rattled the woodwork. Eboue drifted into a position wide on the right flank and whipped a cross into the back post area. Arshavin stuck a foot in ahead of his marker and diverted the ball onto Carson’s right-hand post with the ‘keeper scrambling across his line. It came back out to the Russian winger and he stabbed it goalwards but could only find the post again before West Brom managed to smuggle the ball out for a corner.
The hosts came close again with 25 minutes on the clock. Arshavin fed the ball to Nasri who, turning towards goal, saw space open up for a shot. The Frenchman unleashed a right-footed shot from 25 yards and it rippled the side-netting as it zipped just wide of the left-hand post, momentarily deceiving some Arsenal fans into thinking he had broken the deadlock.
West Brom responded with a rasping drive from Odemwingie. The Nigerian took on Abou Diaby in the left-hand side of the Arsenal box before cutting inside onto his left foot and hammering the ball towards Manuel Almunia’s bottom left-hand corner. The Spaniard was equal to the effort, producing a strong save low to his left to deny West Brom an opening goal.
The Baggies had a penalty in the 37th minute after they broke rapidly down the right flank. Odemwingie made a run in behind the Arsenal defence and raced into the penalty area. Almunia charged off his line to meet the striker and Odemwingie poked the ball past just before the two collided to win a clear penalty. Chris Brunt stepped up to take the spot kick and sent it low to Almunia’s right, but the Spaniard managed to get a strong hand to the strike and was up quickly to pounce on the loose ball to prevent Arsenal conceding.
Arsenal nearly opened the scoring in first half stoppage time. Sagna showed fleet footwork before being brought down beside the corner flag on the right. Arshavin took the resulting free-kick and floated it into the near post area where Sagna directed a glancing header towards the Albion goal. Fortunately for Carson it was straight at him, and he managed to tip the ball over the crossbar.
The second half began with West Brom forcing a corner after a slick passage of play from the visitors. James Morrison skipped skilfully past his marker before releasing Jerome Thomas on the left wing but Sagna managed to block his attempted cross and the Baggies wasted the corner.
Sagna couldn’t do anything to stop Thomas as West Brom opened the scoring with their next attack. Nicky Shorey slid the ball to Thomas on the left flank and the Englishman jinked past the French fullback before hitting a low cross into the centre for an unmarked Odemwingie who slotted home neatly into the far corner.
Shell shocked | Arsene Wenger looks on as his side suffer second half capitulation
West Brom weren’t content with a one goal lead and continued to push forward. They were rewarded minutes later with an improbable second goal at the Emirates. Brunt played Jara into space on the right wing with a lovely back-heel pass that caught Alex Song sleeping. Jara drove into the penalty area and hammered the ball goalwards where it bounced off Almunia and into the bottom right-hand corner. It looked like a goalkeeping error from the Spaniard and left Arsenal two goals behind.
Arsene Wenger responded immediately to the setback, hooking Diaby and Eboue and throwing on Tomas Rosicky and Jack Wilshere.
The onslaught from Arsenal was relentless and the crowd were roaring for a penalty as Nasri skipped inside the penalty area and looked to be bundled over as he looked to get a shot off from close range. Referee Michael Oliver waved away protests as West Brom looked to break on the Gunners before an excellent challenge from Sebastien Squillaci put a stop to the counter.
Arsenal’s next attack came down the left flank, with Arshavin sending a teasing ball into the front post area. Marouane Chamakh looked to get onto the end of it and went sliding in as Carson came to collect. The Moroccan made contact with the ‘keeper and was duly booked by the referee for the challenge.
The Gunners came forward again with Song slotting Nasri into the left-hand side of the box before Nasri chipped a cross into the centre. Song charged onto the end of it but couldn’t make full contact with his header and it flicked off an Albion defender and went safely wide of the target.
With 65 minutes played Wenger made his final substitution and it was an aggressive move, bringing off centre-back Laurent Koscielny in favour of Mexican striker Carlos Vela.
Arsenal were stunned when in the 73rd minute West Brom extended their lead further. Thomas played the ball along the edge of the box for Brunt, whose first touch was heavy but took him into the right-hand side of the area. Almunia came rushing off his line but Brunt cleverly cut the ball back inside for Thomas, who lashed the ball into the back of the net.
The Gunners grabbed a lifeline when Nasri scored a sublime individual goal. Having skipped past a couple of players on the edge of the box moments earlier before rattling the crossbar, his weaving run into the West Brom box resulted in a sweeter reward. As he navigated a packed penalty area and smashed the ball into the bottom left-hand corner of the goal: 3-1 to West Brom.
The goal failed to rouse the Gunners and they struggled to create many more attempts on goal. Chamakh mustered a header that Carson saved easily in regular time before Nasri found an opening in additional time. Arshavin slipped the French midfielder into the penalty area and Nasri accepted the invitation, smashing the ball past Carson and into the West Brom goal.
The Gunners had five minutes to save a point and the crowd urged them forward with every passing second. Arsenal were piling forward, throwing the ball into the box at every opportunity. Rosicky had a chance deep into stoppage time but couldn’t convert, sending the ball the crossbar and ensuring West Brom secured their first victory on Arsenal home soil in 27 years.