Arsenal’s Champions League tie with Belgrade was on the back of everyone’s minds with a decent lineup taking their place at the Emirates. A win today would put us a point within Chelsea, who had lost at Eastlands to Manchester City earlier today, inflicting their first loss of the campaign. Almunia, Sagna, Koscielny, Squillaci, Clichy, Song, Diaby, Nasri, Eboue, Chamakh, and Arshavin took the pitch, the lineup seemingly without Arsenal’s creativity, and didn’t show what we really could offer.
Arsenal started off a bit shaky at the back, with West Brom throwing what they could do at Arsenal, including a close cross in the 4th minute sneaking past Sagna’s guard. However Arsenal after that began to take control of the attack and the defense, racking up the possession count but not the shots on target, and were eradicating the Baggies’ attacks before they began.
Arsenal, through Arshavin, hit the post twice at the 13th minute, scaring the visitors, and a flurry of chances came through after that, the last of those coming from Chamakh whose aerial ability showed again with a close header. Nasri tried a long range shot brushing past the post minutes later, but then after West Brom began to take control, taking advantage of Arsenal’s defensive mistakes forcing a good save from Almunia. The momentum then swayed with whoever was camped down the other end, be it Arsenal or West Brom, with Nasri trying a would be stunning left foot volley but then the visitors grabbed a penalty in the 37th minute. Brunt’s left footed shot was saved by Almunia, with another penalty save, and then it was all Arsenal, but still unable to find a goal before the half ended.
After the half time break, the world fell apart for Arsenal. They weren’t at their best, and it showed. Some rubbish defending and nice skill from the Baggies set up Odemwingie who managed a tap into the net. Two minutes later what was left of the defense was blown to pieces, a neat backheel setting up Jara, powering past a shot that Almunia should have saved, with Gooners everywhere wondering why we didn’t sign a new keeper.
Arsenal then rallied, with attack after attack coming, but West Bromwich had luck on their side today, and with a swift break grabbed another one on the 73rd minute through Thomas, with Almunia striding off his line too early and giving the visitors a simple tap in. The defense was non-existent, beaten by a bunch of players only playing in the Championship last season. Arsenal 0 WBA 3, with another seemingly 15 minutes of hell to come.
But not if Nasri could help it, bagging one for himself in the 75th minute, which made Arsenal attack even more, and setting hearts alight every time we got a sniff of goal. We were now camped in West Brom’s half now, with a goal opportunity coming every minute or so, but the visitors wanted to keep their lead which saw the game head into injury time 3-1 to the Baggies.
Nasri once again didn’t disappoint, faking a shot with his right and blasting away with his left on the 90th minute, making it 3-2 with 5 minutes added on, which meant that Arsenal kept attacking all the more.
Chance after chance passed us by, until through an act of desperation West Brom blasted it down our end, only for Sagna to clear it back up, then the game was done.
West Brom triumphing against Arsenal, 3-2, more by luck than judgement for them, as Arsenal really had a game to forget, which proves that if you keep your guard down against any club for a minute they can come to get you, and that they did.
The shots to shots on target ratio no cause for comfort, and the possession meter wasn’t either showing that a ton of the ball doesn’t do any good unless you score.
A very disappointing loss today, hoping to put that behind us as we travel to Belgrade for or next Champions League fixture.
Written by Gunner Down Under @ Goonersworld Forum