Bendtner was the star as the Gunners put their goalscoring drought behind them with a win over West Brom and although it was comfortable not quite wasn’t vintage Arsenal.
West Brom 1-3 Arsenal
Such was the inevitability it seemed that Arsenal were going to break their goalscoring drought against West Brom, Wenger looked like he was treating this game as one to boost the confidence of some players. January 28 was the last time the Gunners had scored, Robin Van Persie conjuring up a last minute goal at Everton but Wenger decided to rest the Dutchman who has been involved in all the club’s league goals this year.
In came Bendtner and Eboue, both guilty of missing good chances against Roma while Song was also recalled. Arshavin retained his place in the starting line up, desperate to score his first goal and trying to acclimatise with the pace of the Premier League after stating he had felt as if he had “spat his lungs out” before half time against Fulham.
It only took four minutes for Arsenal to break their goal drought, Nicklas Bendtner skipping past two challenges before firing past Carson with his left foot. It was somewhat reminiscent of Ryan Giggs’s goal last month as he broke down a stubborn West Ham defence scoring with his weaker foot. It was the sort of spontaneity and brilliance that has been missing from the Gunners in recent games. However three minutes later Chris Brunt equalised with a free kick that went through the bottom of the wall. Almunia had every right to be furious at his defence as Arsenal’s new found defensive resilience had been broken for the first time since the game where Arsenal scored their last goal.
Parity was soon restored on both sides as Toure was characteristically of West Brom allowed to run free before heading in. Bendtner made it three as he was also allowed to run behind the defence from Toure’s long ball before shooting past Carson’s left. The scoreline more reflecting West Brom’s lack of quality rather than Arsenal’s brilliance. Sunderland and co may have missed a trick by not deploying two forwards but instead letting Arsenal come at them because the Gunner’s soft underbelly could have been exploited.
The bulk of Arsenal’s attacking play, without Fabregas has come from the front four and as Fulham showed and at times West Brom with more quality, shown Arsenal are not as dominant in the central area. It is not about strength; more about positional play, presence and ability to retain and keep the ball moving. Arsenal were better with Diaby in the centre and Song moving to defence but not quite convincing enough. Wenger is rebuilding again and it was obvious such players on show require more time. Bendtner’s dynamism was much needed as he took on the Baggies defence in almost Henry-esque runs and he hit the post after cutting in and another run saw him teeing up Arshavin for a good opportunity. The Russian still looks somewhat off the pace especially as he played very high up the pitch but was a danger nevertheless while it was encouraging to see Denilson break forward at times in the second half.
Tony Mowbray admitted he likes to read Sun Tzu (Chinese military strategist) but may have been mixed up with the Japanese Kamikaze. For Arsenal however it was a much needed win no matter the opposition and is now all about Kaizen; continuous improvement in order to achieve the last Champions League position and become the force that they have so far promised.
West Brom: Carson, Zuiverloon, Meite, Donk, Robinson, Morrison (Menseguez 72), Greening, Koren, Brunt (Filipe Teixeira 72), Moore, Fortune.
Subs Not Used: Kiely, Hoefkens, Cech, Kim, Borja Valero.
Booked: Koren, Brunt, Meite, Donk.
Goals: Brunt 7.
Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna, Toure (Diaby 46), Djourou, Clichy, Eboue (Ramsey 67), Song Billong, Denilson, Nasri (Merida 83), Bendtner, Arshavin.
Subs Not Used: Fabianski, Van Persie, Vela, Gibbs.
Goals: Bendtner 4, Toure 38, Bendtner 44.
Ref: Steve Tanner (Somerset).
|West Brom||Team Statistics||Arsenal|
|4||Shots on target||7|