A relatively routine 2-0 win on paper – in fact, the seventh time in twelve attempts West Brom have failed to score on Arsenal’s patch in the Premier League – it’s easy to forget the Gunners were put under pressure by the visitors last night, particularly in the first half.
Indeed, Tony Pulis’ counter-attacking game-plan successfully took effect in the early stages of the 8pm kickoff and it was the Baggies who came closest to scoring first as Jay Rodriguez shook off a Shkodran Mustafi foul to hit the woodwork.
Arsenal’s backline had to dig deep to avoid an upset and no defender encapsulated the more disciplined side to the Gunners’ game better than Nacho Monreal, who made a crucial goal-line clearance in the first half to stop West Brom drawing level after Alexandre Lacazette’s rebound had put the home outfit ahead.
The 20-cap Spaniard has often drawn criticism during his time at the Emirates Stadium but he was exceptional last night; in addition to the last-ditch clearance, he also ranked first for tackles and interceptions throughout the Arsenal side, while recording the highest pass completion rate of any starter.
If Arsenal are to recover from their disappointing start to the season and avoid some of the mistakes we’ve seen from them over the last few years, particularly surrendering soft goals on the counter-attack, it’s vital experienced players like Monreal maintain that level of form over the coming months.