It wasn’t quite the performance Arsenal fans would have wanted at home against West Brom but the Gunners got what they required in the end, securing all three points and a narrow 1-0 win to get back to winning ways.
After consecutive defeats against Everton and Manchester City, which saw the Gunners slip to nine points behind leaders Chelsea, a win here today was vital to appease the supporters which have grown increasing frustrated with Arsenal’s performances in recent years.
Whilst there’s still a lot of work to do, Arsenal could only beat the opposition in front of them and, whilst the performance left a lot to be desired, the win puts Arsenal six points ahead of Tottenham Hotspur, as things stand, putting the North London outfit in control of their own destiny.
Here’s five things we learned from Arsenal’s hard-fought victory!
Playing second-fiddle this season to an Alexis Sanchez who has found his feet in a central role at the Emirates Stadium, Olivier Giroud provides something different for Arsenal and can be vital in the months ahead- although Arsenal need to get back to his style of play.
A frustrating game for Gooners saw the Gunners struggle to get the ball into the box and take advantage of Giroud’s aerial prowess, although in the end the right thing came about as Mesut Ozil floated a ball in for Giroud to knock home.
With three points in the bag, Arsenal can be happy with the result but the performance that went along with it left a lot to be desired. The Gunners struggled to break down an organised defence and need to work on all aspects of their game if they are to be contenders in any competition this season.
Their back-line still looked vulnerable at times and their attack was a long way off full cohesion, lacking the sort of performance required to impress their vast critics.
Sat ninth in the table, West Brom look to be a much better side this season and have chances of reaching European football if things go their way. Tony Pulis may be criticised by many but he’s led the Baggies valiantly and sitting a comfortable nine points above the drop-zone.
Previously, West Brom have been a yoyo club in the Premier League, enduring a lot of promotions and relegations, before being regulars in the bottom half of the table. Now though, the Midlands-based side have a chance to build upon something better.
Once again, there was a huge Santi Cazorla shaped hole in the Arsenal midfield and the Gunners will have to overcome this issue sooner rather than later. The Spaniard still faces time sidelined through injury, whilst the fact he’s well into the final year of his contract shows Arsenal need to lessen their reliance upon the veteran for the long-term too.
With Granit Xhaka, Francis Coquelin, Aaron Ramsey, Mohamed Elneny and Aaron Ramsey in their ranks, as well as Jack Wilshere on-loan at Bournemouth, Arsenal should have the right sort of player in their squad and it’s just a case of finding who can be the key-man going forward.
Arsenal’s clash with West Brom today was the ideal dress rehearsal for the Gunners final match of 2016, as they host Crystal Palace later this week. Under Sam Allardyce, Palace will likely adopt a similar defensive approach to the match and Arsenal need to prepare to break down that set-up.
Giroud is certainly a key-part to overcoming the Eagles, if Arsenal can get the ball into the box more regularly, but Arsene Wenger needs to ensure his side work on this aspect of their game in training.