This was a match that neither team could afford to lose as they both looked to bounce back from recent defeats. West Brom started the game with a point to prove. Allan Nyom drove past four Arsenal players but was unable to find any of his team-mates in the box. West Brom eventually broke the deadlock after 12 minutes. James McClean’s shot was parried away by Petr Cech and Craig Dawson headed in from Nacer Chadli’s resulting corner.
There was just as much action in the sky as on the pitch. Two banners, one against Arsene Wenger and one in support of Arsene Wenger flew over The Hawthorns in quick succession as Arsenal fans made their voices heard.
Arsenal made sure West Brom’s lead didn’t last very long as they equalised just three minutes later. Alexis Sanchez scored his 18th Premier League goal of the season after he latched onto a fantastic pass from Granit Xhaka.
Petr Cech produced a brilliant save to force Darren Fletcher’s volley behind for another West Brom corner. Unfortunately that was Cech’s last action of the game after he went down with a suspected calf injury. David Ospina replaced him for a rare Premier League appearance.
The score was 1-1 at half-time and despite Arsenal having the most possession, West Brom were the more dominant side.
Salomon Rondon should have restored West Brom’s lead early in the second half after Chris Brunt’s cross but his header was narrowly wide. Rondon was substituted minutes later and replaced by Hal Robson-Kanu who made an immediate impact. Ospina got himself into all kinds of trouble when he failed to collect Chadli’s ball. As he tried to slide it clear, the ball fell to Robson-Kanu who, just 75 seconds after coming on, simply tapped the ball in to put West Brom back in front.
Arsenal’s only chance to equalise came from a Danny Welbeck header but it crashed off the crossbar. The Gunners were lucky not to be even further behind when Robson-Kanu’s chipped shot was saved by Ospina. Chadli was first to the follow up, but his effort was blocked. Brunt then fired over from distance.
Theo Walcott who had made barely any impact on the game was substituted for Olivier Giroud in the 65th minute.
Claudio Yacob replaced Chris Brunt for the Baggies in the 72nd minute. Just 16 minutes remained when West Brom put the game to bed once and for all. Arsenal’s defence went missing again as Craig Dawson headed in from a corner for the second time in the match. From an Arsenal perspective, this one was even worse. Dawson was completely free to head home after the majority of Arsenal players chose to mark Gareth McAuley. Defending is clearly not highly on Arsenal’s list of priorities in training. Three minutes after West Brom’s third goal, Alexis Sanchez was replaced by Alex Iwobi.
After they were 3-1 up, West Brom saw the game out. They made their final substitution in the 89th minute as Chadli made way for Sam Field. Both teams needed the win but West Brom fought for it. The Baggies and manager Tony Pulis will be delighted with the result and rightly so. As for Arsenal, finishing in the top four is becoming an uphill battle that they may not overcome. Three points from their last five Premier League games is beyond a joke.