Arsenal 1 West Brom 0: Boxing Day relief

A headed brace towards the end of regulation time from Olivier Giroud sealed maximum points for Arsenal as they went above Manchester City, (but at the time of typing this, Arsenal have since gone back to fourth spot following Manchester City’s win over Hull City).

The first half saw the home side create plenty of chances created, but with neither hitting the target.

The second half also came with chances, with the best coming from Alexis Sanchez when he saw his effort from close range hit the post.
West Brom had chances of their own, but none of their chances really came of anything especially when Claudio Yacob’s effort went skywards.

Tony Pulis’ side had Ben Foster to thank as he made a number of saves to prevent his side from conceding any more goals. You could say he was their man of the match.

Before Arsenal struck late on, they had 80% possession but struggled to squeeze past Ben Foster who had the personality of Manuel Neuer. (Perhaps he was warming Arsenal up for February’s Champions League clash).

Following the game, Foster said that this was difficult to take as the West Midlands side had also been undone by a late goal in their last away match against Chelsea. He went on to say that to lose with not long to go was horrible as he kept his side at bay for most of the match.

Having made 10 saves and being on the losing side must be disheartening, but that’s the way football goes sometimes. I’m pretty sure he’ll pick himself up after and be ready to go again.

Alexis Sanchez was the main threat as he looked to guide his side to maximum points, but was frustrated time and time again.
The Gunners did eventually score late on when Mesut Ozil found Giroud who headed past Foster to score his first goal of the season as a starter.

After the “ugly” win, Giroud spoke about pushing to the end and believing in their game. He also spoke about having a strong mentality and having mental strength. From those words, you could tell that Arsenal winning wasn’t big but was huge as they stake a claim in the title race. (If only they hadn’t lost to Everton and Manchester City. But hey, Arsenal have no divine right to expect to beat teams).

Overall, this win was VERY important as a loss, or a draw would’ve further hampered Arsenal’s title chances.

I feel that West Brom came looking for a draw, and ultimately paid the price for doing so. They did have a few chances, but not enough to win the game.

I would single out Foster for Man of the Match, and exclude him from criticism as he played his part by having an extraordinary performance.

Although Giroud scored the winner, I would pick Sanchez as Arsenal’s Man of the Match as he worked the hardest (not saying the others didn’t) to attempt to win the game for his side.

Up next for Arsenal is a home clash against Sam Allardyce’s Crystal Palace side, whilst West Brom travel south to play Southampton a day before.



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