Arsenal shatter scoreless record at West Brom

Thank goodness for that. Arsenal’s scoreless run in the Premier League is finally over, broken in yesterday’s 3-1 win over West Brom.

Nicklas Bendtner was the hero on the night, bagging two goals – and very nearly a third – on the night while Kolo Toure also chipped in, nodding a header in from a splendid Andrey Arshavin cross. All three goals as well as West Brom’s came in the first half as our boys wasted four clear opportunities to extend the lead in an extremely dominant performance.

Arsene Wenger threw up a number of surprises in the team selection. I had expected Arshavin to be rested after playing an hour against Fulham, but the manager chose to start the Russian up front with Nicklas Bendtner, meaning Robin van Persie was dropped to the bench. Also dropped was Abou Diaby and Carlos Vela for Alex Song and Emmanuel Eboue respectively, while Johan Djourou stepped in for the injured William Gallas.

The starting team may have been a surprise but it was even more of a surprise to see Arsenal score so early. Indeed, it took just four minutes. Samir Nasri’s poorly struck corner fell to Denilson who fed Bendtner and the Dane broke our four-game scoreless run with a smart, left-footed finish. He didn’t strike the ball particularly well, Bendtner, but the accuracy of the shot meant it snuck past Scott Carson in the West Brom goal.

The sense of relief I felt when the ball went in was immense. My idea to get The Otter up early to watch the game early had broken The Curse of Morgana Clarke and we were well on our way. But almost as soon as we scored our first goal in four games, we went and conceded.

Djourou conceded a free kick 25 yards and from a seemingly innocuous situation, West Brom’s Chris Brunt fired home a low effort. On first viewing I believed Manuel Almunia to be at fault but the replays showed it was none other than Emmanuel Eboue. For some bizarre reason the Ivorian, who was placed on the edge of the wall, decided he would go walkabout and opened up a gap for Brunt to shoot into. I don’t want to dwell for too long on this given the final outcome of the game, but it was once again a disappointing effort by Eboue.

In the grand scheme of things, though, it mattered little. Bendtner wasted an excellent chance to double his tally while Almunia made a smart stop at the other end, before we scored again. Arshavin flighted a lovely free-kick from the left onto the head/shoulder/chest of Toure and the stand-in captain notched his first goal of the season. 

Things got even better for us just minutes later as Toure chipped a lovely ball into the path of Bendtner and the Dane slammed a sweet volley past Carson. It meant a 3-1 half-time lead, a ridiculously welcome change from the 0-0s that had greeted Arsenal fans for the past four matches.

Half-time saw an unexpected change as Toure was forced off with injury, replaced by Abou Diaby. The substitution meant a reshuffle as Song went to centre-back and Diaby slotted into the middle alongside Denilson. 

The second half burned into life 10 minutes after the restart when a series of Arsenal attempts were denied. First Arshavin was denied by a lovely save by Carson after good work by Bendtner, before the same combination was denied by the West Brom keeper just a minute later. Then Diaby produced a wonderful piece of skill to weave past a marker before having a powerful effort blocked by another defender. Then on the hour mark, Bendtner weaved into the area only to see his well-struck effort cannon off the post.

West Brom could have pulled one back when Marc-Antoine Fortune had a shot tipped away by Almunia, but we always looked in control of the match and had the last effort of the game as Arshavin had another shot saved on 90 minutes. And that was it – three goals, three points and much-needed boost of confidence.

In terms of performances I thought there were two standouts; Bendtner and Arshavin. The Dane was by far our best player, creating chances at will with his bustling dribbling and overall workrate. The Russian, on the other hand, impressed with his neat passing and creativity. Although his fitness isn’t there just yet it’s clear Arshavin has a brilliant footballing mind and is capable of seeing passes and plays that other players in our squad – excluding Cesc Fabregas – just can’t see.

In summary, it was by far a perfect team effort but at the end of the day we got exactly what we needed; three points. We’re just three points behind Aston Villa now and with the Birmingham club facing a tough trip to Manchester City tonight there’s every indication that it might stay that way.

Have your say on Arsenal’s win over West Brom by leaving a comment.

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30 Responses to “Arsenal shatter scoreless record at West Brom”

  1. Dally
    March 4, 2009 at 7:19 pm #

    Great to be back on the scoring sheet, and good that Bendtner got 2. RvP is in my fantasy team though, oh well we all have to make sacrifices. It is difficult to comment on the game as I could only listen to it on arsenal.com, hopefully the Burnley game will be on Turkish NTv Spor on Sunday.
    @Spanish Fry, I was wondering, when you were on the air with arseblogger he asked you how you became an arsenal supporter. I was wondering if it would be of interest (as I think I am a bit older than the average blogger on your site, 46) how I became an arsenal fan and in fact a bit of history of the lean years. Arsenal have not always been a top 4 team. Anyway as it is your site please let me know.

  2. Lakeside gunner
    March 4, 2009 at 7:28 pm #

    By far you are the most negative of arsenal fans i have encountered anywhere! I’m livid with incredulity! If thats even possible! How can such a poor team as ours ever win? i’m sure people wonder after reading your blog. They must think that the teams under us in the table are absolute wankers for letting us sit atop them. Actually, i’ll just stop reading your blog. Its irritating me when i’m looking forward to reading happy celebratory descriptions of a game we won! We won without fabregas, adebayor, van persie, walcott, rosicky, silvestre etc.. What kinda fan are ya?

  3. Spanish Fry
    March 4, 2009 at 7:36 pm #

    @ Lakeside – What do you mean about being negative?

  4. Gibbs
    March 4, 2009 at 7:46 pm #

    Lakeside, what have you been smoking fella?

    Anyway, great blog SF. A great win last night, besides the stupid goal we conceded and Eboue’s horrible miss(again), it was a great performance. Its Burnley next and im looking for revenge, hopefully AA gets his first goal for us.

  5. gbenga
    March 4, 2009 at 7:49 pm #

    Finally, d team broke d curse of Morgana Clark & I hope bloggers like u will learn 2 support its team even during its darkest moments. Nothing lasts 4ever man. A losing & a winning streak comes 2 an end someday. Common lads lets kick more a**es.

  6. kameron
    March 4, 2009 at 9:19 pm #

    If only all sides were as accommodating as West Bromwich Albion.
    West Brom are so charitable. No confidence, no tackling, no danger, no points. Manchester United would have won the game 10-0 straight, so 3-1 will do us thanks. We needed goals and a win and the Baggies were pleasantly compliant with both, so all donations gratefully received.

    There has been a lot of attention given to how West Brom are trying to play ‘football’. Is everyone else playing basketball? By ‘playing football’ it is meant that they are passing the ball on the ground, rather than lumping it around and ‘playing percentages’. (Are footballers intelligent enough to understand percentages, or to know what that phrase is supposed to mean)?

    As my uncle Ed says, there is nothing in the rule book that says football has to be played on the ground, you can do what you like with it. The common consensus has been accepted that football isn’t football unless it is played on the ground. Brian Clough may have said “if God wanted football to be played in the air he’d have put grass in the sky”, but he wasn’t fighting a relegation battle at the time. West Brom will get relegated because they are too pleasant for the Premier League. They are the football equivalent of the band on the Titanic, gleefully playing ‘football’ while the ship goes down.

    It was great for us that West Brom have chosen to ‘play football’ because they aren’t very good at it and that enabled us to get the ball off them a lot. We don’t have many midfielders that are terribly good at passing the ball to their own teammates either but we are, thankfully, marginally better at it than West Brom.

    We needed something to kickstart scoring goals again and a match against the Baggies is just the prescription that any ill club needs. It is just a shame that we can’t play them a few more times this season because we could do with racking up the points.

    Still, it will be interesting to see how Villa cope with waiting 24 hours before visiting Manchester City, which is just enough time for Arsenal closing to within three points of them to play on their mind. In a nice twist for Villa, City will be without both Craig Baloney and Robinho. That should work in Villa’s favour and my prediction of a 2-1 City win is now less likely. Villa might think that a good result is now in the bag though with City having to field less damaging players, but that is a risky mindset if the likes of Bojinov et al start better than Villa expect and City manage to go 1-0 up. I still fancy that City can get at least a point.

    Like I’ve been saying all along, I don’t believe that Villa can handle a 38-game season and I retain my belief that Arsenal can and hence will overcome Villa for fourth place by the end of that 38th game. As George Graham used to say, it’s a marathon not a sprint. The reward comes when you pass the finishing line, let’s see if Villa can handle the home straight.

  7. Berrern
    March 4, 2009 at 9:39 pm #

    Lakeside, what are you on about???

    This is an excellent blog in my opinion, and I rarely find (it does occasionally happen though) SF to be too harsh or negative. He definitely isn’t today!

    Great performance by the lads, and a great result to go with it. Can’t wait for our next game now!

    @ SF: What ever happened to the Polls you used to post earlier in the season? I found them very interesting, and I hope you find the time to re-introduce them. Hell, if you need any help with it, I could lend a hand 🙂

    Keep up the good work!

  8. Filipino Dan
    March 4, 2009 at 10:18 pm #

    Great result, especially due to the fact that we are able to rest RvP. 14 games unbeaten now is it? Superb.

    Tonight, for 90 minutes, I will become a city fan. I suppose it’s better than being a Man United fan.

    4th place/ champions league/ FA cup – here we come!

  9. Awuor AWuor
    March 4, 2009 at 10:22 pm #

    Thank the almighty for all this, we have been waiting for this for avery long time.wenger should give all stikers 30minutes play for them to show some commitments

  10. Ezra
    March 4, 2009 at 10:54 pm #

    Kameron i think i know what you are about and thats a win at whatever coast, ugly or beautfully. But i think football is about balance, we all see how liverpool switch balls from wing to wing but there comes a time when you have to show the difference from astonvilla and top top club how do you do that kameron? Its not in the money as Arsene has showed us time and again!

  11. Ezra
    March 4, 2009 at 11:09 pm #

    I regret greatly that the game wasn’t televised in Uganda here i only had 2 follow the game on wap but is good to read it soundind good a game it was by Spanish Fry and you were lucky to predict the hoodoo break, when i read the starting lineup including Eboue and song i was like why did i put my money on arsenal 3-1 is ok i hope we get our revenge on sunday with blazing guns.

  12. Breezy
    March 4, 2009 at 11:22 pm #

    Great game and a great result! Not to be negative after getting what we very well needed, some goals and a win, but against a much better team I think the Eboue mishap in the wall could have cost us points big time. What was he thinking sliding out of the wall for just a second? Did he have some vision of the ball going just wide of the wall and felt he had to stop it? I don’t understand that at all! Aside from his missed chance and that mishap in the wall, he played pretty well. I still think he should be a guy that comes off the bench against bigger sides to give us a lift with 20 or 30 minutes remaining in the match. His few clumsy mishaps or lapses in thought in each game can and will cost us over a 90 minute game as we have seen a few times this season. I hate his diving as well. It looks so ridiculous at times.

    Another player I wasn’t fond of last night was Song (sorry SF I know you like him). He played fine in the second half when he was moved to the back, but as a midfielder I think he is just not there. He gave away several balls due to his touch and indecisiveness. He is much better fit to be a CB than a CM.

    I do however agree with you on how well Bendtner and Arshavin played. I still worry about Bendtner’s first touch sometimes, but overall great performance. I also think Diaby played well after he was brought on in the second half. I can’t wait to see what the likes of Arshavin, Cesc, RvP, Rosicky, Eduardo, Adebayor, Walcott and company can do when the team is completely healthy once again. Hopefully we can build on this game and move on in the FA Cup this weekend.

  13. Jess
    March 5, 2009 at 2:10 am #

    Lakeside- thanks for dropping friend see you later..Spanish negative?? Maybe I’m missing the joke.

    Anyways job done well to Bendtner he deserves it. I am excited to see Arshavin progress and thought it was real classy of Nasri to give him the free kick. Well done Gunners.

  14. MoMONEY
    March 5, 2009 at 5:13 am #

    no bellamy no robinho for Man City vs Villa… Great…

  15. MoMONEY
    March 5, 2009 at 6:53 am #

    1-0 City at the half! Hope they can hold on but now they have lost De Jong…

  16. tony onyeagwu
    March 5, 2009 at 7:05 am #

    i was hapi when i saw the result on papers,it will be great if Arsenal cud continue in their winin ways

  17. Gibbs
    March 5, 2009 at 7:39 am #

    2-0 to city! one more loss from Villa and we’ll skip to 4th. Phew.

  18. MoMONEY
    March 5, 2009 at 7:40 am #

    Officially a 3 point gap now! What a turn around from just a few days ago!!!

    We need absolute focus now. We must advance in the FA Cup as well as the UCL. The Roma game is going to be one for the ages I think… Hopefully Eduardo/ Walcott/ Ade are ready for it…

  19. Fatboy
    March 5, 2009 at 7:55 am #

    Villa now in sight, but we mustn’t let the focus slip. We’ll both drop more points between now and the end of the season, but we need to be much more consistent than we have been.

  20. jay-jay
    March 5, 2009 at 8:01 am #

    CITY CITY CITY CITY, I did state that 4th spot wasnt possible but somehow after our poor results we see only 3 points between us now. Villa had been slipping up but so had we, if we had won those game, we could be 4th already. Villa still to face Liverpool and United (so do we) but it looks good at the moment. Walcott rumoured to be in the squad to play Burnley on Sunday.

  21. butterfingers
    March 5, 2009 at 8:01 am #

    The pressure is always at the one’s in front and we will finish 4th and win the cl so it doesn’t really matter. First up burnley then the world mwa haha…..

  22. Gibbs
    March 5, 2009 at 8:01 am #

    I kinda feel sorry for poor ol Villa. They might even miss out on the Uefa cup if their aweful spell continues.

    Anyway, i hope Theo and Eduardo will return for the Burnley match. Eduardo feeding off Arshavin, now thats a mouth watering combo.

  23. Spanish Fry
    March 5, 2009 at 8:03 am #

    We’ll catch Villa now, you have to think. Hopefully by April 4 🙂

  24. Spanish Fry
    March 5, 2009 at 8:06 am #

    You could see that Man City result a mile away. They’re 9 from 14 at home now and Villa are cracking.

    Hooray!

  25. Gibbs
    March 5, 2009 at 8:11 am #

    @ SF
    April 4th is far away mate. Im hoping for March 14th, the sooner, the better.

  26. Spanish Fry
    March 5, 2009 at 10:49 am #

    @ Gibbs – That might be so, but it’s more to do with this (http://arsenalfcblog.com/arsenal-will-be-in-fourth-by-the-4th-of-april) than anything else.

  27. Dally
    March 5, 2009 at 4:31 pm #

    I go along with the 14th March theory, we have Blackburn at home and as I know they can sometimes be a bit of a problem team for us, we maybe be getting players back from injury by then and surely the team will be fired up for that game. AV then have to play the spuds and for once I will have to be cheering for them, well maybe not cheering, a light whimper will do. Went to bed last night with AV down one nil and was ecstatic when I woke up to find it 2 nil, that must realy put their spirits down, lets hope so! We don’t want to take any chances on having to rely on another dodgy lasagne.

  28. arsenaldamu
    March 5, 2009 at 5:26 pm #

    great results, a good shot in the arm..
    hope the confidence is back…we back winning ways and put more pressure on Villa. Gunners forever..!!!

  29. Chika Enemuo
    March 5, 2009 at 5:44 pm #

    Thank Arsenal is back in scoring goals. I wish they countinue like this. Who knows they might get there. Up Gunners

  30. Donatus Chika Enemuo
    July 14, 2009 at 1:32 pm #

    I beleive Arsenal will make it this coming season by the grace of God. But I will like Arsean weanger to buy star player this time.

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