Arsenal 3 – 0 West Brom: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis

3 Goals. 3 Points. A Clean Sheet. Should make the upcoming fortnight very pleasant for Gooners around the world.

Arsene’s team selection was very much along the expected lines. Indeed, Le Boss mentioned that the reason for picking Koscielny and Vermaelen in the defence was to counter the anticipated pace threat of Odemwinge.

I expected [Peter] Odemwingie to play so I opted for two centre-backs who are quick. In the end he didn’t play but they worked very well together.

I must say it worked quite well. Can you recall the visitors getting any shot on goal in the opening 45? Either the Baggies were getting caught off-side or the centre-backs intercepted passes to the lone forward.

The opening 20 minutes or so were dull. The Gunners had all the possession but the visitors looked fairly safe at the back. Most of the balls into the box were coming from the wide areas and there wasn’t enough cohesion in the attack to make those count.

It all changed in the 22nd minute after a quick free-kick taken just inside the West Brom half. Ramsey received the pass and threaded an early through-ball for Walcott to run onto. Theo looked for support but even his teammates were left behind by his blazing run. From a narrow angle the England international hit the target and went for the gap between Foster’s legs. The West Brom Keeper was able to keep the ball out but was helpless as Van Persie bundled in the loose ball from close range. Ramsey deserves credit for quick thinking and execution; Walcott for his run, control, and strike; and RvP for his poacher’s instincts.

That took the pressure off and the players lost any edginess they might have been feeling. The game returned to similar patters from the initial minutes but now the onus was on the visitors and they didn’t provide any real tests.

Vermaelen provided the second goal cushion in the 39th minute. It came from a corner situation. Finally! While the initial delivery was cleared, Arsenal sustained pressure around the box. Song got on the ball on the left side and played it out to the back post towards Van Persie. The Dutchman squared it for Gervinho but it seemed a little behind the Ivorian who flicked it away from the defender. The ball went across the face of the goal when the Belgian pounced and placed is just away from the Keeper. Once again a number of Gunners were involved in the goal.

West Brom came out with greater desire in the second half and actually had ten attempts on goal but got only two on target which drew routine saves from Szczesny.

Arsenal looked like they’d shifted to second gear but the midfield worked hard in front of the defence. The Gunners were occasionally creating some chances and looked more likely to increase their lead than to concede one. Vermaelen, Ramsey, and Van Persie missed the target from decent chances while Song forced a save from Foster.

The third goal was scored by Arteta as he arrived on the edge of the box at just the right moment. Rosicky, who’d just come on for Ramsey, played a vital role in creating the goal as did RvP who got the assist. I was impressed by the way Arteta caressed the ball into the corner. Once again at least three players showed their quality in the build-up an finish.

After that it was just a matter of seeing the game out. West Brom saw a lot of the ball and got up to the Arsenal penalty area but didn’t create any clear cut chances.

Individual Performances:

Szczesny: Didn’t have much to do.

Jenkinson: Put in some excellent crosses, went up and down the flank tirelessly, positioning was quite good in the defensive areas.

Koscielny: Was always in control. I enjoyed his confidence and one particular run that took him right up to the opposition box after starting from the defensive third.

Vermaelen: Took his goal well. Went really close with another header. Dominated his area of the pitch.

Santos: I liked his physical strength in defensive areas. Made very good runs but didn’t quite get the right pass. Still there are times when he gets caught out of position on the left and is slow to recover.

The back five were largely untroubled. The visitors were caught off-side regularly. The attacks were also snuffed out with Arsenal consistently outnumbering the forward players. When the ball did get to the final third the central defenders marshalled the area in front of goal and prevented any open chances. There were some half-chances from set-pieces and on another day it might have been a different story but that will take time.

Song: Typical Song performance.

Ramsey: I thought he was struggling with his passing but then he produced the defence splitting pass that led to the first goal. I would love to know his distance covered stats. Seems like he gets everywhere.

Arteta: Good to see him on the score sheet again. The Spaniard can contribute a few more goals from that area of the pitch as his shooting technique is top class. Spread the ball well and did his defensive duties.

Wenger has tweaked some of the midfield roles and this trio is getting better and better with every game. Ramsey played a key pass for the first goal, Song for the second, Arteta got the third. While bulk of their work was non-glamorous and workmanlike, all three are influencing games in their own way.

Walcott: Wasn’t very impressive in the opening 20 minutes but as Arsene has observed, he can be a very efficient player when the right pass arrives. I did feel he could have done better by hugging the touchline rather than cutting inwards against a fullback who preferred staying narrow.

RvP: Another goal with an assist to boot. The goal looked easy but his instincts were sharp. Many strikers would not have reached that ball. Also led from the front on the composure and work rate fronts.

Gervinho: Made a number of runs down the middle without really getting or creating excellent chances but kept going and his resilience must be appreciated. Got a vital touch and should get the assist for the second goal.

The front three weren’t as threatening against a packed defence but found different ways to contribute. Can’t really ask for more game after game.

Subs: Rosicky looked lively in the attacking areas. Benayoun and Arshavin didn’t have much to do but the Israeli captain put in a decent defensive shift.

Wenger: Seems like a straightforward win once it is achieved but would have been criticized for not rotating enough if the team failed to get a win.

25 Responses to Arsenal 3 – 0 West Brom: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis

  1. Tim says:

    A very fair assessment, Desi.

    In fact, West Brom had no shots in the first half, although there was one moment where Jerome Thomas dithered in a dangerous position and Koscielny blocked him off. I don;y think Szczesny had a meaningful save to make until the 87th minute.

    Although WBA were poor and we cruised through most of the game, this was a pleasing team performance. In particular Kos, Theo, Jenkinson and Ramsey – who have been the target of quite a bit of criticism at various times – were all excellent. They are improving as individuals in an improving side which is certainly gelling now. Those fans who were impatient and expected a virtually new side to perform instantly should recognise the strides that all four players have taken in recent weeks. Credit where credit is due.

    In particular, Jenkinson looks a real prospect. The defensive side of his game needs a bit of work, but what an engine he has and what a great crosser of the ball he is.

  2. Faleye Ebenezer says:

    I am very very happy with this ysterday match lol, what a great 3point, how i wish at the end of the league i want to see Arsenal as the winner of the Trophy nd my Captain as the highest goal scorer, i know they can do it, Up wenger u re too much, just that we need Podolski nd Hazard by January. Thanks Up Arsenal.

  3. drvics says:

    Hi Desi,
    Good match report as always. We didnt get to see the match here in India cause ESPNSTAR thought Manu Vs Sunderland, Liverpool Vs Swansea were more worthwhile. They didnt even show the goals in the highlights package during the ManU half time break. This is the 3rd time this season Arsenal EPL match hasnt been televised. I have been emailing them but to no avail.

    Glad to hear about the thoroughly professional performances last night. And really glad to see (or rather read) Arteta scoring.

    Anyway, a very important 45 day period begins starting Nov 19th, with 12 matches leading up to Jan 2. Squad strength will be tested during this period, especially the Dortmund, Fulham & Man City (Carling Cup) games in 1 week at the end of November.

    Cant wait for the commotion to start and hope that we will be firmly placed in the top 4, within striking distance of the leaders by the end of the year.

    • STV says:

      Second that pal. It was ridiculous !

    • sharan says:

      @drvics: being a massive fan and watcher of arsenal games, i too hate it when Arsenal live games are ignored in preference to liverpool or chelsea. surely, on days when the timings clash they should alternate. but i cannot remember an arsenal game (against a team outside the top 5) being broadcase in preference to manu, liverpool or chelsea. damn annoying.

  4. gody says:

    thnx 2 th team 4 th win. We are bgining 2 get th results w deserve.

  5. santori says:

    Fair assessment as per usual Desi.

    Good to see the confidence coming back into the team. Thought we strung theball around on the deck very well today. Sharp passing, good movement.

    Jenkinson had himself an excellent game.

    This starting slection ingeneral is beginning to tick together.

    It’s looking good for us again and I am confident we can reclaim a CL spot by Xmas.

    Only concern would be an alternative to RVP at the moment. I believe the tools are avialable within the squad but it may require a little bit of tweaking with squad formation.

    But we’re in excellent form now and our ‘panic buys’ are starting to pay dividend (well done Arteta). After all, not bad for a team in crisis with a rubbish defense to have crept up to within level of a ‘resurgent’ Liverpool don’t you think?:D

  6. santori says:

    BTW, sout to the gaffer. Good substitutions. Had an immediate impact.

  7. Prolonta says:

    Great game. Couldn’t have asked for more. The players just need to keep it up and improve. We still got a long way to go. Looking at the qualities on the bench just made me smile. With the experienced quality players like Per, Rosicky, Arshavin on our sub bench u can honestly say we lack depth( don’t mind my sarcasm). Jack, Sagna, Diaby still on the treatment table, Frimpong and Coquelin still on fringes of the first team. I personally think we’ve got enough depth in our midfield to take us through the season. Now I can go through the ‘boring’ international break in a relaxed mood. IN ARSENE WE TRUST

  8. Smeone answer me! Wea did arshavin i knew go 2?iam seeing a lazy,a not so serious arshavin.Gudos 2 R.v.p ,he’s a fantastic team leader,i luv Ramsey,up konsielny-mek sure squilaci dnt cme back.the over-confidence djourou sucks.gday Gunners.

  9. asuka says:

    that was a great game. the three points are very important at this stage to put the top three under pressure. consistency is key as we wait for any stumble in the top 4 teams. i believe that Arteta is going to be a great player for our team once he’s properly settled. he does small things but very efficient.

  10. ibezimako josemaria says:

    what happened to the ‘in arsene we rust’ brigade ? i hope you all eat the humble pie for a long time .. how easy it is to go about slating and asking for wenger head on a platter.. now that he has turned the game around why dont u come out and give him his due .. if his winning all the way keeps those negative comments off this blog so be it .. lovey game .. nice goal by verminator and RVP .. super contribution all around .. lets hope the curse of november or international games doesnt creep in

    • anyone says:

      Well, you have just wait for the spring to come. Autumns are good for Arsenal every year, either 2010, or 2009 etc. etc. Then, SUDDENLY, march is coming, euforia is gone, points are dropped, title is missed one more time, but Arsene is a great manager again.

      “Judge me in may” – he told so one year ago, may passed, he totally failed, nobody really judged him.

  11. Tolulope emmanuel says:

    May d Lord continue helpin us, up gunners!!!

  12. KAZZIEE Bh says:

    Really a good result,a sweat display…VP? a world class striker. n d oda players, xcelent performance. n i tink just a litle patience n a prayer 4 luck we’ll b there.

  13. AbachaGhana says:

    The best midfield in the league at the moment is arsenal’s interms of attack-defend… I wont be surprised if we go unbeaten for the rest of the 1st leg matches even against mancity.. Ohh Gunners!

  14. elboy says:

    I think wenger could experiment with a 3-5-2 formation

    Koz-per mert-verminator


    Van persie-gervinho

    Subs:ryo arshavin rosicky djourou jenkinson oxo kid

    I think this formation could be ideal for dominating a game, 2 strikers, left n right mid player will have great cover when attacking in song or verm on da left or koz on da right and our 3 best defender will be on the pitch with mert stayin central

    Song will be be the key man and needs full concerntration to cover if koz n verm bomb forward and the left and right mid as well as doing his usual job but I would not expect koz n verm to go forward to often as our defenders need to defend n leave our offencive players to attack the game knwing they have great defenders behind them to mop up who can actually mop up

    I think this form can work

    • feygooner says:

      Walcott on the right would be suicidal in a 3-5-2. Besides, Arteta isn’t a good enough DM for that role.

      Our current formation works well, why not stick with it?

      • elboy says:

        Walcott would not need to think too defensivly in this formation

        But I hear u, if it aint broken don’t fix it, but there are many positves from the 3 5 2 which I dnt wanna type to explaine coz there’s tht many to write

  15. drvics says:

    I think, we are kinda already using a hybrid of 3-5-2 & 4-3-3. Santos’ positioning suggests he is being used more as a wingback, especially against lesser teams. I dont know if its a conscious decision or the fact the Santos just likes to bomb forward. But this has meant that the whole midfield kinda shifts to the left to cover for him, forcing the right forward (usually Walcott) to be more pragmatic. It is a good ploy against lesser teams if the midfield knows their role can can cover for him, but good team, as we saw against Chelsea, can exploit it as well. This is where I think Arteta has been immense for us. No one other than Wilshere (and on the rare occasions Denilson when he played with Song in the cetre midfield) was able to provide that balance and cover of the left sided midfielder. In fact Wilshere struggled a lot early on to provide that cover, as expertly discussed by Desi in this very blog, early last season. Arteta has got his priorities right and started out erring more on the defensive side. Now that he has a hang of the formation and his team mates we will see a lot more contribution on the offensive side from him.

  16. O.Opeyemi says:

    Good match,good result.

  17. zaragooner says:

    I’ve got a correct score prediction..hahaha..can take a proper breath now, after a long time.. Great analysis Desi, as always. We won without so much difficulties, not an easy game but yeah, we did it. The Gunners Is back.. I watched Arteta’s goal again and again, I love how we moved the ball just the little bit quicker. Interchanges of passes saw Rosicky released the ball to van persie, and van persie feed Arteta with the ball and the Spaniard net his 2nd goal of PL (But 1st goal at Emirates Stadium). As I mentioned in earlier in my pre-match review, the midfield trio are important because they will come and press our them. Thank God, Arteta Song and Ramsey looked very gel together now and moved midfield as a unit..what a lovely special mention to baby Carl. He gave everything last night.. The lads will become top RB soon..We have interlul break for two weeks. Till then, Up the Gunners!

  18. Long Island Gunner says:

    Great stuff Desi.

    For Tim: “The defensive side of his game needs a bit of work, but what an engine he has and what a great crosser of the ball he is.”
    – Could not have agreed more nor said it better. Still a teenager through February – wow. Picking him over JD speaks volumes about AW’s opinion of the player.

    For Drvics: There are a number of sites that “stream” the game live if, by some odd chance, you were not aware.

    As for the match and the players:
    In reverse order – I keep hearing the commentators go on and on about “RVP is the only World Class player” we have now that Cesc and Nasri have left. Cesc was top class and we will not ever “replace” him, but we will have the players to take over for him and when you see 20 year olds Ramsey and Wilshere at their best, we are already close to being there. (BTW – Nasri for all the talk of World Class is finding it hard to get 10 minutes of playing time at City; no time yesterday, garbage time in the Manchester Derby – hope he takes solace in the paycheck).

    So keeping in mind where my Gunner “push back” comes from – certainly agree with most everyone’s assessments on the site but want to add:

    Sczezzer – nothing to do, but which keeper in World Football is currently performing at a measurably higher level than our Shot Stopper (and he’s 21!!!)

    How “World Class” do you have to be before you / we realize that a Healthy TV5 is one of the best central defenders in World football and didn’t he make that case again in the WBA Match a mere 2 weeks after returning from Injury! Right there with Vidic and Kompany and Scores a few goals. Please don’t talk to me about Cahill ever again.

    While not at the World Class level – astute observers of the game continue to dismiss Kosc at their peril. He has the “footballing brain” on steroids that so many young players are accused of lacking (including one or two of ours). He’s shown he has an appetite for the big match against sophisticated opponents (Barca match anyone?) and if he stays health we will have the best “committee” of central defenders in the PL this season.

    Song – “typical” performance makes the point all the more forceful. What holding midfielder in England is putting in shift after shift along the lines of our “coiffed one”? I think the Cesc / Nasri magilla hit him where it hurts emotionally (and he demonstrated that frustration in the Newcastle match) but he has recovered well and, I believe, is enjoying his football with Arteta and Ramsey completing the midfield. The 3 of them have really started to accentuate each other’s strengths and cover for each other’s weaknesses – which has been shown to occur only with time in the crucible of match play. Sprinkle in LJW and season this midfield stew to perfection.

    Gervinho – still on pace to “acclimate” along the lines of TH 14, who also took some settling in. I make no illusions that Gerv will be at that level but he grows into our play every week and I, for one, appreciate his work rate on both sides of the ball. I watched him chase the WBA right mid all the way across the face of the 18 yard box in the second half denying the player an easy pass or a hopeful shooting chance and smiled broadly. As RVP has said, he has that little “extra gear” and he is starting to use it properly.

    Theo – agree that he is as exciting as he is frustrating. Played in by our mids, he is always making something happen in the way of great chances. If he starts ‘finding” the game more when it doesn’t find him enough, he could be a top class wide player and this season and – frankly – the next 7 weeks could go a long way to seeing which fork in the road his story takes.

    Tied for 5th, 3 points off Chelsea and Newcastle yet to play ANYONE at all this season. I’m feeling top 3 this week absent a traffic jam in the treatment room….

  19. VanTheManPersie says:

    Its staggering how routine it looked in this match for arsenal. We were rarely our of second gear for most of the game and still won 3-0. On top of that , this team still has a lot of gelling together remaining and that must look scary to the other teams. We have WIlshere out and right now although we miss him, we are still getting by ok. You cant say the same about Liverpool withou gerrard though:) And to think they spent millions rebuilding this year. JUst goes to show what wenger says that you can get the same quality at less than half the price if you hunt outside the english market:) The next match would be crucial as its an away tie after an international break. Lets hope we remain healthy and just have enough juice in the tank to get a win. Good thing is prolly Kos,Mert,Santos,Arteta,Jenkinson should be fine as they wont get much playing time if any:)
    I guess everybody is keeping their finger’s crossed for RVP.

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