Midfielder Tomas Rosicky was the unlikely hero for Arsenal on Saturday afternoon as he scored both goals in the Gunners 2-1 win at West Brom. Arsenal hung on after taking a 2-0 lead as Per Mertesacker was sent off in the 70th minute with a red card and also conceded a penalty on the play. West Brom took advantage of it and narrowed the score.
Manager Arsene Wenger then invited West Brom to attack time and time again by taking off Gervinho and then Rosicky. With nobody to defend against other than Olivier Giroud, West Brom pushed up the pitch and Romelu Lukaku came extremely close to an equalizer. I suppose all’s well that ends well though and Arsenal came out of the Hawthorns with all three points, which is all that really matters. The win, their third straight, pushed them to fourth place in the table, at least temporarily.
The Gunners will now have to wait until Sunday to see how Spurs, Chelsea, and Everton respond. The good news for Wenger is that somebody has to drop points in the Spurs vs Everton Spurs match and both teams could if it ends in a draw. Spurs are in third place with 57 points with Arsenal in fourth at 56 and Chelsea in fifth with 55. Everton is next at 51. Chelsea plays Sunderland tomorrow. Arsenal also has a game in hand over Tottenham.
Rosicky’s goals couldn’t have come at a better time for the team as they were his first and only two of the season. The Czech Republic international has been playing very well in both ends of the pitch lately and it was good to see him rewarded for his hard work and creative play. Rosicky opened the scoring in the 20th minute on a rare header.
The goal came after Gervinho made a nice run down the left side of the pitch and cut into the penalty area. He then crossed the ball and Rosicky pounced on hit with a well-placed header into the bottom corner of the goal. Only Gervinho knows if the ball was a cross or a wayward attempt at the goal though. It was the third assist in the past two games for the Ivory Coast international.
The Gunners were up 1-0 when the half time whistle was blown and then took the lead early in the second half. Rosicky took a pass from Aaron Ramsey and slammed a nice half volley at West Brom keeper Ben Foster who could only palm the ball back into open play. Rosicky pounced again and deposited the rebound into the net in the 50th minute.
The tide turned in the 70th minute though after Mertesacker chopped down Shane Long in the box as he was racing for a ball and was sent off with a straight red. The foul was certainly a penalty and a yellow, but a red is questionable as Long wasn’t in alone on Arsenal keeper Lukasz Fabianski. James Morrison took the spot kick, which was actually a poor one, but it was still enough to beat Fabianski.
West Brom poured on the pressure over the last 20 minutes, but Gareth McAuley and Lukaku missed glorious chances to level the game.
Arsenal Player Ratings vs West Brom on April 6
Lukasz Fabianski 6.5
He made a couple of good saves, but perhaps could have had the penalty kick. His handling of crosses was adventurous and kicking wasn’t the greatest. Did what he had to do though.
Bacary Sagna 6
He needs to work on his crosses. He had a good scoring chance and a decent game overall, but not his best.
Per Mertesacker 4
Gave up the penalty and earned a red card. Also gave a poor pass to Koscielny minutes earlier which resulted in a yellow card for the Frenchman. Very sloppy.
Laurent Koscielny 6.5
He had a steady outing and was valuable with his clearances.
Nacho Monreal 6.5
One of the Spaniards better games as he was in control most of the way with no glaring errors.
Mikel Arteta 7
Arteta started well, but began to wear down as the minutes wore on. A good effort from him though.
Aaron Ramsey 6.5
Set up Rosicky for the second goal, but earned an early yellow card. Missed a glorious chance before the first half ended from close range.
Tomas Rosicky 8
The best Gunner on the pitch with two fine goals. He also played well in his own end by clearing off the line with his head. Unfortunately he was taken off in the 82nd minute for Kieran Gibbs.
Gervinho 6.5
Not a bad game by Gervinho. He set up the first goal with a good run, but it might have been a shot instead of a cross to Rosicky. Either way it ended up in the back of the net. Was taken off after 73 minutes for  Thomas Vermaelen.
Santi Cazorla 6
A rather quiet game from Cazorla today. He didn’t do anything wrong mind you, but wasn’t really too involved. Came off after 89 minutes for Francis Coquelin
Olivier Giroud 5
Giroud had one of his weaker outings of the season. He didn’t do much right and wasn’t really a factor.
Kieran Gibbs 6
Came on for Rosicky after 82 minutes and did his job.
Thomas Vermaelen 6
Came on after 70 minutes for Gervinho and also did what was expected of him
Francis Coquelin NA
Came on after 89 minutes for Cazorla

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