Arsenal managed to climb back to the top of the Premier League table on Sunday with a 1-1 draw against West Brom at the Hawthorns, but they’re now sharing the top spot with Liverpool as both teams have 16 points from seven games. Jack Wilshere rescued the point for the Gunners with his 63rd minute goal after West Brom went ahead in the 42nd on a header by Claudio Yacob, which was his first career goal for the Baggies.
Each team had enough chances to earn all three points, but the finishing touch simply wasn’t there for either side. Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny did his job for Arsenal when needed and so was Boaz Myhill for West Brom, but neither of them was overworked by any stretch of the imagination. The first half was relatively uneventful, but manager Arsene Wenger and England boss Roy Hodgson received a scare midway through it when Wilshere was poked in the eye accidentally by Yacob. Wilshere stayed down in the pitch for a couple of minutes, but returned to the game soon after.
Just three minutes before the halftime break, Morgan Amalfitano took a corner from the right side, but Arsenal’s clearance was poor. Youssuf Mulumbu was handed the ball n a silver platter and he fed it back to the wing to Amalfitano. The French forward then sent in a perfect cross between Arsenal defenders Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson and Yacob was there to meet it and head it down past Szcsesny. The whistle blew a few minutes later with West Brom taking the 1-0 lead to the dressing room with them.
Former Arsenal striker Nicolas Anelka had a couple of excellent chances to double the lead, but his timing and finishing were on holiday and the Gunners escaped any further punishment on the scoreboard. Wilshere had a glorious opportunity to level the score, but his shot from about 10 yards out sailed over top of the crossbar. Wilshere made up for that blown chance though in the 63rd minute when Olivier Giroud carried the ball into the attacking zone and slid it over to Tomas Rosicky at the edge of the 18-yard box.
The Czech Republic midfielder then touched it over to Wilshere who drove a low left-footed shot towards the goal from about 20 yards out. Fortunately for the Gunners the ball deflected off of Jonas Olsson’s leg and sailed into the net past a helpless Myhill. Giroud had the best chances to give Arsenal all three points, but he missed the net on one of them and Myhill filed him on the second opportunity from close range.
Defender Billy Jones had the best chance to give West Brom the win, but his low, hard shot from 25 yards out was met with a fine save by a diving Szczesny. On the positive side the Gunners kept their undefeated streak alive at 11 in all competitions this season, but the winning string ends at 10. They picked up a point, but dropped two and now have time to hopefully get some of their injured players back due to the upcoming international break.
Arsenal’s next match will be a home Premier League contest at the Emirates against Norwich City on Saturday, October 19 at 3pm and football betting suggests a good result is on the cards for The Gunners.
Arsenal Player Ratings-Sat. Oct. 5
West Brom 1-1 Arsenal –Premier League Match 7
Wojciech Szczesny – 7
Looked sloppy on a cross just before the goal, but made the saves Arsenal needed to get out of town with a point.
Carl Jenkinson – 6
Not the greatest game by Jenkinson. His passing was below par and he and Gibbs were spectators on the West Brom goal due to the ridiculous zonal marking system.
Per Mertesacker – 6.5
Mertesacker wasn’t really noticeable, which could be considered a good thing in a match like this as he didn’t make any mistakes.
Laurent Koscielny – 6.5
Koscielny did his job in the interception department, but needs to watch what he’s doing in the box as he’s prone to giving up penalties and came close to doing so again late in the game.
Kieran Gibbs – 6
Gibbs should have done better on West Brom’s goal, but other than that he had a steady game defensively.
Mikel Arteta – 6
Arteta was simply mediocre at best today even though his passing accuracy was close to perfect.
Mathieu Flamini – 6
Flamini put in a good effort as usual, but compared to some of his other performances this one was a little below par.
Mesut Ozil – 6.5
Ozil was also below his best, but still came up with some excellent passes to set up his teammates, especially Giroud and Gibbs.
Aaron Ramsey – 6
Ramsey didn’t appear to be in the best of shape and could be suffering from an injury. It showed and he was taken off after 59 minutes and replaced by Tomas Rosicky.
Jack Wilshere – 7
Wilshere didn’t produce much in the first 45 minutes, but was a force in the second half. He never gave up and earned the Gunners a point with his 20-yard strike, even if it did take a deflection on the way into the net. He also set up Giroud for what should have been a goal.
Olivier Giroud – 6.5
The French striker tried his best, but his finishing simply let him down. He helped set up Wilshere’s goal, but couldn’t find the target or beat the keeper to grab the winner. He was taken off after minutes and replaced by Nicklas Bendtner.
Tomas Rosicky – 7
Rosicky came on for Ramsey after 59 minutes and added some spark and energy. His one-touch pass to Wilshere created the goal and he played well.
Nicklas Bendtner –NA
Came on for Giroud after 85 minutes.