Arsenal 2-0 West Brom: This win solves all our problems* + Arsecast 388

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Last night’s win makes it our second longest sequence of games without defeat this season. Back in November and December we had a six game run of 5 wins and 1 draw. This time it’s 3 wins and 2 draws. Kinda sums up how patchy we’ve been throughout this campaign.

Nevertheless, it was pleasant to win. Just so I can be 100% clear on this: it’s possible to be be happy that we won a game but still fully aware of the fact that our season has been disappointing and that there’s a bigger picture. It seems a shame to have to make such an obvious point but it is necessary. I haven’t forgotten the bad bits, I just quite like it when the bits are better than that.

So, the game began with a rather empty looking Emirates Stadium, plenty of empty seats, although it did fill up a bit more than that as people arrived later. There’s no doubt that very many stayed away, however, and we all know the reasons why.

With Mertesacker, Ramsey and Giroud restored to the side, we began brightly enough, and in the 6th minute we were ahead. Ramsey fed Alexis, he span away from the defender, and cracked in a low shot which I thought the keeper probably should have done better with at first viewing, but such was the power and accuracy of it, he had no chance. I loved the second touch which set up the shot, maybe it wasn’t 100% intentional, but still. It worked out.

It wasn’t exactly stirring stuff, although Alexis looked well up for it and Hector Bellerin raced about like Billy Whizz on actual whizz. All the while West Brom’s ambition seemed to be if they could give even less of a shit about an end of season fixture than they did last year when they allowed Theo Walcott to run riot. They did crack a header off the bar, in fairness, but that was about it for the 90 minutes.

Whatever else you might say about a Tony Pulis team, they’re usually well organised so he’ll have been doing his angry little nut about the way his wall set up for the free kick when Ramsey was fouled on the edge of the box. Arsenal put Mertesacker and Giroud into it, Alexis hit it into the space they vacated and Foster was caught as flat as the Australian lager his great-granddad Malcolm invented.

So 2-0 up and this time we didn’t do anything stupid, which is a nice improvement, regardless of how too little, too late it is. They made two changes at half-time, bringing on an enormous fat bloke up front but it made no real difference. Please don’t tell him I called him fat. He’s probably not. He just looks it.

Better decision making from us in the final third would certainly have improved the scoreline, but so much of that comes with confidence and we still look a bit fragile in that regard. Giroud was denied a goal by the goalkeeper’s face, a cracker of a shot which after which I must commend him for not crying when the close up came because he really took a belter. Joel Campbell and Theo Walcott came on, the Costa Rican almost scored and was busy in the final few minutes.

But there was little danger this was going to end up anything other than a comfortable Arsenal win, and with that we move into third place in the Premier League, ahead of Man City, and before we travel to Sunderland on Sunday.

Afterwards, Arsene Wenger said:

Overall I believe the quality of our game was very good. Maybe, we could have scored more goals. That is the only thing you could say tonight. We didn’t concede and couldn’t finish the game off the way we wanted. Every point is important at the moment. I think we are under permanent pressure in every single game.

It was the kind of win that should have been much more routine this season, but as we know that hasn’t been the case. All we can do now is garner as many points as possible, and finish as high as we can up the table. Third is in our own hands, which would remove a layer of complication from our summer and the early part of next season, so that’s where we are.

Again, it’s self-evident to say that this is little consolation for what should have been, but there you go.

Right then, it’s time now for this week’s Arsecast and because it was all weird with Thursday night football, I chat with Philippe Auclair about Arsene Wenger and the situation at the club right now. We chat about the pressure Wenger is under, his role in eventual change, the club’s ability to deal with a new manager, and more. After that I’m joined by Andrew Allen to discuss the West Brom game, the atmosphere, some Theo Walcott issues, and all the rest. I also give you the winners of the Danny Karbassiyoon book competition at last (details on the book can be found here). And there’s some of the usual waffle too for waffle fans.

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We’ll have news and all the rest throughout the day over on Arseblog News, more from me tomorrow. Until then, have a good one.

*Just curious how many people will respond to the headline without actually reading the article. My guess is LOTS.

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