This has to rate as one of the greatest Premier League shocks in history. West Brom, along with Blackpool, were everyone’s favourite to join their “I would love it ifs” in the bottom three at the end of the season. Yesterday however, the tables were turned on a usually stylish and free scoring Arsenal side – with defending like that, they’ll be lucky to finish anywhere near the Champions League.
On this form, The Baggies won’t be doing their usual yo-yo act come May 2011, but despite producing an undeniably good performance up front, Arsenal in turn demonstrated the very slackest of defending. The 50th minute brought disbelief to the home crowd, but sheer and utter joy to the travelling midlanders, as the highly experienced but obviously lithe Jerome Thomas cut in and fed Nigerian winger Peter Odemwingie for the opener.
Manuel Almunia did nothing for his chances with the England setup as he committed a total howler for West Brom’s second. Gonzalo Jara bamboozled the fragile defence and his shot found the net via Almunia’s uncharacteristic fumble. Twenty minutes later the third went in, and again Almunia was at fault having raced out to challenge Chris Brunt, who needed only to thread the ball to Thomas for the unthinkable third.
Samir Nasri pulled one back almost immediately, and Arsenal still felt they could make a game of it, their play significantly improving after the goal. As the board went up for six minutes of stoppage time, Nasri scored again to set jitters amongst the visitors. They had several chances to equalise in the dying seconds, but Arsenal couldn’t muster another goal and fell to their most resounding defeat for years.
Manuel Almunia (4) – Badly at fault for second and third goals, needs to tighten up.
Bacary Sagna (4) – Struggled against supposedly less cultured players.
Laurent Koscielny (5) – Did little to prevent defeat, but will no doubt bounce back.
Sebastian Squillaci (5) – Poor game, looked vulnerable to pace.
Gael Clichy (6) – Worked his shift but still lacked a great deal of danger.
Emmanuel Eboue (5) – Given a runaround by West Brom’s midfield.
Abou Diaby (5) – Ditto
Samir Nasri (7) – Prevented complete humiliation.
Alex Song (5) – Anonymous in parts, but showed brief flashes.
Andrei Arshavin (6) – Gave a good account of himself, but needs to avoid wasting crucial chances.
Marouane Chamakh (5) – Didn’t cause sustained periods of trouble for West Brom’s defence.
Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky – (5) – Brought on in desperation and didn’t make much difference.
Carlos Vela (4) – Crowded out most of the time.
Scott Carson (7) – Kept his defence well marshalled when under late pressure.
Joonas Olsson (6) – Otherwise competent game almost ruined by rash challenge on Eboue.
Pablo (6) – Put in a solid, workmanlike performance.
Nicky Shorey (7) – Continues to be a good acquisition with some notable wing play.
Gonzalo Jara (8) – Showed pace and trickery throughout, especially in lead up to goal.
James Morrison (6) – Helped his midfield create chances.
Chris Brunt (7) – Was a constant thorn in Arsenal’s side. Poor penalty dampens excellent performance.
Jerome Thomas (9) – Was at the heart of everything industrious about West Brom, with a goal and an assist to boot.
Youssuf Mulumbu (7) – Grew into the game and held things together well.
Paul Scharner (6) – Not much to say, the enigma had a decent game.
Peter Odemwingie (8) – Cool finish to put West Brom 1-0 up and also posed a significant threat on the wing.
Steven Reid (6) – At 2-0 didn’t have a particularly difficult job, but helped West Brom to hold out after the third goal.
Graham Dorrans (5) – Didn’t impress very much, but didn’t have to.
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