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 Barclays Premier League: W.B.A. 1-3 Arsenal

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KomentarNaslov komentara: Barclays Premier League: W.B.A. 1-3 Arsenal   Wed Mar 04, 2009 1:29 am

Barclays Premier League
The Hawthorns
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
19:45

Goals Scored By:

W.B.A: Brunt 6

ARSENAL FC: Bendtner 4, 44, Toure 38

Nicklas Bendtner scored a well-taken brace as Arsenal ended their goal drought with a comfortable victory at the Hawthorns.

The Dane ended the Club’s run of 604 minutes without a Premier League goal when he struck in the fourth minute before putting the result beyond doubt before the break.

West Brom had pegged Arsenal back with Chris Brunt’s free-kick but Kolo Toure restored the visitors’ lead with his first of the campaign. In truth, the winning margin could and should have been more.

Arsčne Wenger had warned before the game that the goals would flow as soon as his team managed to end their worrying run. And so it proved.

Arsenal were within a whisker of slipping eight points behind Aston Villa at the weekend but they are now just three behind the side occupying fourth place. Martin O’Neill’s side might just feel a modicum of pressure when they visit Manchester City tomorrow night.

Wenger had hinted at minimal rotation for this game so it was something of a surprise to see four changes on the Arsenal teamsheet. One was enforced – Johan Djourou replacing the injured William Gallas. Emmanuel Eboue and Alex Song were drafted in to stiffen the midfield while Bendtner was recalled up front.

Before kick-off all the talk was of Arsenal’s goal drought. The Gunners had not delivered four consecutive 0-0 draws in the League since October 1993 - the days of George Graham and Eddie McGoldrick.

One more goalless game would set an unlikely record in the English top flight but the statisticians were thwarted just four minutes into the game. That’s how long it took Bendtner to fire Arsenal ahead.

The source of the goal was a poorly-taken corner by Samir Nasri. It was easily cleared at the near post but only as far as Denilson, who picked out Bendtner on the right corner of the box. The striker worked himself a yard of space and curled a low shot into Scott Carson’s bottom corner.

Arsenal had finally thrown off the shackles but, within two minutes, they were pegged back. Brunt lined up a free-kick from 22 yards and his low effort flew through the defensive wall past Manuel Almunia. The Spaniard was furious and rightly so – Arsenal had just undone their good work.

Buoyed by their unexpected equaliser, Albion pressed for a second and Luke Moore almost obliged. The striker had his back to goal and Djourou in close attention when he received the ball 20 yards out but Moore span and fired towards Almunia’s near post. The keeper scrambled to his left to keep Arsenal level.

Moore headed another chance over the crossbar after Brunt’s corner had caused consternation in the visitors’ box, but by and large Arsenal were in control. Bendtner fluffed a great chance after Eboue’s mis-kick fell invitingly for him and Arshavin sliced a shot wide from the edge of the box. The Russian would soon make amends.

Eight minutes before the break, Clichy was shoved off the ball on the left flank. Arshavin drifted a delightful free-kick into the box and Toure guided a downward header past Carson.

This time, Arsenal did not waste their advantage. Indeed, six minutes later, they effectively put the result beyond doubt.

This time Toure turned provider, lofting a pass into the right channel for the unmarked Bendtner. The Dane was given far too much space by a porous Albion defence but his first touch was exquisite and his finish was clinical.

It was suggested before the game that, if Wenger were to hand-pick an opponent in light of Arsenal’s recent travails, he would have chosen Albion. The Baggies were certainly living up to their billing. They lack the bite of the other promoted sides and, although they try to play football; Arsenal just play it better.

The visitors confirmed their superiority after the break, creating chance after chance.

Bendtner was at the hub of most of Arsenal’s finest moves. The Dane set up Arshavin inside the box after 52 minutes but Carson tipped the Russian’s effort past the post. Seconds later Arshavin showed quick feet to get another shot away just eight yards out but, once again, he was denied by a minor deflection.

You could smell a goal and Abou Diaby, on as a half-time substitute, almost obliged. Turning Ryan Donk one way and then the other, the Frenchman sent a vicious shot towards goal but another deflection rescued Albion.

Bendtner, chasing a hat-trick, so nearly completed his first Arsenal treble after a slaloming run into the box ended with a low shot against the left-hand post. Four minutes later the Dane picked out Eboue but the Ivorian shot straight at Carson.

It really could have been anything as far as Arsenal were concerned but they were almost caught out on the break with 17 minutes left. Marc-Antoine Fortune broke clear on the right but angled his drive inches past the far post.

It was a brief respite for Albion.

Bacary Sagna fired over the bar and Bendtner followed suit as time ticked down. Arshavin forced another save from Carson right at the end when it seemed a first Arsenal goal would be his.

Arshavin will have to wait a little longer. For now, it’s good to see any Arsenal player finding the net.

ARSENAL TEAM SHEET:
Manuel Almunia
Bacary Sagna
Kolo Toure(46)
Johan Djourou
Gael Clichy
Emmanuel Eboue(67)
Alex Song
Denilson
Samir Nasri(83)
Andrey Arshavin
Nicklas Bendtner

Substitutes
Lukasz Fabianski
Abou Diaby(46)
Robin Van Persie
Carlos Vela
Aaron Ramsey(67)
Kieran Gibbs
Fran Merida(83)
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