Away at the Hawthorns was never looking like a comfortable ride, Arsenal were liking to make it three wins aim a row in the Premier Legue and put ourselves 4th and breathing down the necks of Spurs.
Wenger named an unnamed side, which given the performance at home to Reading seemed a fair thing to do.
The thing I like most about this midfield is its fluidity, Gervinho, Cazorla and Rosicky take themselves across the pitch, which means that even an organised defence like WBA’s has trouble tracking runs.
The first goal being a case in point, Arteta floated a perfectly weighted pass into the penalty area, Gervinho had run from inside right to the left side if the penalty area to collect unchallenged despite 4/5 defenders being close by and only Giroud for company, not one for rushing Gervinho waited for support finally cutting back and aiming a cross come shot to the fat post, Rosicky had joined the attack and arrived unmarked to head home from the 6 yard box.
This wasn’t Rosicky’s first action of the half having earlier cleared off the line with a very good header. In truth the Arsenal goal had come against the run of play, Fabianski had already been called into action but generally the new found defensive strength was holding strong.
We did seem to apply the handbrake after the goal and attacks were infrequent, Gervinho forcing Foster to save well with his feet and after fantastic interplay round the box by Santi and Giroud, Ramsey missed when it seemed easier to score. His recent performances have deserved a goal.
Half time 1-0 up and half job done.
Soon after the restart Rosicky had doubled the advantage, collecting a ball by Ramsey to fire a shot that Foster saved well, Rosicky followed in his own shot and fired low and hard past Foster. The celebration said it all.
Seemingly coasting to the win this wouldn’t be Arsenal unless they put us through the mill a bit, and this they did when the BFG found himself out of position for the first time in the afternoon and lunged to prevent Long collecting and going through on goal unchallenged. Red card and penalty, it is easy to argue that Per should have let Long continue but that’s a big ask of even the most calm of defenders.
A fraught half hour or so followed as WBA with crowd full of support bombarded the box in search of an equaliser. We managed to hold firm and the backslapping at the final whistle showed how important this game was.
Fabianski 6.5 – some good shot stops, but a bit weak on crosses and kicking was weak this afternoon.
Sagna 6.5 – crossing poor, slightly out of position when BFG forced to bring down Long
Koscielny – 8 solid performance
Mertesacker – 6.5 losing 1 point for not staying in his feet
Monreal 7 – starting to settle in PL
Arteta 7 – quiet and efficient performance
Ransey – 8 another solid showing and a goal sure to come soon
Rosicky – 8.5 MotM two goals, one goal line clearance.
Cazorla – 7.5 quieter day for the Spanish magician
Gervinho – 8 stretched WBA with his pace and movement
Giroud – 7 quiet day for the big man, worked hard as ever.
Gibbs – 7 steady
Vermaelen – 7.5 held firm for last thirty minutes
Coquelin – 6.5 quiet
Written by Gooner in Exile