Arsenal 1-0 WBA – Match Report
A sun soaked Emirates greeted players and fans for the first game of the new season. As the faithful poured in, nobody knew what to expect. By the time the final whistle had been blown by Harold Webb, despite the victory, there were still many questions unanswered.
Wenger opted to keep Djourou in the team and dropped van Persie for Bendtner, whilst giving Samir Nasri his debut.
A new season brought a new hero; it took Samir Nasri 4 minutes to become the new pin-up boy of Arsenal. After great midfield play, Clichy threaded the ball through to Denilson who ran into the penalty area and cut the ball back for Nasri to score on his debut. So delighted were the players for the £12million summer signing that all the outfield players ran over to congratulate the France winger.
One nil to Arsenal after four minutes, a goal avalanche was expected, and soon after it almost was. Adebayor ran into the box, chipped the ball to the far post, Walcott’s header was cleared by a desperate West Brom defence. The fans rubbed their hands with glee in anticipation of more chances and more goals.
So much dominance did Arsenal have, that Gallas picked the ball in his own half and strode forward unhindered and unleashed a ferocious shot that had Carson scrambling and how relieved was the West Brom keeper to see the shot go inches wide of the post.
Arsenal had several more chances to extend the lead before the Baggies were able to break out of their half. The danger man for West Brom was Ishmail Millar who was a constant threat to the Arsenal defence; he used his pace and immense body strength to knock the Arsenal defenders aside on several occasions.
Half-time came and the fans knew that 1-0 was not enough, one set piece and West Brom will be back in the game. Samir Nasri was a constant threat, trickery, pace and excellent ball control set the young Frenchman apart from everyone else.
The second half started and Arsenal almost took the lead as Adebayor wasted one of several chances. Soon after West Brom almost equalised with their best chance, Millar evaded Gallas and with a one-on-one chance with Almunia, he managed to hit the ball straight to Almunia, the rebound fell to Robinson, whose shot was cleared off the line by Djourou who was have a great game. The nerves started to be felt by the fans, too often we have dominated games and too often we have dropped points, surely this was going to change?
A sense of urgency came across the players, Adebayor ran away from the Baggies defence, with Carson to beat, he curled the ball around the keeper, but unfortunately it was inches away from making it 2-0.
Wenger changed things sending van Persie for Bendtner. The Dane had performed admirably, but there were few chances fro him to show what he was capable of. Van Persie’s introduction saw Arsenal create more chances as West Brom pushed forward for the equaliser. Unfortunately, too many chances fell to Eboue, whose shooting is wayward to say the least.
On the 73rd minute Wenger brought on Toure for Walcott, who showed some glimpses of what he is capable of, but still needs to produce the goods over the course of 90 minutes. The decision to send on Toure to play on the right-wing was a strange one. Randall, Ramsey or Vela were more logical substitutes to fill this role, especially as Toure looked a bit slow.
Arsenal were holding on for the three points, when Adebayor ran past the defenders, crossed the ball to van Persie, with his back to the goal he swiveled around and poked the ball past Carson, goal though the fans, but yet again the ball was inches wide.
The game ended with Arsenal taking all three points and keeping a clean sheet.
The midfield combination of Denilson and Eboue worked against a mediocre team, thank goodness that Fabregas will be back for the Fulham encounter, whilst we should also have a new central midfielder by the time we play Bolton and Blackburn and Diaby should also be back in contention. Denilson played well and is determined to stake a claim to the central midfield berth vacated by Flamini. Eboue is Eboue, lost of energy but little end product.
Samir Nasri was sensational. Combining him and Fabregas will be tremendous. He is slight, but can withstand challenges, has plenty of trickery and is not afraid to shoot, a great signing, has already eclipsed Hleb.
Adebayor showed us a few signs of what he could do, but also too often he was caught offside and his touch let him down on too many occasions. Adebayor was subject to a few boos, but soon the fans got behind the Togolese striker.
The greatest cheer came when the stadium announcer called out Jack Wilshere’s name, an Arsenal legend waiting to be unleashed. Wenger must give the boys on the bench a run-out, rather than play Toure out of position.
The defence stood up well to the challenge of West Brom, but there will be sterner tests in the weeks to come. Djourou played well and given the chance could develop into a reliable centre back.
Line up – Almunia; Sagna, Djourou, Gallas, Clichy; Walcott (Toure -73), Denilson, Eboue, Nasri; Bendtner (van Persie-69), Adebayor – subs not used Fabianski, Randall, Ramsey, Wilshere, Vela.