Arsenal visited bottom of the table WBA looking for goals and points. Wenger made four changes after the lacklustre performance against Fulham. Out went van Persie, Vela and Diaby and Gallas was ruled out with an injury.
Things started well when Bendtner, the player who could not control a ball never mind score, picked the ball on the edge of the area, a couple of steps and he curled his shot past Carson’s far post.
We were on the road to scoring a hatful surely. West Brom replied in the seventh minute with a free that crept along the floor and should have been blocked by everyone’s favourite, Eboue, but he jumped over the ball.
Arshavin was asked to play up front behind Bendtner and he showed plenty of promise, he was knackered after 90 minutes on Saturday, the guy was made to play the full 90 again by Wenger, we will not see the best of Andrey until he is fully fit. It was from his well-floated free kick that Arsenal took the lead, when Toure met the ball to score. Minutes later, Toure was the provider as his long ball found Bendtner whose first touch was good but his finish was even better.
The second half could and should have resulted in Arsenal adding to their tally; Arshavin came close soon after the interval, Bendtner set up Arshavin inside the box but Carson tipped the shot past the post. Soon after Arshavin skill allowed him to create space and his shot was goal bound, but took a deflection to send it wide. Diaby almost scored but his shot also took a deflection.
Bendtner almost capped a perfect night with a hat-trick, but after some good work his shot hit the post. In the closing stages Bendtner, Arshavin and Sagna had near misses.
It was good to claim three points and to score goals. It was good to see Bendtner grow in confidence and start to play good football. The weaknesses were once again Song and Eboue, both of whom are looking less and less likely to make the grade at Arsenal as the weeks go on. Arshavin will receive no rest as he will be expected to play against Burnley. It was also good to see Merida make his league debut.
All we can do is win our games, put the pressure on Villa and make sure we are there, ready to pounce if they drop points.
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.
The season is about to start, hopes are high and anticipation is sky high. The hurt of last season’s collapse is still fresh in the minds of supporters. The summer transfers, both in and out, have not completely convinced the fans that the policy of bringing in younger players and allowing the experienced players to leave is the policy that will deliver the title. However, tomorrow will see the faithful pour into the Emirates, glued to the television screens and radios in hopeful anticipation of the start of a successful season.
The last two seasons have seen Arsenal start the campaign at home, on both occasions, we fell behind and spent the rest of the game trying to score a goal, and ensuring the opposition goalkeeper played the game of his life.
Tomorrow sees the visit of newly promoted West Bromwich Albion, the game will be no walk in the park, having studied past Arsenal performances Mowbray will pack his midfield and give instructions to his players to harass Arsenal, give them no time on the ball and to get physical. This is the way of the world against Arsenal, any other way and the opponents will be surrendering all three points.
The Arsenal line up will see two changes from the team that started against FC Twente, Kolo Toure will come in for Djourou, and Samir Nasri will make his debut on the wing in place of Eboue, who will partner Denilson in the midfield whilst Ramsey takes his place on the bench. With Fabregas, Diaby and Rosicky all out injured, Wenger cannot shuffle his midfield much.
The importance of playing Eboue in the midfield is that he will give us more grit in an area where the tackles will go flying in. Nasri and Walcott have major jobs to do, they will be the creative pairing on the wings, if they do not play well tomorrow, then it will be a long and hard game. Nasri will find this game a baptism of fire, but he must get into the groove straight away, we need to see his skills, pace and tricks tomorrow, we cannot wait 2-3 months.
and Clichy. We need Toure and Gallas to be solid as WBA will send plenty of aerial balls, thinking this is Arsenal’s weakness and Clichy must be alert at all times. A great player, but can fall asleep at vital moments. Clichy needs to be more incisive in his attack play tomorrow and it will be great to see the young Frenchman score his first goal for the club.
unscathed, which is a minor miracle. We know need to see Robin get back to his goal-scoring ways. His form is vital; he will link up with the midfield and play a Bergkamp style role for the team. Carlos Vela is likely to make his debut tomorrow coming off the bench.
In addition to Vela and Bendtner, Randall, Ramsey, Djourou, Gibbs, and Fabianski will be on the bench. If all goes to plan, Wenger will be able to give one of Randall, Ramsey, or Gibbs a taste of Premiership football.
If we play our passing game, create chances and good movement, then our strength and ability will be too much from the Baggies. We need to avoid the calamites of the last two starts, otherwise West Brom will “park the bus” in front of the goal. A good victory will be the ideal boost for fans and players, it will give us all the belief that we are capable of bringing hoem silverware this season.
Arsenal v WBA kick-off 12-45pm, LIVE on Sky Sports.