4 Talking Points From Arsenal’s 1-0 Win Over West Brom

By on May 5, 2014

Arsenal finished off their season at home with a 1-0 win over West Brom on Sunday afternoon. Here, Gunner333 brings us four talking points from the game.

Olivier_Giroud Arsenal

Arsenal welcomed the Baggies to the Emirates stadium in the penultimate game of the season, now knowing that Champion’s League football had been secured for a 17th consecutive year. Everton’s defeat at home to title challengers Manchester City on Saturday was enough to hand Arsenal the mathematical advantage and confirm the fourth-place finish ahead of the Toffees.

Despite the remaining two games looking seemingly redundant for Wenger’s side, they still exhibited a great desire to extend their points tally for the season, with some promising attacking play early on. A kind break of the ball into Santi Cazorla’s path lead to the Spaniard unleashing a decent effort, which was blocked by the stretched leg of Mulumbu.

Any remaining doubts that Arsenal would play in a subdued manor and take their foot off the pedal were clearly chalked out when Giroud found the net inside the opening quarter-of-an-hour. Such a rarity it is to see Arsenal converting from a set-piece, but the Frenchman was on hand to power home a header from Cazorla’s corner which put the Gunners 1-0 up.

From here Arsenal had a great strangle-hold of possession but yearned to do more with it. Although the hosts looked incredibly comfortably on the ball, Arsenal were reminded of the visitors’ involvement in the clash when Monreal’s mistake handed Berahino a golden chance, but the young forward’s attempt flew over the bar.

Much of the ball was in Arsenal’s hold once again in the second half, with the Baggies looking comfortable for the Gunners to stroke the ball around under the sun. Potentially a dangerous idea from West Brom, should they allow Wenger’s men to pick that telling pass.

Aside from Arsenal’s play, Pepe Mel’s side came a single pass away from taking advantage of a half chance presented by yet more poor defending from Nacho Monreal. A rash attempt at a challenge from the Spaniard supplying Stephane Sessegnon with pools of space, only for Sagna to come across and win the ball, preventing the former Sunderland man from picking out Berahino up-top.

After a succession of West Brom corners put Arsenal on the back foot, the home side forced two equally promising chances that could have put the game to bed. Özil firstly finding space in the area to hit an effort that trailed on wide of the far post, before the German knocked the ball across goal moments later. The ball deflected out off the leg of a West Brom defender, only for Özil’s counterpart Lukas Podolski to slice a half-volley off of the post.

No more to be said late on and the game finished at 1-0. Champions League football already previously secured, it was still a good sight for Arsenal fans to see their side secure it in their own vein with this victory.

I will now highlight four talking points from the game:

1) A Bit Too Open

It may be a result of tired end-of-season legs allied with little to play for, but it’s fair to say Arsenal did not look at their sharpest yesterday. Given the current circumstances it can be forgiven, but we must ensure it is only due to the above reasons and not a growing bad habit. We have been guilty of this in most of our slip-ups this season and it is where our weakness lays.

We will often gain and keep possession high up the field but once it is lost, we seem perfectly happy to leave it to our defence to deal with. If we can get Cazorla and Podolski to learn to track back, we do not deal so much pressure on both Sagna and Monreal, who are at risk of great mistakes when overloaded with an attacking threat.

2) Clean Sheet Correction

Contrasting perhaps with my last point slightly, our defence has looked a greater deal sharper this season, especially at home. A clean sheet is always vital and should be greatly appreciated no matter what team it comes against. They did muster up the odd promising chance and we needed to keep strong to deal with it.

Both Koscielny and Mertesacker have had remarkable seasons and their partnership at the back only continues to blossom. After our final league game against Norwich, we can reflect on a solid season at the back which has played a crucial part in our unbeaten home record since the opening day.

3) Olivier Hunger

At times this campaign, critics (and myself) have come down hard on Olivier Giroud for some sloppy displays in which he has shown little desire to get on the ball quickly. However, in the latter stages of the season and yesterday especially, his effort looks rectified and an improved hunger is emerging just as the season draws to a close.

He pounced on the chance to score yesterday and his touch was far more assured. One may ask why is his effort clearly increasing at the dying stages of the season and not earlier on? Perhaps he cannot play to his maximum when it really matters, whatever the reason we can be sure all will be revealed at Wembley in a couple of weeks time, providing of course Wenger does pick young Yaya Sanogo ahead of him.

4) European Exile Avoided

Amid the celebrations sparked by our success to qualify for Europe for the 17th consecutive season, my view is a little more ‘glass-half-empty’. I take pride in the fact we were able to avoid a humiliating 5th place finish given some of our dire showings in big games, not because we gained an expected fourth place. We spent more days at the top of the league than any other side this season, so perhaps this should even be viewed as a failure….

All I can say is that this was an adequate finish which can be papered over with if the boys can gain some silverware against Hull in the FA Cup final in a couple of weeks. If not, we are no better than the last two seasons, so something will have to give…

Thanks for reading and feel free to comment below.

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