Sunday, March 29, 2009

Arsenal push away scoring woes with another win

Who said Arsenal cannot score?? They can, with style and when required !!!

That is exactly what happenend against Newcastle. The Arsenal side, rejuvinated by comebacks were given an early blow when they realised Walcott would be out for the month. So Wenger made some change and brought in Diaby.

Arshavin made a lot of difference in the first half, but Arsenal could not take their opportunities and missed really good chances. But relegation threatened Newcastle had a wonderful chance when Almunia pushed Martins in the box to gift them a penalty. But he held his nerve as Martins pushed the ball weakly to Almunia's left and the Spanish goalkeeper made an easy save. Other than that Newcastle were fairly quiet. But Nasri's unlucky misses and van Persie's dreadful finishes kept the score level at half time.

But the match sprung into life in the second half. Arshavin took a brilliant freekick and singled out Bendtner who took his chance to head it past Harper to give the Gunners the lead. But barely half a minute later, Newcastle attacked, and Martins took advantage of a Gallas error to frce the ball past a stunned Almunia.

But Arsenal werent done yet. Steven Taylor had been the mainstay of the Magpies defence and had denied the Gunners any goals. When he went off injured, Diaby took his chance by playing a one two with Persie by finding the space required and slotting the ball above Harper. Nasri made it 3-1 when his brilliant quick finish went beyond Harper.

All in All Arsenal played brilliant and we deserved our win!!!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Reds thump Red devils at Old Trafford

Liverpool's title dream is still alive after they came from behind to thump Manchester United 4-1 at Old Trafford on Saturday lunchtime.
Fernando Torres cancelled out a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty before Steven Gerrard completed a remarkable turnaround with his own spot-kick just before the break. A sublime free-kick from Fabio Aurelio following the dismissal of Nemanja Vidic wrapped up the points before a late lob from Andrea Dossena put the gloss on a week that has had many Kopites pinching themselves. The result leaves Liverpool four points behind United, who have a game in hand, with nine fixtures remaining. It also ensures a first league double over our arch-rivals since 2001-02. Rafa Benitez will accept the title is still a tall order, but wherever the Premier League trophy ends up, this performance and scoreline will go down as one of the highlights of the Spaniard's reign. Benitez went searching for his 100th league win as Reds boss without the injured Xabi Alonso. If Javier Mascherano is Liverpool's engine in midfield, then Alonso is the oil that keeps everything flowing nicely. Still, his absence gave Lucas a chance to shine on the biggest stage, and the Brazilian will have won over some of his critics with a rudimentary but effective display. Another blow came during the warm up when right-back Alvaro Arbeloa injured his hamstring, forcing Sami Hyypia to tie his boots at the last minute. The sides set about a cagey start at a wind-swept Old Trafford. United were first to threaten when Ronaldo cut back to the oncoming Ji-Sung Park. The goal gaped and it took a well-judged deflection from Carragher to clear for a corner. Similar heroics were required from Vidic after Aurelio sent Gerrard bursting into the United box on 11 minutes. You could have prepared and swallowed a prawn sandwich in the time it took either side to enthuse their fans again when Torres turned Rio Ferdinand on a sixpence before Vidic saved his partner's blushes. The game of cat and mouse was finally broken on 23 minutes when Park sprinted into the box and navigated Pepe Reina, who caught a trailing leg and gave referee Alan Wiley no option but to award a spot-kick. Liverpool's Spanish goalkeeper went the right way but Ronaldo's penalty was too precise. The travelling Kop's deflation lasted just four minutes, however, thanks to a downfield pass from Martin Skrtel which left Torres with just Vidic and van der Saar to beat. United's Serbian defender lost his footing, leaving El Nino to slot coolly beyond the goalkeeper to claim his 11th goal of the season. Minutes later Torres nutmegged Vidic in the box as he searched for a second but it was cleared for a corner. The next goal would be crucial and both sides knew it. United came close through a Ronaldo dead ball which Reina spilled only to recover just before Park pounced. Next, Michael Carrick turned Lucas before firing a fierce effort narrowly over the crossbar. But it was Liverpool who eventually turned the game on its head when Gerrard burst past Patrice Evra to catch a Torres throughball. The full-back challenged clumsily, prompting Wiley to point to the spot for a second time. Gerrard once had a penalty saved by van der Saar when the Dutchman wore Fulham colours, but he made no mistake with this one before kissing the television cameras in celebration of his 18th goal of the campaign. United came out for the second period eager to respond, and almost had a huge slice of luck when a Ronaldo cross swerved onto Reina's post and back into play. Liverpool cleared but it was a warning. Park was impressing down the right as the hosts responded to chants of 'attack, attack, attack' from their fans, and the former PSV man would have been one-on-one with Reina on 53 minutes but for a smart interception from Aurelio. Reina had to be alert to palm over after Tevez squeezed a cross-cum-shot past Carragher. Liverpool's custodian fumbled the resulting corner but claimed well at the second attempt under pressure from Tevez. Wayne Rooney tried to twist and turn his way to an equaliser on 62 minutes only to have his shot deflected wide by Dirk Kuyt. The pressure continued. Next, Ronaldo, patrolled well all game by Aurelio, beat his man to find Rooney at the far post. The Scouser headed back across goal and it took some resilient defending from Skrtel to stop Tevez threatening. The Argentine should have levelled the game on 72 minutes after chesting down a lofted ball from Ferdinand. Liverpool's defence protested for offside but the flag stayed down. With just Reina to beat, Tevez scuffed his shot and the ball roll harmlessly wide. Alex Ferguson had seen enough. With 16 minutes remaining, he made a triple substitution, replacing Carrick, Anderson and Park with Paul Scholes, Dimitar Berbatov and Ryan Giggs. It was a bold move from the Scot but it soon backfired following the dismissal of Vidic. Wiley had no choice but to show the Serb red after a lovely touch from Kuyt sent Gerrard clean through. Last man Vidic interjected and United were down to 10 men with 14 minutes left on the clock and no opportunity to make a change. Any hopes of a comeback were then dashed completely when Aurelio curled the resulting free-kick beyond van der Saar at the Stretford End. Ronaldo would have been proud. Gerrard could have made it four with the kind of chance he normally buries but it mattered not. Substitute Andrea Dossena showed the skipper how it was done on 90 minutes, lobbing van der Saar after a Reina punt. "We want five," sang the cluster of Liverpool fans at the opposite end of the ground. They know the title is still a long shot, but this result keeps United looking over their shoulder. Whatever happens come May, they'll never forget today.

Arshavin works his magic as the Gunners thrash dirty Blackburn

Andrey Arshavin opened his Arsenal account in a wonderful fashion as Arsenal beat Blackburn 4-0 and moved into fourth place in the Premier League.The little Russian was credited with the opening goal after just 80 seconds. But replays proved that Theo Walcott’s low cross went in off Andre Ooijer’s back.Arsenal dominated after that. However they were in danger of fluffing their lines once more. They created a host chances and missed them all, with Nicklas Bendtner particularly profligate.But Arshavin dribbled past Danny Simpson to steer home a super solo goal in the 65th minute. The 25-year-old then set up Emmanuel Eboue for a tap-in two minutes from time.The Ivorian only spent seven minutes on the pitch and would have an incident-packed cameo. In injury time, Carlos Vela was felled in the area and Eboue tucked away an excellent penalty.Arsenal’s elevation into the top four may last less than 24 hours. But it places a little extra pressure on Aston Villa, who entertain Tottenham on Sunday.But whatever the result, the Midlanders will be well aware that Wenger’s side are starting to get back to their regal best.And Arshavin is undoubtedly the jewel in the crown.This was the second of the three games in three different competitions over the course of six days. Therefore changes were expected in the Arsenal side. In all there were four. William Gallas, Abou Diaby, Robin van Persie and Eboue dropped out. Johan Djourou, Alex Song, Arshavin and, making his first start in four months, Walcott came in. While Arsenal had been winning at Roma on Wednesday, Blackburn had gone a long way to securing their Premier League survival with a 2-1 comeback victory at Fulham. Despite that, their team selection suggested they would be delighted with a point at Emirates this afternoon. Jason Roberts was employed as sole striker ahead of a five-man midfield. Arsenal would need to use craft AND graft today.There was a good feeling swilling around Emirates Stadium before kick-off. It was not just the success in Italy in the week it was Liverpool’s crushing win at Manchester United an hour or so before kick-off. Not that the result had a major effect on Arsenal, whose sole Premier League aim was a top four spot. With that in mind, victory was essential today. Previous home draws had not been punished because Aston Villa were wobbling themselves. But, with games running out, Arsenal had to stake their claim.The time was now and, for once, they would get a little help.Having gone goalless in the last three Premier League games at Emirates Stadium, you sort of suspected an early goal might come this afternoon. It took just 80 seconds.Bendtner showed excellent feet in midfield to send Walcott haring down the right-hand channel. The England winger cut the ball back into a ruck of players at the near post. Arshavin was prominent and was credited with the goal initially. However he ran off wagging his finger in denial, replays proved the final touch had come off the sliding Ooijer.It was the just the boost Arsenal required. As at the Stadio Olimpico, fortunate things were coming on the back of hard work and quality. They looked to profit immediately.Bendtner shot straight at Paul Robinson and then Arsenal had a shout for a penalty when Stephen Warnock barged over Walcott as he went through. It was all Arsenal with Bendtner the lynch-pin. But after El-Hadji Diouf was booked for a nasty looking challenge on Almunia, the visitors started to develop their game. And, in the 25th minute, Morten Gamst Pedersen climbed above Sagna to meet Djourou’s attempted clearance. His header forced Almunia into a desperate, backtracking tip over the bar.However Blackburn’s rally would be brief. Sagna’s swirling, curling cross was nodded across goal by Bendtner. Then, nine minutes before the break, Nasri planted a 25-yard free-kick against the bar. The ball was hacked clear by the Blackburn defence and Bendtner’s touch allowed Nasri to fire goalward from 12 yards. Robinson’s block was enough to turn the ball behind but it was hardly convincing.It was hard to think this Arsenal side had been scoreless at both ends for so long. While Wenger’s side were impish and inventive going forward they were hardly watertight in defence. Five minutes from half time an unmarked Aaron Mokoena swept the ball just over the bar from Pedersen’s corner.Blackburn pushed forward in the dying seconds but their attack this afternoon was more cudgel than rapier. The nearest they came to breaching the Arsenal defence came in injury time when Almunia had to rush out and deny Pedersen.The home side could have banished any such nervousness in the opening minutes of the second half if they had converted a couple of straightforward chances.First Bendtner fed Walcott but the midfielder, 20 on Monday, dragged his effort wide. He returned the favour for an even simpler chance seconds later but the Dane sidefooted wide.Before five minutes were up Robinson had saved well from Walcott and Denilson had seen a ferocious drive blocked by Ooijer.Arsenal were stoking up the heat on Blackburn with all the chances seemingly falling to Bendtner. He nodded over just before the hour, fired wide just after and then, most profligate of all, dallied when sent clear by Walcott allowing Robinson to save.Frustration was starting to simmer but Arshavin’s smashing strike relieved all the pressure. When he received the ball on the left in the 65th minute there was little on but he skipped past Danny Simpson on the byline and then, from the tightest of angles, lifted the ball over Robinson and into the far corner. This one was definitely his.Djourou nodded over from Nasri’s right-wing free-kick as Arsenal looked for a killer third. At the other end, Almunia clutched a low free-kick from Pedersen. The Spaniard’s handling has been immaculate since the turn of the year.Bendtner’s work was nearly done but, just before he was substituted in the 80th minute, the Dane ended a trademark Arsenal break by thumping a shot high over the bar.It had been a tough afternoon for the 21-year-old. He worked wonderfully hard for the cause but had missed a host of chances. Emirates was rightly generous in its support as he went off.With seven minutes left Wenger brought on Eboue for Nasri. It would turn out to be an influential move. The Ivorian touched home in the 88th minute after Arshavin’ shot was parried by Robinson. Then, in injury time, Vela was clipped by Martin Olsson and Eboue scored confidently from the spot.It was perhaps apt that Arsenal should end this game by converting a penalty. Reaching the last eight in Europe is season's one ambition achieved. If they can stay in the top four, that will be another. Arsenal’s season is ending on a high.

Arsenal edge past Roma to become the 4th English team in the last eight

Arsenal are into the Champions League Quarter-Finals after an incredible night of drama at the Stadio Olimipcio.
Juan’s early goal cancelled out the advantage Arsène Wenger’s side had gained in the first leg. The rest of normal time and extra time remained goalless so this nervous but entertaining tie went to penalties.
Eduardo missed the first of the shoot-out but later on Manuel Almunia saved from Mario Vucinic to level up the scores. The crucial miss at 7-6 in sudden death came when Max Tonetto blazed high over the bar.
Arsenal march on. And hopefully their smattering of good fortune tonight will help them return to Rome for the Champions League Final in May.
At his press conference on Tuesday morning, Wenger said he had a decision to make over a couple of positions. In the end, he stuck with side that had won 1-0 in the first leg at fortnight ago. It was 4-2-3-1, now the standard in Europe it seems, with Van Persie supported by a triumvirate of Samir Nasri, Emmanuel Eboue and Nicklas Bendtner. Behind them, Abou Diaby and Denilson protected a back four that was reinforced by the return of Kolo Toure after a calf injury.
There had been rumours abound over Roma’s absences. Cicinho (knee), Daniele de Rossi (suspension) and Marco Cassetti were certainly out. There were suggestions that Francesco Totti, David Pizarro, Doni, Philippe Mexes and Alberto Aquilani and Mirko Vucinic were all struggling.
In the end only Mexes missed the game.
The Stadio Olimpico was everything you would expect at kick-off. Loud, colourful, intimidating. Arsenal had history on this ground – a superb 3-1 win against Roma in 2002 and a highly-creditable 1-1 draw with Lazio in 2000. But that would be worth nothing this evening.
It was as if the home fans were trying to prove definitively that the concept of the ‘12th man’ is true. The pre-mach perception was that the injury-hit home side would need the help. However it did not turn out that way.
Roma were the better side in the first 20 minutes. They were crisp and persistent in their tackling. They closed down the Arsenal defenders and forced them into nervous mistakes.
John-Arne Riise’s blocked shot was Roma’s first sight of goal. In the ninth minute they would score and it was a horrible goal for Arsenal to concede.
Francesco Totti’s low cross in from the right bobbled between Toure and Gallas, through the legs of Rodrigo Taddei to Juan at the far post. If the Brazilian was surprised to get the ball it did not show. He kept his cool as the Arsenal defence scrambled back and slammed home from close range.
It was the lead on the night and leveller in the tie. Roma players and fans celebrated accordingly.
At the same time, the goal was a pin in the bubble of self-belief Arsenal had built up in their 17-game unbeaten run. Now they had to guard against deflation.
Gallas did loop a header into Doni’s hands but the home side now saw their chance.
In the 22nd minute Motta drove forward in the right-hand channel and forced a strong-handed block by Almunia at the near post. The Italian raced to the byline and scooped the ball back into the centre of the goal just before it crossed the line. It came out to Taddei, whose low cross-shot was tipped around the far post by Almunia. The keeper had recovered his ground with alacrity.
Around the half-hour, Arsenal did start to find their feet. And they came closest to scoring when Gael Clichy swirling left-wing cross found Diaby’s head. The Frenchman’s effort had power but was directed straight at Doni, who gathered with relative ease.
Van Persie nodded over and Eboue hacked horribly wide. Neither chance was ever going in but it was testament to the fact that Arsenal were on the offensive.
However, a minute before the break, came a crucial moment. Gallas lost the ball venturing too far forward and Totti’s chip sent Motta sprinting clear on the right with Clichy in pursuit. The two defenders ended up a heap in the area and Roma seemed convinced it was a penalty. Referee Manuel Gonzalez waved play on.
The Spanish official was given the benefit of the home fans’ opinion as he walked off Arsenal needed half-time. They had been second-best and wise words for Wenger were required.
Although Roma started the second period quickly with substitute Julio Baptista nodding wide and Riise firing in a free-kick, the visitors were making matters more even.
Toure’s drive was deflected wide and, from the corner, Bacary Sagna powered a header straight at Doni.
Diaby and Eboue were inches away from providing defence-splitting passes to Van Persie and Bendtner respectively.
But, at the other end, Totti was starting to do what Totti does. He found intelligent space just outside the area and went close with a couple of drives from distance – one flew wide of Almunia’s post, the other into his chest.
The game was a real cup-tie now. There was little containment in midfield as both sides went for the crucial next goal.
In the 64th minute, Nasri’s corner was punched clear to Diaby who weaved himself some space on the edge of the area and poked an effort just wide.
However Arsenal could not maintain their momentum and, as a result, Wenger withdrew Eboue for Walcott 10 minutes later. It added pace and urgency to Arsenal but it was Roma who would forge the real tie-killing chance before the end.
In the 79th minute, Taddei stormed down the right and Totti touched his low cross to the unmarked Baptista 10 yards out. All the sliding Brazilian had to do was guide the ball home but it hit the outside of his foot and flew wide.
A massive let-off for Arsenal.
Extra-time was now looming and so Wenger made another change – Eduardo for Bendtner. The Croatian was quickly involved and helped the visitors create a couple of decent chances just before the end of normal time.
First Van Persie bobbled a deflected shot just wide from the edge of the box. The corner found Walcott on the left, his deep cross was nodded back into the six-yard box by Van Persie and Toure heaved a header over the bar from a few feet out.
The Ivorian lay disappointed on the grass for a few seconds then sprang up, dusted himself down and raced back to his position.
He had 30 more minutes of work to do.
Extra-time is often a disappointment these days. By this point, both sides are all too aware of what they have to lose.
That seemed the mentality this evening. Roma had pressure in the first period of extra-time but the best chance came in the 100th minute when Denilson bustled through on the right of the area and Van Persie hoiked the Brazilian’s cross over the bar.
Walcott tested Doni early in the second period but, in the 114th minute, it took a superbly timed challenge from Toure to dispossess Baptista as he bore down on goal.
However the side could not be divided in three and an half hours of football. So the tie would be decided from 12 yards.
Eduardo took the first for Arsenal and Doni saved low to his right. Pizarro then scored to give Roma the advantage. Van Persie’s coolly converted then Almunia saved easily from Mario Vucinic’s cheeky effort to level matters at 2-2. Walcott just managed to squirm his shot through Doni’s fingers and Baptista blasted a thunderbolt into the top of the net.
Nasri’s effort was placed to the keeper’s left and Vincenzo Montella almost skipped his effort in to the corner for 3-3.
It was now effectively sudden death. Denilson rattled his penalty straight down the middle and it was left to Totti to complete the first five apiece. He did so with aplomb.
Toure took a long run up and then sidefooted home Aquilani response was impish and accurate – 5-5.
Sagna opted for a short run and stroked the ball in the corner. Riise just squeezed his left-foot drive past Almunia’s outstretched left-hand - 6-6.
Diaby scored with nonchalance and it was Tonetto who fired over the bar.
Wenger’s men had kept their nerve with an excellent set of penalties. It had been two well-matched sides in an incredibly tense tie but Arsenal were through.

Arsenal advance in the FA Cup

Arsenal had to play Burnley in the 5th round of the Fa cup, the team that had beaten them hollow in the Carling cup, so for the Gunners it was a revenge mission.
Eduardo returned to the squad, and Walcott was on the bench.
Arsenal started a massive week with a near-perfect victory against Burnley on Sunday.Arsène Wenger’s side cruised into the FA Cup Quarter-Finals with exquisite goals from Carlos Vela and Eduardo plus a confidence-boosting strike from Emmanuel Eboue six minutes from full time.

Arsenal have now gone 17 games without defeat and it showed quite clearly this afternoon. Burnley are one of the best sides in the Championship but they were utterly outclassed in this entertaining tie.A goal of genius by Eduardo suggested that the Croatian has lost nothing of his poaching precision. Wenger was also boosted by the return of Theo Walcott after four months out with a shoulder injury.It was wonderful preparation for the crucial Champions League tie at Roma on Wednesday. Arsenal now face Hull in the last eight of the FA Cup on March 17/18. Wenger retained only five players from the midweek win at West Brom – Bacary Sagna, Alex Song, Johan Djourou, Andrey Arshavin and Emmanuel Eboue.Eduardo returned as captain for only his second game in over a year. He had hurt his hamstring making that remarkable goal-scoring comeback in the last round against Cardiff on February 16. Vela was brought in to partner the 25-year-old this afternoon with Arshavin stationed wide on the left. The other four recruits into the side were a mixture of experience and the youth Wenger has consistently fielded in the FA Cup this year – Lukas Fabianski, Kieran Gibbs, Abou Diaby and William Gallas. The last of those was returning after an ankle injury.However Walcott was forced to wait a little longer for his comeback after a shoulder problem. The England midfielder was on the bench. The 19-year-old’s last appearance for Arsenal had been the 2-0 defeat to Aston Villa on November 15. That had been a low point of the season.

But you felt that the return of Eduardo and Walcott, plus the impending comebacks of Cesc Fabregas, Emmanuel Adebayor and Tomas Rosicky, would make Arsenal a stronger proposition as the end of the season approached.Not that Wenger could look that far ahead this afternoon. Roared on by 5,000 ebullient fans, Burnley were always going to be a difficult proposition at the start of this game.They had form on Arsenal of course. Owen Coyle’s doughty side had seen off Wenger’s youngsters in the Carling Cup Quarter-Finals.But, in the end, it was the home side who would make the most of the opening 15 minutes.

Eboue had a glimpse of an opening on the left of the area before being dispossessed by a thunderous challenge from Steven Caldwell. Then a cross-cum-shot by Sagna had Jensen scrambling back only to see the ball drift over the bar. And finally Gibbs hammered a low shot just wide.However Burnley were far from overawed and, in Chris Eagles, they had a tricky dribbler capable of causing problems down either flank.But you sensed Arsenal were biding their time and waiting for opportunity to knock.They got the call in the 25th minute. Arshavin won the ball on the left and tapped an angled pass to Vela just inside the Burnley half. The Mexican allowed the ball to run across his body, nutmegged Clarke Carlisle and, despite Joey Gudjonsson tugging at his shirt, managed to sprint clear before clipping the ball over Jensen.It was a class finish – a mixture of vision, tenacity, speed and skill. It was also his fifth goal of the season – already a decent return for a rookie striker who has been in and out of the side.The goal – and a deluge of rain – dampened Burnley’s spirits.

Arsenal were now in their pomp, playing with the self-assurance of a side who seemed to be putting some of their troubles behind them.They peppered the Burnley area with demanding crosses as half time approached. However it was the visitors who nearly profited from a ball into the box when Diaby diverted Robbie Blake’s corner away from the leaping Fabianski.Seconds later, Eduardo’s backheel put Eboue clear but the Ivorian’s low shot was turned aside by Jensen. If Arsenal had been cruising before half time their second goal in the 51st minute merely plumped their cushion of confidence.

And, while Vela’s goal had been excellent, the effort summoned up by Eduardo managed to eclipse it. Gibbs fed Song on the left and he floated a cross towards the Croatian at the far post. The 25-year-old ghosted away from his marker effectively but the ball was slightly behind him. However, with brilliant improvisation, he flicked the ball into the top corner with the outside of his foot.It was the work of a master craftsman.Wenger clearly thought the goal had beaten Burnley. Immediately, Vela made way for Robin van Persie. Soon afterwards, Aaron Ramsey and Walcott come on for Diaby and Eduardo. In between those substitutions, Blake nearly put in substitute Wade Elliot. It was Burnley’s last throw of the dice.Walcott almost squeezed a shot past Jensen with 13 minutes left as the home started to profit on the break. The 19-year-old then crossed high for Van Persie but the Dutchman miscued his volley. The pair did combine to put the ball in the net with eight minutes left but were pulled back for offside. Wrongly replays suggested.

The respite was brief.In the 84th minute, Song’s backheel sent Eboue through in the right-hand channel and he smashed home a low shot into the far corner. The pair celebrated with an impromptu dance next to the nearest corner flag.Yes, Caldwell hit the bar at the death and Burnley had claims for a penalty.But, after performance like this, most of the Arsenal fans will have left Emirates this afternoon with a similar spring in their step.

Arsenal beat WBA to get back to winning ways

Arsenal went into this game with a 4 match 0-0 streak, with their next year’s Champions League place at stake. Aston Villa were slipping away, though the young team had lost their sheen. Wba, on the other hand, had a 2 match winning streak that had seen them fight back from the bottom of the table.
Wenger started with highly criticized Bendtner, and Arshavin as secondary striker. They started brightly, passing and popping the ball around, and were rewarded right away as a poor Nasri freekick was badly cleared and Denilson teed Bendnter up on the right. A beautiful low shot from Bendtner on the right slid under Scott Carson and curled wonderfully into the net in only the 4th minute.
But they gave away a freekick and Chris Brunt smashed the ball through the defensive wall well past Almunia, who conceded his first goal in 8 games.
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 the 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 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.Arsenal were almost caught out on the break with 17 minutes left. Marc-Antoine Fortune broke clear on the right but Almunia tipped his angled drive round the post. It was a brief respite for Albion. Bacary Sagna fired over the bar and Bendtner followed suit as time ticked down. Then 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.