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WBA v Arsenal: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

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wrapping up Arsenal's draw at the Hawthorns

Just saw footage of his first half
Just saw footage of his first half
Michael Regan

Arsenal's draw against West Bromwich Albion ended their away winning run, but it kept the Gunners unbeaten since the opening day of the season and top of the league entering a lengthy international break, which is never a bad thing. Here are some good things, some bad things and some downright ugly things.

The Good

  • Arsenal's response to going down 1-0. This was the first time Arsenal haven't taken the lead all season, and the team responded well. Nicolas Anelka had a good chance to make it 2-0, but after that, Arsenal created several good chances to equalise, and finally did. They could've won the game too, had Olivier Giroud been a little quicker, or had Lee Mason been a competent referee.
  • Wojciech Szczesny. Having said that above, Arsenal could have easily lost, but for Szczesny. His save from Berahino's deflected effort was simply excellent reflexes and movement of feet, and he once again commanded the penalty box.
  • Kieran Gibbs. Excellent, once again, with his form rewarded with an international call-up. If there's one complaint, he should've scored.
  • Mesut Özil. Even with a quiet game, the German still created 4 chances, and was integral in Arsenal's equalising goal, showing strength, desire, skill and intelligence. He's simply awesome.
  • Jack Wilshere's second half. Once Wilshere moved deeper, and to the right, he became far better. His pass for Giroud was simply outstanding. Oddly enough, when he stopped trying to dribble his way out of pressure--the thing that apparently means Arsenal should give him a free role--he was far better.

The Bad

  • Arsenal's width. Too narrow in the attacking third, Arsenal badly missed Theo Walcott or Lukas Podolski to stretch play. Even though both are not nominal wingers, they start their runs on the outside, meaning they create and exploit space. Perhaps Serge Gnabry should've come on towards the end of the match.
  • Mathieu Flamini getting on the end of Arsenal's chances. Too often, Flamini was the extra midfield runner, a consequence of having the Arteta-Flamini double pivot, and then losing Aaron Ramsey, who would usually make such runs. This match was the perfect example of why Wenger should usually play one of Arteta or Flamini.

The Ugly

  • Jack Wilshere's first half. Full of careless give-aways in possession, moaning at the referee, and at least one foul born out of frustration, a foul that, given Wilshere was late and high on Claudio Yacob, could've seen Arsenal go down to 10 on another day. The complete carelessness of Wilshere's first half is a major reason was one of the worst midfield performances in an Arsenal shirt; far worse than any of Aaron Ramsey's performances that saw him abused on Twitter.
  • Carl Jenkinson's marking of Claudio Yacob. Probably one of the first rules of defending is to not let the runner come across, and you don't jump. Yet Jenkinson failed to adhere to this rule, and Yacob put WBA 1-0 up. Bacary Sagna won't feel terribly under pressure.