It was job done at the Emirates this evening as Arsenal saw off West Bromwich Albion 2-0. This was a match the Gunners were expected to win, and they did. There’s not much more to take away from it than that.
Arsenal got an early wake-up call when Petr Čech tipped Jay Rodriguez’s shot onto the post and Jake Livermore missed an open net on the rebound. NBCSN’s studio analysts thought West Brom should have been awarded a penalty for Shkodran Mustafi’s slide. I think because Rodriguez was able to get up and get a shot away, the referee played advantage even though he didn’t signal it. What do you think?
The Gunners struck a few minutes later when Alexandre Lacazette nodded home the rebound from an Alexis Sánchez free kick. It was a pretty easy one for the Frenchman — he was the only player to follow the shot in. He becomes the first Arsenal player to score in his first three home Premier League matches.
Arsenal looked shaky defensively and West Brom had the better of the action for the rest of the first half. Rodriguez’s movement gave the back three fits, and he was able to create several chances. If not for a fantastic, athletic clearance off the line from Nacho Monreal, the sides would have been level at the break.
A brilliant bit of defending from Nacho Monreal! #ARSWBA pic.twitter.com/WcgPDPouh8— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) September 25, 2017
Arsenal came out much better in the second, controlling the ball, the pace of play, and not allowing West Brom to generate any scoring threat. The Gunners extended their lead to 2-0 on a calmly-taken Lacazette penalty. Aaron Ramsey won it, beating Allan Nyom around the corner. It was a close call but the correct one.
Mesut Özil and Olivier Giroud came on late for the Gunners and created a couple chances in their short cameos. It was good to see the German back in action - he’s been recovering from a small knee issue.
There were two changes to the Arsenal lineup today - Mohamed Elneny played next to Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey pushed into the attacking three. Both players were positive going forward. The Egyptian’s distribution/link-up play was strong and the Welshman’s movement created space. Wenger’s willingness to use Elneny in the Premier League is a great sign for Arsenal - it means Xhaka and Ramsey won’t have to play every match.
Lacazette looks to have settled into the Premier League. In addition to scoring both goals, he was involved in the attack and consistently found pockets of space between defenders to receive the ball and cause problems. He almost had a hat trick after making a difficult, over-the-shoulder control look easy, but he was unable to find the target with his off-balance volley.
And with that, the Gunners move up the early-season table. They are still behind their expected top-four competitors, but they are more-or-less keeping pace. Next up, a trip to Belarus for a Europa League match with BATE Borisov on Thursday.