Arsenal Premier League

‘Convincing’ Arsenal see off West Brom in four goal rout thanks to energetic youngsters

Any notion of the Big Six cartel being potentially dismantled this season were disabused in emphatic fashion on the opening two days of the New Year, with half of its members winning by an aggregate scoreline of 9-1. 

Manchester United’s entertaining win over Aston Villa and Spurs conquest of Leeds United was followed up by Arsenal‘s annihilation of West Brom on Saturday evening, powered by their young guns to swat aside Sam Allardyce’s struggling Albion by four goals to nil.

And yet it could have been so different for the men in blue and white barcode stripes had Matt Phillips made the most of an excellent chance in the first-half. A lofted ball from Matheus Pereira put the Englishman through, but his shot was straight at Bernd Leno. It went down as a ‘big chance’ by the statisticians, and the only real time they got behind the Gunners defence.

Moments later Kieran Tierney went on a marvellous solo run, jinking into the opposition box before unleashing a terrific strike into the far corner of Sam Johnstone’s net. Despite the snowy conditions, the Scot was dressed in his usual attire; short sleeves, shirt tucked into his shorts.

Others went the opposite route, wearing practically full body suits under their kits, but every Arsenal player was on fire regardless of the temperature at the Hawthorns. Just two minutes after Tierney’s stonker the side scored a lovely team goal reminiscent of a long-forgotten Arsenal. Alexandre Lacazette, Emile Smith-Rowe and, finally, Bukayo Saka combined wonderfully to pick apart a dumbfounded defence.

Allardyce has often been a pain in Arsenal’s backside in the past, but on this occasion it was far too easy to play through his team. West Brom had bodies behind the ball, but they were leaking chances like a sieve, conceding 11 chances by half-time. Equally, the visitor’s passing and movement was on point, particularly that of Smith-Rowe.

Almost immediately after the interval Callum Robinson had the ball in the net for the hosts, but it was ruled offside. Any hopes of getting back into the contest were firmly extinguished when Lacazette scored a brace in a four minute spell around the hour mark.

The North London outfit have now won three Premier League matches on the trot, a complete turnaround of their form that saw them go seven games without victory. Manager Mikel Arteta was naturally content with the result and the change in mentality of his side of late.

“A very convincing win, to win the last three games in the Christmas period is not easy,” Arteta told BT Sport. “When the conditions were better we played some good football. We had to manage some bits at the end because the pitch was difficult.

“I am so happy we were able to achieve the target we had, the table looks completely different, the energy is different and wins bring confidence.”

With this defeat West Brom became the first side to lose consecutive home Premier League games by at least four goals in each defeat since Wigan in August 2010.

For Big Sam this marked a new career low; with no club has the Dudley native won fewer points (1 – level with Crystal Palace) or conceded more goals (13) after his first four Premier League games in charge than he has with West Brom. Unsurprisingly this is where he focused his post-match comments on.

“We need to work out a way of not trying to be as sloppy as we have been at conceding goals. It appears when we try to open up we leave opportunities for the opposition and we cannot cope,” Allardyce told BT Sport.

“We got ourselves back in the game in the second half, scored a disallowed goal but put pressure on them then gave away one of the most bizarre goals for the third which killed our momentum. It was too much to try and climb 3-0 here.

“Three games in a short period of time has been the problem, the recovery time has been so difficult for the players and to get some real coaching in is almost impossible.

“That has taken its toll on the players. Most of the teams we will play against will be better than we are, we have to stick together, more determined and defend better.

“It is as simple as that. If we have to wait like we did against Liverpool, then it will have to be the way.”

The acid test for Allardyce and West Brom will come this month when the club bring in much-needed reinforcements in the winter transfer window, something the manager sees as vital to their chances of survival.

“We have to get a better player than we already have and see if that is available. The squad needs a boost and if I have ever saved a club from this position, and I have, it is because we have had the capabilities of bringing a player in in January.”

Arsenal, who now sit 11th in the table with 23 points after 17 matches, will be hoping this gives them the kickstart they need to challenge for European qualification.

Read: Arteta discusses why he really likes Arsenal talent Smith Rowe

See Also: Balon Drip: 15 of the finest football kits from 2020

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