Arsenal: Cech, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Elneny, Ramsey, Ozil, Alexis, Iwobi, Giroud
Subs: Ospina, Chambers, Gabriel, Walcott, Welbeck, Coquelin, Campbell
Two first half goals from Alexis Sanchez put Arsenal into third as they ran out 2-0 winners over West Brom at the Emirates this evening. Arsene Wenger made three changes to his team with Per Mertesacker, Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud returning in place of Gabriel, Francis Coquelin and Danny Welbeck.
The game kicked off with swathes of empty seats all around the ground , but those that stayed away missed an early Arsenal goal. Ramsey fed Alexis, he span the defender, took it on an cracked a low 25 yard shot in which left the keeper floundering. 1-0.
Mesut Ozil almost doubled the lead a couple of minutes later, but his shot – after good work from Iwobi and Monreal set him up – was blocked. Ramsey’s rebound volley from the edge of the box went wide.
The game settled down a bit after that, with not much in the way of chances for either side, although an Alexis flick allowed Hector Bellerin to drive into the box in the 24th minute and fire a shot not too far wide of the near post.
There was a 28th minute let-off when, from a corner, McAuley thumped a header off the crossbar with Cech rooted to the spot, and Bellerin again got into a good attacking position but skied his shot over the bar.
The young Spaniard was in the mood, getting in behind the defence again, slipped in by Ramsey. His low cross found Ozil, he took a shot which the keeper let slip between his legs, but it was cleared off the line. The clearance fell to Elneny who cracked a shot over.
The lead was doubled in the 38th minute when a positive run from Aaron Ramsey won a free kick on the edge of the box. Mertesacker and Giroud were on the end of the wall, Alexis hit it towards them, they got out of the way and the ball curled past Foster who had no chance. 2-0.
Unlike the West Ham game, there were no slip-ups before the end of the first period, and we took that two goal lead into the break.
Tony Pulis did make two half-time changes bringing on Rondon and Olsson for two people I don’t care about one way or the other so I can’t be arsed remembering who they were. It meant a change of formation too with the visitors playing two up top.
Nice work from Iwobi ended up with Giroud getting a shot on target, but nothing that troubled the keeper. James McClean’s header was easy for Cech, and alert defending from Ramsey denied Sessegnon a shot on goal as West Brom sought a way back into the game.
Alex Iwobi went down in the box but after his last game, referee Jon Moss would need to see a player beheaded then his corpse violated before he gave a penalty, so he waved play on. There was another shout moments later when Elneny appeared to be pushed in the back but again there was no penalty from the referee.
Gardener replaced McClean for the visitors, before Ozil had two sights of goal, one saved and one deflected over the bar. Giroud set up Iwobi for a shot which flew straight into the keeper’s arms, and another lovely move saw the French striker frustrated when Ramsey slipped as he made a cross which should have given him a good chance of scoring.
There was danger from a West Brom corner when Cech came and missed, the ball found its way to Rondon at the back post but he couldn’t make any kind of attacking contact.
Iwobi and Bellerin showed their relative rawness with some indecision in the final third, before Arsene Wenger made his first change, bringing on Francis Coquelin for the 19 year old forward.
There were two more changes quickly, with Walcott and Campbell coming on for Alexis and Ozil, and the Costa Rican almost made an immediate impact, firing a shot just wide after being set up by Ramsey. Giroud saw a shot rebound off the keeper’s face after more nice build up, and another effort poked wide after a one-two with Campbell.
In the end though, a relatively comfortable win, and we go into third ahead of Sunday’s trip to Sunderland.