Result: West Brom 0-4 Arsenal
Competition: Premier League
Date: 2 January 2021
Venue: The Hawthorns
Arsenal: Leno, Bellerin, Holding, Mari, Tierney, Xhaka, Ceballos, Saka, Smith Rowe, Aubameyang, Lacazette
Sub: Runarsson, Luiz, Maitland-Niles, Elneny, Willock, Willian, Pepe, Martinelli, Nketiah
Arsenal beat West Brom 4-0 at the Hawthorns to secure a third win in eight days to move up to 11th in the Premier League table.
Kieran Tierney scored an excellent solo effort to break the deadlock before Bukayo Saka finished off a fine team move to double the lead five minutes later.
Alex Lacazette put the result beyond doubt just past the hour-mark with a clinical brace to get our 2021 off to a fine start.
Mikel Arteta rewarded Alex Lacazette for scoring the winner against Brighton with restoration to the starting lineup. The Frenchman was handed the responsibility of leading the attack meaning Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, at the expense of Gabriel Martinelli, moved to the left flank. For the third game in a row, Emile Smith Rowe started in the number 10 role. Tucked behind him, Dani Ceballos replaced Mo Elneny as Granit Xhaka’s partner. David Luiz and Willian, both back from illness, took up places on the bench.
A match in the snow against a relegation-threatened Sam Allardyce side. It’s the plot of a movie you don’t really want to watch but you tune in hoping for a surprise.
The early signs were promising. Bellerin met a deep cross from Aubameyang on the run and tested keeper Johnstone with a low drive. Saka also tested the keeper after going head-to-head with O’Shea.
The England international continued to see lots of the ball. On 16 minutes, he cut in from the right onto his left foot and whipped a dangerous ball to the back post that Aubameyang came desperately close to meeting. He tried side same trick two minutes later and again had the home defence in a panic.
West Brom did threaten with a counter-attack that ended with Phillips stinging Leno’s palms, but we continued to dominate the ball. Eventually, Tierney took matters into his own hands.
Collecting the ball on the left flank, the Scot flicked the ball outside Furlong, went the long way round to collect the ball, doubled-back, cut inside the defender and with his right-foot curled a beauty into the top corner from just inside the corner of the box. It was the type of finish you’d expect of Aubameyang. An absolute beauty for just his second goal in red and white. (1-0)
As the snow started to settle, we doubled our lead. This time, it was all about the quality and drive of Smith Rowe. Picking the ball up just outside the box, the youngster played a delicious little pass around the corner to Saka and continued his run into the box. Lacazette found him behind the West Brom defence and he calmly rolled the ball across the six-yard box for Saka to tuck home. It was the type of goal we used to take for granted; quick passing, great movement and brilliantly incisive. (2-0)
Smith Rowe continued to pull the strings. A beautiful little pass to Lacazette saw the Frenchman, via a deflection, test Johnstone. From the resulting corner, Holding tested the keeper again with a header.
We really should have gone into the break with a three-goal advantage but Johnstone made a fine stop to deny Lacazette who’d wriggled clear of Ivanovic before lashing goalwards.
West Brom had the ball in the back of the net early – Diangana hammering home – but the flag went up to correctly rule Callum Robinson offside in the build-up.
After a scrappy 15 minutes, Lacazette, who’d missed an earlier chance, finally gave us some breathing room on the hour mark. The Frenchman slotted home his fouth goal in four games on the rebound after Smith Rowe had an effort saved by Ajayi on the line after the ex-Gunner had hit his own post trying to clear a Saka cross. (3-0)
The heads of the home side dropped and Lacazette, almost apologetically, helped himself to a second goal four minutes later connecting with a Tierney cross from underneath the crossbar. (4-0)
The chances kept coming for the Gunners. Willian came on for Saka and nearly set-up Aubameyang by shanking an effort into the striker’s path. The captain’s effort went over. Determined to get on the scoresheet, Auba put his head down and drove towards goal before unleashing another powerful left-foot shot that Johnstone did well to save at his near post.
Willock and Willian had further half-chances to extend our lead but in the end, we settled for four goals and, thanks to Leno’s stoppage-time save from Harper, a second clear sheet in a row.
The festive period has been kind to us. This result leaves the Gunners just three points off sixth-placed Chelsea and six points shy of the Champions League places. Our challenge is to keep the momentum going, next up we have three home games on the trot, starting with Newcastle in the FA Cup.