Arsenal FC missed the opportunity to go top of the Premier League, falling to a 2-1 defeat to Tony Pulis’ West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns, with Santi Cazorla missing a great opportunity to salvage a point from the penalty spot
ArsA?ne Wenger refused to blame Spain international Santi Cazorla for his penalty miss, instead ruing a ‘nightmare’ afternoon for his side which saw them lose not only the match, but also midfielders Mikel Arteta and Francis Coquelin to injury.
The Gunners took the lead through Frenchman Olivier Giroud — Mesut zil picking up a seventh assist in as many games on the trot — but were pegged back almost immediately by West Brom, who equalised through James Morrison. The Baggies then scored the decisive goal before half-time, with Gunners’ skipper Mikel Arteta bundling the ball into his own net in the 40th minute.
Wenger unhappy with Arsenal FC defending
The Gunners’ boss refused to blame any one individual for the defeat, and insisted that he was happy with his players for giving everything they had till the final minute. The Frenchman did, however, lament the defending that led to the two West Brom goals.
Wenger is quoted by the Arsenal FC official website as saying: “It was a bad afternoon, we missed a penalty, we gave a goal away on set-piece, that is perfect to make your afternoon a nightmare and we missed open goal chances.
“I believe that West Brom they were strong in the fight and they had one 100 per cent commitment as well and you have to give them credit for that.
“But I cannot be mad at the team because they gave what they could until the last minute but we lost a bit of focus at 1-0 – at 35 minutes we were 1-0 up and then at 45 we were 2-1 down. Our defending on that level was very, very poor.”
Arteta and Coquelin add to the Gunners’ worries
Although the defeat was a blow for Arsenal FC, the injury to defensive midfielder Francis Coquelin was arguably cause for greater worry. Captain Mikel Arteta also had to be substituted due to a muscular issue, and the duo join a long list of injured players which includes the likes of Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey.
“We have two more injuries,” Wenger said. “One is a muscle problem for Arteta and the other one is a knee problem and I dona t know how serious that is but we will know certainly tomorrow, for Coquelin. Arteta is a calf.”
The Gunners drop to fourth in the league with the defeat, but remain within two points of the top spot with Manchester City losing at home to Liverpool FC later in the day. As such, the biggest worry will be Coquelin’s injury, given the Frenchman is absolutely vital to the team and Wenger doesn’t have any real replacements in that position with the exception of an ageing Mathieu Flamini.