Arsenal ended a battling outing in frustrating fashion as they were held to a 1-1 draw by West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns on Sunday
The visitors grabbed the better of the chances either side of half-time, with Alexandre Lacazette and Alex Iwobi coming the closest to finding the back of the net. But, they couldn’t find a way past Ben Foster, who stood strong between the sticks for West Brom, for whom Jay Rodriguez had the strongest of chances.
The Baggies’ resistance was finally broken with seven minutes to go in regulation time as Alexis Sanchez saw his free-kick being deflected off James McClean and past a helpless West Brom goalkeeper.
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) December 31, 2017
The Chilean might just have scored the winner in an away game for Arsenal for the second time in four days, if not for Mike Dean. Controversy struck in the dying stages of regulation time as the match official awarded West Brom a penalty when Kieran Gibbs’ cross touched Calum Chambers arm, which was arguably in a natural position.
In the end, the decision stood, with Jay Rodriguez converting from the spot to see his side steal a point out of nothing. As a result, Arsene Wenger’s record 812th Premier League game ended in disappointing fashion, with his side falling three points behind Liverpool. The Hard Tackle now takes a look at the players’ performance.
Petr Cech: 7/10
Largely unchallenged over the ninety minutes, Cech had to deal with crosses coming into his box, which he did with ease. He did make a save to deny Jay Rodriguez in the second half, but that was just about it.
Petr Cech is absolutley right here about Mike Dean being showing no respect after being wrong pic.twitter.com/v7vTLZQ1JU
— M1Ö (@MesutOzilClass) December 31, 2017
The veteran goalkeeper couldn’t have done much to save the penalty, he can’t seem to save one in Arsenal colours anyway. It wasn’t even a penalty to begin with, and Cech made his feelings known in an explosive post-match interview.
Laurent Koscielny: 6/10
The Arsenal skipper was much improved on Sunday, although the evening became increasingly uneasy for him as it progressed, until he couldn’t take it anymore. Koscielny was ultimately taken off for Per Mertesacker and more worryingly for Wenger, his participation against Chelsea is now in doubt.
Shkodran Mustafi: 7/10
The German defender seems to be at home at the heart of a back-three instead of the left or right. On Sunday, Mustafi marshalled the back-line smartly, keeping things organised against the hosts, who looked to primarily attack through crosses. A key player for Wenger.
Calum Chambers: 7/10
Making a second successive Premier League start, Chambers looked at ease, negating the threat of Jay Rodriguez smartly, which he should hand him some extra credit, with Hector Bellerin providing little support. His distribution was solid as ever, making him an asset in the system.
— afcstuff (@afcstuff) December 31, 2017
But, the youngster’s night ended in disappointment as he was harshly adjudged to have handled the ball, and quite harshly so. He was not at blame for the penalty though, and must hold his head high despite two points being dropped.
Hector Bellerin: 5/10
Bellerin is one of those players who hasn’t been firing consistently of late, and on either end of the pitch. Sunday’s outing was a mellow one for the Spaniard, who was sloppy and wasteful going forward, while being anonymous defensively.
His numbers leave a lot to be desired, with the player not winning any tackles or interceptions, while making just a couple of clearances. Quite concerning, especially because Wenger does not have a viable backup for the player.
Jack Wilshere: 7/10
— afcstuff (@afcstuff) December 31, 2017
The brightest of all the Arsenal players who made forward forays on Sunday. Wilshere looked the most likely to create the game changing chance for his side, but as the game wore on, it looked like he was starting to show the effects of playing three times within a week.
Granit Xhaka: 6/10
Xhaka continued from where he had left off against Crystal Palace, providing Arsenal a sense of control from midfield. The Swiss midfielder was dispossessed just once on the night, although one thing he must improve is the tempo with which he circulates the ball. Nevertheless, he seems to be improving with each outing.
Sead Kolasinac: 5/10
Starts have already been hard to come by lately for Kolasinac, and he could now be on the sidelines to make it worse. On Sunday, the Bosnian’s outing lasted a little over half an hour, with the player being taken off after picking up an ankle injury. One would hope Ainsley Maitland-Niles continues his advent, should Kolasinac be absent for a long time.
Alex Iwobi: 5/10
Things don’t seem to be improving much for Iwobi, who can’t seem to affect games much on the right side of attack, regardless of the formation employed by Wenger. On Sunday, he did muster up two shots, but that was about it, with the Nigerian being anonymous otherwise. With no consistent alternative, his poor form would be a concern for the Arsenal boss.
Alexis Sanchez: 7/10
Alexis Sánchez vs West Brom A
3 dribbles completed
3 chances created
1 deflected free kick goal
Game winner robbed by a shambolic referee decision. pic.twitter.com/PpWXe2gU9X
— 7 (@drinalexis) December 31, 2017
He may have been accused of not playing for the shirt for the most part this season, but on Sunday, Sanchez tried his heart out, with just about everything going through him. There was one drawback in his performance though, was that he was not enjoying quite the same understanding with his teammates like he does with Mesut Ozil, who was absent through injury.
Having said that, Sanchez made the most key passes in the match (three), and almost scored the goal (read own goal) that nearly earned all three points for Arsenal. With the Chilean seemingly improving, he’ll be a key figure for the Gunners in their bid for a top four finish, should he stay beyond January.
Alexandre Lacazette: 7/10
The Frenchman was a major threat to deal with for the West Brom defenders, especially with his tendency to often create something out of nothing. Lacazette came the closest to scoring for Arsenal on the night, only for Foster to stand in his way. The lack of service must be frustrating for him though, with the players behind him not supplying well.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles: 6/10
Maitland-Niles came on earlier than anticipated on Sunday, and showed that he continues to improve as he continues accumulating minutes on the pitch. If Kolasinac’s injury ends up being a serious one, he will be crucial to deputise on the left side of defence.