Kieran Tierney and Bukayo Saka ran the show while Alexandre Lacazette was impressive again as Arsenal cruised to a 4-0 win over West Brom on Saturday.
Arsenal made a bright start to the game, creating a raft of chances in the opening quarter of only to be denied time and again. The breakthrough finally came midway through the first half, as Kieran Tierney scored a brilliant solo goal to hand the Gunners a well deserved lead. Shortly after, the visitors were two to the good, as Bukayo Saka finished off a fine team move to make it 2-0.
The north Londoners continued to put West Brom to the sword and Alexandre Lacazette, in particular, was quite unlucky to not have found the back of the net at least once heading into half-time. Post the interval, it was West Brom who came out all guns blazing and even had the ball in the back of the net before being denied by an offside call.
Arsenal took this as a wake-up call and stretched their lead further at the hour mark, as Lacazette scored two goals in quick succession to put the game to bed. The result meant that the Gunners have now won three Premier League games in a row for the first time this season, climbing to 11th on the table in the process. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Mikel Arteta’s men.
Bernd Leno: 6/10
Easy as you like for Leno, who did not have a great deal to do on the night, with Arsenal dominating the proceedings thoroughly. The German international had just three saves to make all game, with each of them being regulation stops. Will be relieved to have kept another clean sheet.
Hector Bellerin: 6.5/10
A solid effort by Bellerin, who was a constant outlet down the right flank and struck up brilliant chemistry with Bukayo Saka. The Spaniard, though, was wasteful in possession on occasion, losing the ball as many as 16 times while winning just 3 of the 9 duels he contested. Nevertheless, he was hardly troubled on his side, bar the odd occasion.
Rob Holding: 7/10
With David Luiz missing once again, it was up to Holding to be the leader at the heart of Arsenal’s defence, a role he essayed superbly. The Englishman hardly put a foot wrong and organised the backline so well that West Brom barely had any openings to exploit. Made 7 clearances while also playing a key pass, in what was a commanding display.
Pablo Mari: 7/10
Starting in the Premier League for a third successive game, Mari impressed yet again, helping Arsenal to another clean sheet. While the Spaniard was not called into action a lot of times, he did well to keep the danger as far away from Leno as possible for the most part. Particularly impressive in the air, where he won 5 of 6 duels he contested. Giving Arteta some food for thought.
Kieran Tierney: 9/10
Firing in those balls from the left flank. 🎯 pic.twitter.com/26uS9FqC65
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 2, 2021
Tierney has often seemed to be the standout defender for Arsenal this season and that was the case once again on Saturday against West Brom. The Scottish full-back was in his elements from the get-go, shutting out the threat of Matt Phillips expertly while posing a constant danger down the left flank.
Indeed, Tierney created the most number of chances on the night (4) while providing the assist for Alexandre Lacazette’s second goal. The standout moment for him, though, was the brilliant solo effort for his goal, first beating his marker before unleashing a fiery right-footed drive. A gem at Arteta’s disposal.
Dani Ceballos: 7/10
Back in the starting lineup, Ceballos was just the kind of player Arsenal needed camped in the middle of the park. Conducted play smartly, letting Saka and Emile Smith Rowe express themselves while popping up when needed. Played 3 key passes and could have had an assist on another day. Put a shift in off the ball as well, in what was a professional showing; just what he needed amid an uncertain future at Arsenal.
Granit Xhaka: 7/10
If Ceballos was the conductor of play, Xhaka was the enforcer in the engine room, enabling his midfield partner to pull the strings while also helping to keep play ticking when on the ball himself. Worked hard off the ball as well and covered up for Tierney whenever West Brom looked to pounce on any open areas. Has bounced back well since returning from suspension.
Bukayo Saka: 9/10
😰 Running out of words for this guy…
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) January 2, 2021
Saka might be touted to be a star of the future for Arsenal, but he is carving out a place for himself in the here and now. The teenage prodigy’s star continued to rise on Saturday against West Brom, as he produced yet another commanding display in the final third.
Constantly looking to make things happen, Saka linked up well with Ceballos, Smith Rowe and Bellerin on the right side and created a fine opening as well. The cherry on top, though, was his involvement in the move for his goal before he finished it off with a simple tap-in, showing brilliant awareness and movement all throughout.
Emile Smith Rowe: 8/10
It is testament to Smith Rowe’s excellence in the past week or so that Arteta chose to move around Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after recalling Alexandre Lacazette, with the youngster continuing in his favoured role through the middle. It is here that he proved to be impressive again, stitching a couple of key passes while grabbing the assist for Saka’s goal. Might alleviate the need for a creative midfielder.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: 6.5/10
Stationed on the left-wing for the first time in a while, Aubameyang was involved quite a bit on the night against West Brom. His movement allowed Tierney to overlap efficiently, but the Arsenal captain’s own output continues to leave a lot to be desired, especially with his touch deserting him at key moments. Involved in Lacazette’s first goal, though.
Alexandre Lacazette: 9/10
5 – Alexandre Lacazette has scored five away Premier League goals in 2020-21, his best such tally in a single season in the competition. Flurry. pic.twitter.com/cJCwCsbrEc
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 2, 2021
It’s three wins in a row for Arsenal and it’s a goalscoring outing for a third successive game for star striker Alexandre Lacazette. The first half ended up being quite frustrating for him, as he was thwarted a couple of times from close range. However, Lacazette was not to be denied by West Brom and he ended the game with a brace.
Having said that, the most notable moment for him on the night was his involvement in Saka’s goal, as he linked up brilliantly with Smith Rowe and the goalscorer himself to carve out the decisive opening. Most importantly, he seems to have regained sharpness in front of goal and is now back at his very best.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles: 6/10
On for Bellerin early in the second half, Maitland-Niles was largely solid at the back but was hardly involved in the final third as Arsenal went into cruise control mode following Lacazette’s two goals.
Introduced in place of Saka, Willian looked far better than he has in his recent outings, notching up a couple of efforts at goal as well. Needs to step up a great deal, though, if he is to regain his spot in the starting lineup.
Joe Willock: N/A
On for the final 15 minutes or so, Willock helped see the game out while affording Smith Rowe a breather.