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Arsenal 3 West Bromwich Albion 0

Arsenal 3 West Bromwich Albion 0

Though Arsenal have been in good form of late, it does feel like an incredibly long time since we`ve had a comfortable victory. I hadn`t anticipated on yesterday being one. I feared the team had surrendered their momentum after the lacklustre draw with Marseille. However, the team sheets told the difference. Whilst Arsene Wenger pondered on which international centre half he would have to disappoint, Hodgson was left counting the cost of losing his two leading strikers- Shane Long and Peter Odemwingie- to injury.

With the clocks now set back in England and the country ensconced in autumnal November chill, the gloomy London skies were quickly giving way to darkness even by the time the match kicked off. This left a beautifully bruised purple sky over the stadium. Pic courtesy of my sister. But there was nothing bruised or brooding about The Arsenal`s performance. As expected West Brom played compactly, denying time and space to their hosts in the opening 23 minutes.

But you always got the feeling Arsenal could pick through them. It took them till about the halfway point of the half to fashion a chance. When they did, the world`s most clinical striker made sure it was finished. Simon Cox fouled Vermaelen on the halfway line. Vermaelen took a quick free kick and the Baggies` concentration dropped. Aaron Ramsey picked the ball up in midfield and saw the slaloming intonation of a Walcott run. The Welshman showed his growing class by threading the eye of the needle with an inch perfect through pass to match Walcott`s run. Walcott bore down on goal and his low strike was saved by Ben Foster, but Robin van Persie was on hand showing his predatory instincts hadn`t been dulled by sweeping home the rebound. 11 in 11 games and 29 in 28 in 2011. His omission from the Ballon D`or shortlist gives you all the confirmation that you need to see what a crock of rat`s arse that award is.

The Gunners continued to control the half and added to their advantage shortly before half time. McAuley`s clearing header only came as far as Alex Song on the corner of West Brom`s penalty area. Song was given a ridiculous amount of time and space to clip a precise ball to the back post- a pass remarkably similar to one he played for Eduardo`s sensational volley against Burnley in 2009. It drifted towards the back post where van Persie attempted to side foot it onto the path of Gervinho. Olsson nicked it away from the Ivorian, but nobody had tracked the run of Thomas Vermaelen who swept the ball past Foster to make it 2-0.

In the second half West Brom had little resolution but to try and score and made a lively start to the half. But without either of their two main strikers, they lacked the venom in their attempts. This allowed space for the Gunners to exploit. Carl Jenkinson- putting in his finest display for the club yet- motored into 30 or 40 yards of greenbelt on the right hand side before delivering one of a number of threatening crosses, with Gervinho lurking, McAuley was forced to anxiously lift the ball over his own crossbar. From the resulting corner, van Persie`s delivery was met with the untracked run of Thomas Vermaelen, but the Belgian conspired to head narrowly wide.

Arsenal began to cut a beleaguered Baggies side to ribbons at will. Song was becoming Arsenal`s hub. He found van Persie, who used that delightful touch he produces so often, disguising his intention to create space for himself. He dupes the defender into thinking he will merely stop the ball before letting it hit his instep, unbalancing the defender and eking out a yard of space for himself. The Dutchman found Gervinho on the left, who tempted two West Brom defenders before nudging the ball to Ramsey, who twisted and shot wide.

Song again found Gervinho- this time on the right- with a bending pass. Gervinho smuggled himself into the area, played a neat one two with Arteta, but found his cross shot beaten out by Foster. West Brom would have settled for the final whistle at this point. Song again turned the ball wide to Gervinho, he exposed his full back before tucking the ball back to Song in the area, but the Cameroonian`s effort was saved by Foster. Van Persie once again dropped deep between the away side`s midfield and defence to receive the ball on the right, his dribble initially looked to have been foiled by Thomas` tackle, but his challenge unwittingly played Walcott in down the right. Walcott shimmied past McAuley and shifted the ball to van Persie, but he was already leaning back and spooned his shot over.

But there was no mistake with the next attack. Song found van Persie in the hole again. He turned the ball wide to Rosicky before continuing his run into the area. Rosicky duly found him, van Persie, with his back to goal, pushed the ball back to Arteta, who steered a beautiful shot into the bottom corner for his first goal at The Grove. I was happy for Arteta, who hasn`t garnered enough credit for the maturity he`s brought to our side. A much needed maturity too. Sometimes it is better to have a player in there that is constantly at 7 out of 10 rather than one that veers randomly between 4 and 8 out of 10. Particularly in a team like ours; that has a penchant for self inflicted woundage.

The game rather petered out from there. Vermaelen made an impressive block inside the area when Somen Tchoyi threatened. Szczesny made a comfortable save from a Stephen Reid header, but overall 3-0 victory only told part of the story of our dominance. The understanding has increased in the team week by week and yesterday was the first time I can remember some dashing one touch play. It shouldn`t be as much of a surprise as it is being treated as. Understanding and adhesiveness are hugely important in football. Newcastle`s current form correlates directly with the fact that they`ve named the same starting line up for 9 of their 11 league games to date. The signs are there that the players appreciate one another`s movements. Walcott and Gervinho are forming a tantalising duel threat from the wings, the midfield trio of Ramsey, Arteta and Song is coming into its own too. With van Persie heading it all; we truly have the jewel in the crown of world strikers. LD.

13.SZCZESNY, 25.JENKINSON, 6.KOSCIELNY, 5.VERMAELEN, 11.A.SANTOS, 17.SONG, 8.ARTETA, 16.RAMSEY (7.Rosicky `71), 14.WALCOTT (23.Arshavin `78), 27.GERVINHO (30.Benayoun `72), 10.v.PERSIE(c). Unused; 4.Mertesacker, 9.J-Y.Park, 20.Djourou, 21.Fabianski.

Follow me on twitter @LittleDutchVA

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Writer:Tim Stillman
Date:Sunday November 6 2011
Time: 4:35PM


Great form between the two international breaks. Time to start praying that we get back everyone uninjured..
06/11/2011 16:45:00
This team might not be as talented as it was 12 months ago, but now we've started weeding out all the egotists and *****baskets this team is really starting to gel. Already caught up to Liverpool whose fans would tell you were title contenders. We know that's not true, but anything in the top four would be a massive achievement for us this year.
06/11/2011 17:21:00
We've made heavy weather of seemingly straightforward fixtures enough times in the past to take satisfaction from this one. We benefited not only from the maturity of Arteta (and RvP naturally) but also Santos. Walcott, Ramsey and Gervinho were worth their starting places too but a big difference for me was that we could replace that youthful enthusiasm and energy (along with ability) with the maturity of Rosicky and Benayoun .....and even Arshavin I suppose.
06/11/2011 18:14:00
Good write up, LD. What's most pleasing for me is the fact we kept a clean sheet; 2nd in a row and 4th in last 10 games in all competitions. Kos and Vermaelen were awesome and struck a very good partnership, making crucial blocks the few times WBA showed any offensive intent in the game. The competition for places at the back has helped and will do too for the midfield and offense, when we have Wilshere, Gibbs and Diaby back (I expect we will make a striker purchase in the winter window too, which will increase competition). Playing the same side is a good thing but it gets better when you do so with most of the team knowing there is an equally good team mate breathing down their necks. Next few games are winnable but we can't take anything or team for granted, least of all, a free scoring side like Norwich at home.
06/11/2011 20:56:00
Song received a lot of due praise in 09/10 for his coming of age season as a defensive midfielder. I think he deserves more praise for adding to those defensive skills the quality of passing and vision that LD aluded to on couple of occasions above. Can't think of another DM in Europe that I'd swap him for. Reckon Arsenal is blessed to have him in our team. Well done Alex! Great write up as usual LD.
07/11/2011 04:42:00
I think Arteta is massively underrated. A lot of people complained that he was a poor man's Fabregas, and whilst he doesn't quite have the cutting edge or vision that the little Spaniard has, he brings a completely different quality to the team. Fabregas was the creative force, where as Arteta is a father figure, a leader, someone to take hold of the game and allow others to express themselves. He doesn't shirtk responsibility and i love watching him play.
07/11/2011 08:05:00
Arteta puts in a lot more defensive work and that has helped recently. With Santos wandering forward, and not being the classical left back, both Song and Arteta will need to perform more defensive duties. Which leaves Ramsey to go forward more, and he has done that well. He didn't start the season well, but has improved tremendously in the past month. We need one player who can play those incisive through balls which will bisect the defence and Ramsey is that man. Solid defensive show, but WBA was not a threat at all. Pleased with the clean sheet, and i hope that can continue for a few more games.
07/11/2011 09:37:00
great write up again LD...Arteta has worked hard to get where he is now, and I enjoyed watching his cultured, matured touch in the centre of the park. He so rarely gives up the ball, and works hard for the team. The joy he clearly got out of scoring brought a huge smile to my face. the next two weeks are going to be loooooong
07/11/2011 10:32:00
Credit to Arteta and Song but I also think Jenkinson has started to look more comfortable, I do want him to have a shot from distance as the more our defensive players shoot the more space our forwards will get. I think a striker, maybe an established winger, in Jan and we'll be in really good shape. Also when Diaby comes back I assume he'll rotate with Ramsey and we'll see him in his best position.
No 10
07/11/2011 10:35:00
I'm glad you describe that thing that RvP does when is first touch seemingly buys him tons of time and space and puts the opponent out. I need to watch that again and try and copy it! Dare I say it, we look a more rugged side than we have in the past. There does seem to be a growing maturity to the team. As well as Arteta, I think Song is really starting to stamp his personality on our midfield and become a real presence there. Gervinho offers far more of what this team needed than Nasri. All in all, very satisfying considering where we were. Just praying for RvP's fitness now...
07/11/2011 10:39:00
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