Arsenal vs. West Brom: Slumping Gunners Find Momentum Despite Controversy
Steven Reid challenged, Santi Cazorla fell and it was a penalty to Arsenal.
Much like most things in the beautiful game, it's never quite that simple.
The tiny Spaniard drew a penalty 25 minutes into the first half with a blatant dive, and Mikel Arteta converted the first of two attempts from the spot to give the Gunners their first win in the league since the 5-2 victory over Tottenham in mid-November.
After the match, all of the discussion centered on Cazorla and the dive, but in the end, it's inconsequential. It was a disgraceful showing by a player that is far too talented to be resorting to those tactics, but it doesn't change the fact that Arsenal bossed the game and deserved all three points.
From the opening kick, the Gunners showed an urgency that had been lacking in previous mediocre performances against Aston Villa, Everton and Swansea. Jack Wilshere led the attack, pressing the ball and forcing West Brom to make tough decisions.
Arsenal made them pay once they got on the counter-attack.
The Baggies rarely threatened. Arsenal bossed the game and created chances. They were deserving of more than the scoreboard showed at full time. The wasted chances by Wilshere, Lukas Podolski (I still have no idea how he hoofed it over the bar) and, of course, Gervinho are worrisome for sure, but it was a blemish on an otherwise strong Arsenal performance.
Arsenal needed to get out of a rut, and the rest that key players got during the week showed, as the Gunners were quicker to the ball and forced the issue on the counter. They played with confidence and created chances, and it was refreshing to see Arsenal actually play like they're a top club.
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Now, the Gunners have momentum, however slight, heading into the Capital One match vs. Bradford on Tuesday and a league match the Monday after at Reading. Both are winnable matches, and strong results would give the squad a much-needed good run of form as they try and climb back into the Champions League places.
This win won't change any of the lingering issues within the club, and the squad is still capable of stronger performances. But Arsenal needed a result and they got one. For now, that's what matters, and it's up to the squad to do something with it.
All year it has been one step forward and two steps back for the Gunners, but with the run of games in front of them, there's no reason Arsenal shouldn't take a huge leap towards achieving their goals.
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