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West Bromwich Albion vs. Arsenal: Score, Grades and Post-Match Reaction

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West Bromwich Albion vs. Arsenal: Score, Grades and Post-Match Reaction
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Arsenal returned to the top of the Premier League with a hard-fought 1-1 draw at West Bromwich Albion on Sunday. 

Claudio Yacob put the hosts ahead with a 42nd-minute header, but Jack Wilshere ended his difficult week by pulling Arsenal level with a well-taken volley in the 63rd minute.

With the point, Arsenal moved even with Liverpool on 16 points. The teams have identical plus-six goal differentials, but Gunners are first with 14 goals scored compared to Liverpool's 11. The result ended the Gunners' club-record run of eight-straight away victories in the league. 

West Brom, who won 2-1 last week at Manchester United, are 12th with nine points.

The Baggies are now unbeaten in four league matches following their slow start to the season, and on Sunday they were easily worth the draw. Saido Berahino nearly opened the scoring in the 14th minute, forcing a good deflection from Wojciech Szczesny.

Arsenal responded with shots from Kieran Gibbs and Wilshere before Aaron Ramsey forced Boaz Myhill into a save in the 40th minute with a snap shot. But the hosts went ahead only two minutes later.

Morgan Amalfitano crossed from the right for Yacob, and with Carl Jenkinson not marking tightly enough, Yacob headed down into the goal at the near post.

It was no more than the Baggies deserved for an organized display, but despite creating more clear-cut chances after the break, Steve Clarke's men were unable to keep Arsenal out.

In the 63rd minute, Mesut Ozil started a flowing move with a diagonal ball for Olivier Giroud, who passed to substitute Tomas Rosicky near the edge of West Brom's box. Rosicky laid off for Wilshere, whose half-volley deflected off Jonas Olsson and into the net.

Ten minutes before, West Brom had nearly gone ahead through ex-Arsenal striker Nicolas Anelka. But Anelka curled his shot wide from a tight angle. Just after the start of the second half, Anelka missed another chance to score following Berahino's good work on the left.

Both teams had possible penalties in the late stages. Wilshere went down in the box under a challenge from behind by Youssouf Mulumbu in the 77th minute. In stoppage time, Arsenal's Laurent Koscielny felled Shane Long in the box with a mistimed leap.

In both cases, referee Lee Mason waved play on. In the end the result was fair to both teams.

 

Grades

Saido Berahino, West Brom: A-

Michael Regan/Getty Images

Berahino posed a constant threat for West Brom, keeping Arsenal's defenders on their toes all afternoon. The 20-year-old forward completed 90 percent of his passes (per WhoScored) and worked up and down the left flank to dangerous effect.

Via FourFourTwo Stats Zone

Last week Berahino scored the winner against Manchester United. This time he was a thorn in Arsenal's right side and nearly set up a goal for Anelka, who fluffed a clear chance.

Look forward to great things from this youngster in the future.

 

Jack Wilshere, Arsenal: B-

Michael Regan/Getty Images

After being caught smoking this week, Wilshere perhaps had something to prove to manager Arsene Wenger this weekend. The England midfielder took his goal well, but overall, this was not his best performance.

Playing out of position on the wing, Wilshere looked uncomfortable in the first half and capped a poor display with a frustration-fueled yellow card. At that point, the critics came out in force, calling for him to be substituted at half-time.

Via FourFourTwo Stats Zone

But Wenger stuck with Wilshere, and Wilshere rewarded his manager with a well-taken goal on the half-volley.

Wilshere finished the match with an 81-percent pass-conversion rate, but he was dispossessed three times and turned the ball over twice (WhoScored). His player dashboard at FourFourTwo's Stats Zone illustrates what was a thoroughly uneven performance.

 

Up Next

After a week off for the international break, West Brom visit Stoke City on Oct. 19. Arsenal host Norwich City the same day.

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