Nicolas Anelka ended his 2013 the right way, as the West Brom striker notched a first-half brace against his former club, West Ham, on Saturday, Dec. 28, helping to give his club a 3-3 away draw.
In the 40th minute, Anelka hit the equalizer to level the score at 1-1. It was a great run from the Frenchman, and Chris Brunt's pass hit him perfectly in stride. From there, Anelka needed to beat Jussi Jaaskelainen, which he did with a calm finish into the bottom left corner.
That's now six Premier League clubs for which Anelka has scored. He's the ninth player to accomplish that.
There could be controversy brewing, though, as French football writer Philippe Auclair reported that the player had a less than savory celebration.
Big storm brewing in France about Anelka's 'celebration' of his first goal ag. WHFC with a - to say the least- a v. controversial gesture.— Philippe Auclair (@PhilippeAuclair) December 28, 2013
This gesture, 'la quenelle', was invented by a comedian named Dieudonne, supposedly as an 'anti-establishment' statement. But...— Philippe Auclair (@PhilippeAuclair) December 28, 2013
...it can also be read as an inversion of the Nazi salute, and has been the subject of an official complaint by anti-racist organisations.— Philippe Auclair (@PhilippeAuclair) December 28, 2013
To use it at the moment is cretinous at best. Far worse than the finger aimed at MCFC fans by Wilshere, which was rightly punished.— Philippe Auclair (@PhilippeAuclair) December 28, 2013
It will be interesting to see how the situation is handled by the French media and if Anelka is admonished in any way by the Football Association.
Six minutes after his first, the 34-year-old put West Brom ahead 2-1 with his second goal of the game.
West Ham failed to clear a corner kick, and the ball eventually fell to Anelka, who poked the ball home. It wasn't a pretty goal, and certainly not the quality of Anelka's first, but it counts all the same.
There's no doubt West Ham will be happy to see the back of the West Brom forward, as he's terrorized his former club, per OptaJoe.
8 - Nicolas Anelka has been involved in eight goals (four scored and four assists) in his last nine league games against West Ham. Menace.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 28, 2013
Even when you take out the two goals, this has been a strong performance from Anelka. His movement is dragging the West Ham defenders all over the place. He's also dropping closer to the centre circle and acting as a facilitator for the attack.
It's the kind of play the Baggies hoped to see more of when they pegged Anelka as one of the replacements for Romelu Lukaku.
This season hasn't gone according to plan for West Brom. Steve Clarke was sacked a few weeks ago, and the club has yet to find a permanent replacement.
If Anelka can keep up this kind of form, the Baggies will have solved one of their biggest problems this season: scoring goals. With a consistent target man, West Brom should be able to avoid the relegation scrap and finish comfortably mid-table.