Arsenal got back to winning ways in the Premier League after a penalty from Mikel Arteta in either half gave the Gunners a 2-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion.
Arsene Wenger was hoping for an improvement following last week’s dismal loss to Swansea and he certainly got that in what turned out to be a comfortable win.
Baggies boss Steve Clarke saw his side suffer a third straight loss and will be worried at their general lack of threat in the final third.
Arteta dispatched the two penalties calmly, though West Brom will claim Santi Cazorla dived for the first but there was no argument over which was the better side.
Arsenal started the game positively as West Brom were content to cede ground and keep it tight, but that meant lone front man Shane Long didn’t have much in the way of service or support up front
Gervinho was lively all afternoon and could have opened the scoring inside ten minutes when a corner was not cleared properly and fell to him inside the area, but he dragged his volley wide.
The chance did force a change for West Brom, however, as Liam Ridgewell collided with the post trying to clear it – he was replaced by Goran Popov.
Arsenal took the lead after 25 minutes when Cazorla was brought down by Steven Reid in the left of the area, but replays showed there was minimal contact and certainly not enough to bring down the Spaniard.
However, referee Mike Jones was convinced and pointed to the spot; Arteta finished calmly and he will have been relieved to score after his last minute failure against Fulham a few weeks ago.
Clarke may have felt aggrieved by the penalty award, but he will have been relieved that his side did not go in at the break even further behind.
Cazorla released Gervinho on the left after half an hour and the Ivory Coast winger passed it across the face of goal for the onrushing Jack Wilshere, but the young England international could not get enough on the ball and his effort went wide from inside the six-yard box.
There were gasps around the Emirates Stadium a few minutes later as Mike Jones blew his whistle after what looked like a handball from Per Mertesacker as he defended a lofted free-kick.
West Brom players were screaming for a penalty but it was a pull by Jonas Olsson that brought the whistle.
Gervinho had a chance to double the lead a few minutes before half-time when another failure to clear found him in possession just inside the box; his turn and shot was weak, however, and Reid just got there ahead of Cazorla after Myhill saved.
The erratic winger continued to miss chances in the second half as the Gunners found more space owing to West Brom’s search for an equaliser, but he certainly did not have his shooting boots on.
The second goal was only a matter of time though, as Wenger’s side expanded their play; confidence was growing with the extra space they were getting in the final third.
Oxlade-Chamberlain dispossessed Popov in front of the area, with the Macedonian going over a little easily, before driving past Chris Brunt’s late challenge and being brought down.
There was no controversy about this one and Arteta repeated his first half kick by going straight down the middle – the relief around Emirates Stadium was palpable.
West Brom had brought on Lukaku for Odemwingie just before the second and it left them more open to the counter-attack, meaning every Arsenal break looked like it could end up in a third.
Wenger will be disappointed the margin of victory was not greater, but his side looked as comfortable as they have done in a while.
Another West Brom defeat Clarke will have to do some thinking, as his side never really looked like troubling the home side’s defences.
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