Arsenal v West Bromwich Albion
Barclays Premier League
Kick off: May 24th, 2015 15:00 BST
Arsene Wenger named a much changed side to face West Bromwich Albion, and things certainly worked out as we marched to a dominant 4-1 win.
The Frenchman rested a number of players ahead of our FA Cup final clash with Aston Villa next weekend, with the most notable changes being Gabriel in defence and Theo Walcott alone up front.
The pacy forward looked bright right from the off, and was unlucky to see a shot blocked. He didn’t have to rely on luck moments later however, and after being played in by Santi Cazorla, he made himself a yard of space and rifled the ball into the far corner.
Boaz Myhill could only flap helplessly as the venomous strike cannoned in off the underside of the bar, Walcott repaying Wenger’s faith in a matter of minutes. 1-0.
It was immediately obvious that Myhill wasn’t going to have an easy afternoon, and if it weren’t for him things might have been far worse for West Brom.
Alexis Sanchez came close to scoring, with his quick feet putting him into an excellent shooting position. His eventual strike was rather tame though, and Myhill was able to make the save.
The Welshman could do nothing to stop Walcott shortly after though, with the England international doubling his and Arsenal’s tally. Some good work from Jack Wilshere put Mesut Özil in a decent shooting position, but the ball was stolen off his toes by a West Brom defender.
Walcott picked the loose ball up, and weaved his way into the box – with the defenders looking afraid to put a tackle in. He toe poked the ball past Myhill, making it 2-0 and putting us firmly in control.
It seemed like a matter of seconds before it was three, with Jack Wilshere scoring the pick of the goals with a sumptuous volley.
West Brom failed to properly clear their lines from a corner, with Gabriel popping it up for Wilshere at the edge of the box. He swung his foot at it, releasing a sweet volley that flew into the top corner. Myhill had absolutely no chance, and the game looked all sewn up at 3-0.
Both players were denied by Myhill shortly after, but it looked a matter of time before the next goal came. Santi Cazorla saw a shot deflected narrowly wide, and Wilshere came close to his second with a chance he probably should have done better with.
The 23-year-old played a massive part in the next goal, with a trademark driving run seeing him link up with Sanchez and Cazorla. The Spaniard got to the byline, and his scuffed shot-cum-cross found Walcott for a tap in. 4-0.
We went into the break 4-0 up, and we looked capable of scoring whenever we felt like it.
Tony Pulis clearly had serious words with his side at half time, at they were a lot sturdier in the second 45.
We were still dominating the game, but there were fewer defensive lapses – at least from the visitors.
A simple looking corner was fired into our box, and David Ospina came to claim it. He made a real hash of it though, and got nowhere near the ball. Gareth McAuley rose highest, nodding into the back of the net to give his side a consolation goal on the hour mark. 4-1.
Walcott came close on a couple of occasions, but first he misjudged the flight of a ball over the top, and then failed to get on the end of an Özil cross after a fantastic bit of skill from the German.
That was to be his last chance, with Olivier Giroud replacing him at Wenger’s standard 70 minute mark.
Aaron Ramsey replaced Francis Coquelin simultaneously, and the Welshman had an immediate impact. He hit the post twice with a couple of fine shots, with Myhill having to pull off a top quality save to push the second strike onto the woodwork.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain came on for Jack Wilshere late on, with the youngster making his long awaited return from injury. He didn’t make much of an impact, but it was great to see him back in action.
Ospina had another shocker late on, but he was saved further embarrassment by the woodwork. The score remained 4-1, and we will surely be in confident mood ahead of our trip to Wembley – and it helps that Aston Villa lost their second consecutive game, this time against a relegated Burnley side.