Everyone was looking forward to the return of Premier League football after yet another international break, but after today’s abject performance we hate football once again!
We predictably dominated the ball, but we weren’t looking hugely threatening. Neither were West Brom however, so it was a matter of biding our time. All that changed with just over ten minutes gone though, when a fairly innocuous looking challenge left Francis Coquelin stricken on the ground.
That was the end of his involvement, and somewhat surprisingly he was replaced by Mikel Arteta as opposed to Mathieu Flamini – this was to prove a huge mistake.
There weren’t many chances in the early goings, although we came close through Alexis Sanchez when the Chilean’s free kick was saved by Boaz Myhill.
Despite a lack of clear cut chances, we took the lead just before the half hour mark. Alexis was again involved, this time earning the free kick. Mesut Özil whipped it in, and Olivier Giroud found space to deftly head past the keeper. 1-0.
Our lead didn’t last long though, and a few minutes later things were level again. Mikel Arteta was punished rather harshly for a perfectly decent challenge, but he took plenty of blame for the goal that the free-kick created.
He turned his back on the free kick, while Hector Bellerin lost his man James Morrison. Morrison put it past Petr Cech with an unfortunately excellent finish. 1-1.
Things went from bad to worse, and in no time at all we were behind. James McClean worked hard to get his cross in from the byline, but there didn’t look to be anyone to get on the end of it. Cech got a slight touch, but only turned it onto Arteta, who handled it and knocked it into his own net. 2-1.
It remained that way until half time, and things were looking bleak.
We had a couple of decent chances early on in the second half, and were a little unlucky. Giroud was manhandled in the box by Jonas Olsson and was disappointed not to get a penalty, while Kieran Gibbs should have done far better when he was found in space in the box. His initial shot was blocked though, and when it came back to him he skied it over the bar.
We also had to make our second enforced substitution in midfield, with Arteta’s calf playing up and Mathieu Flamini being called upon.
It was probably a good thing that Arteta was replaced, but it was too little too late at that point.
There were more chances, with Mesut Özil hitting the post and substitute Joel Campbell somehow contriving to miss a glorious chance – rushing his shot and blasting wide when he had time and space a few yards out.
The best chance we had to equalise came from the spot however, with Alexis Sanchez brought down in the area. Santi Cazorla naturally stepped up, but he slipped at the vital moment, kicking the ball into his standing foot and seeing it loop painfully over the bar.
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We didn’t play like a team that really wanted all three points, but it also just wasn’t our day. Things really went against us, and we’ve consequently slipped to fourth in the table.