Arsenal v West Bromwich Albion
Barclays Premier League
Kick off: May 4, 2014 1.30 PM BST
It was an anti-climax of the season. Manchester City’s victory at Goodison Park meant Arsenal secured the Fourth-Place-Trophy while Fulham and Cardiff’s respective losses against Stoke and Newcastle United left Norwich as the only long-distance danger to West Brom’s Premiership status. With the minds set on FA Cup Final our team gave a surprisingly solid performance while our visitors didn’t offer too much to write home about.
Surprisingly or not, Wenger didn’t rotate his squad too much. Aaron Ramsey was given a rest (there was a Facebook-comment that didn’t come from any official source mentioning a minor thigh injury as a reason for that rest) with Mathieu Flamini taking his place in the starting eleven. The rest of the side was the same against Hull City and Newcastle United respectively. Bacary Sagna was given a nod in what might turn out to be his last game at Emirates in an Arsenal shirt despite doubts regarding his knee-injury while Per Mertesacker wasn’t rested like some of us expected.
It was the presence of two Frenchmen that was the most intriguing part of the match though – Abou Diaby was on the bench for the first time in 13 months and long-time Arsenal target Loic Remy was watching the game from the stands.
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Lukas Podolski had the first chance of the game. It was a bit of like that ball Giroud passed to him in their first match together for Arsenal (against Köln) in 2012 but this time Podolski fired it wide. Giroud took things into his own hands and scored what turned out to be a match-winning goal. Cazorla took a corner from the left, Giroud made a run and fired the header into the net. It was the most “typical-English” goal Giroud has scored this season, the 22nd on his account.
Our visitors couldn’t produce much of a threat. Their best player Berahino had one good move and attempt but Szczesny saved the ball without problems. Cazorla came close to doubling our lead but Foster pulled off an excellent save to deny the Spaniard.
The best chance of the second half was what looked like a miss-hit from Podolski but his effort was stopped by the post. Just like against Newcastle, the German – who has been one of the most prolific players (in terms of minutes played) in the history of the Premiership – didn’t have enough luck to improve his goal-record. His compatriot Özil had a chance too but his effort ended wide.
All-in-all, it was a solid performance that was useful in terms of keeping a good atmosphere among the players. Szczesny has earned three consecutive clean sheets, Giroud has been on the score-sheet three times in the last four matches and Cazorla has kept his good form running with another assist to his name. No new injuries took place so our players can look forward to our last two matches of the season. Norwich might get mathematically relegated before we play them in the last Premiership match of the season so they will be motivated to make amends to their fans.
So we secured another season in the Champions’ League and it’s that’s the most important thing given where we were less than a month ago. We could have done much better as we had been top of the league longer than any other club this season but it wasn’t meant to be. With (hopefully) a real trophy in his hands in two weeks time, a significant budget at his disposal and a new contract that he is set to officially sign, Arsene Wenger might oversee us return to the top of English football.
Where the biggest club of the biggest English city belongs!
on the win…
We played well, [West Brom] had a few chances as well. But we wanted to finish with a win, and we did. It was a bit subdued because we knew we were in the top four but we were serious, we didn’t concede and scored a goal in the first half. The second goal never came but overall if you look at the home season, we lost the first game at home and after that we didn’t lose anymore. It was important not to lose today.
on securing a top-four finish…
I’m happy with the attitude, the behaviour and the consistency of my players. I’m frustrated as well because we were 120 days top of the league. When you look today it’s very tight and then comes through your mind here and there the points you dropped that we should not have dropped. The regret as well is at the most important period of the season we had two important players out. We have many players who have only played between five and 15 games. That’s where we want to improve for next season.
on whether there has been progress…
In the top four teams, only one team will win it. Today you could say that Man City is in the best position but any other team will be frustrated because they will think they could have taken two points more here or there. That’s part of the game. I would just say to be brutal in our first analysis is we missed a few goals compared to the teams who scored the most goals and we missed some big away games by conceding two many. But apart from that our defensive stability was fantastic, we had 16 clean sheets but in some games we were not at the start of the game and we couldn’t get into them before we lost it. The defensive stability we had the whole season was not reflected in these kind of games.
on building for next season…
Of course. If you look at the overall performance of the team we have done until today well in the cup, we have done quite well in the Champions League where we had a difficult group, we played against Bayern with ten men and we didn’t fail anywhere. The attitude of the group was remarkably consistent and of quality. But we still have missed something to be decisive in the Premier League at the moment when we were in a good position.
on whether he regrets not buying another striker…
No the regret is not there because we missed offensive players at an important part of the season. The solution is not always outside, the solution is as well inside your club where the disadvantage of having many injuries is you always have to play the same players. Then of course they score less goals because they are a bit jaded.
on changing tactics in the big games…
We want not to lose the match and of course as well you want to win the games but when you lose, you’re always wrong. I go long enough into management meetings in Europe with the best managers and every year you analyse the teams who win the Champions League. When Barcelona wins everybody comes to the conclusion that you have to have possession and the team who has possession wins. When the team who doesn’t have the ball wins, everybody says maybe you should not have the ball and play a bit more on the counter attack. I think it’s always the same conclusion but in a club you need a philosophy and maybe of course we have to adapt in some games but we lost some games before we could start after 10 minutes it was 2-0 and it’s difficult to defend or attack, that can happen as well if you play with 10 defenders.
on Loic Remy being at the game…
Honestly I have just been informed that Loic Remy was here, I didn’t know. So don’t see any sign of us signing Loic Remy in that. I hope he has paid for his ticket! No [I didn’t invite him], that’s why i tell you I have not invited him.
on Sagna’s future…
I want him to stay and I hope that convinces him that we love him here and he will stay. We have two players here who are at the end of their contracts, Sagna and Fabianski. If it was down to me, they both stay.
on Kim Kallstrom’s future…
He is on loan, so he belongs to Moscow and will go back to Moscow.
on his own future…
No, don’t be impatient. My last time will come! You will get rid of me one day, don’t worry.
on him being back next season…
Yes. I don’t know [when I will sign a new deal]. I told you many times that my word is my word. i am from a period where you did not need a pen to commit.
on whether he is definitely here…
Look at me! You will see me again.
on why he hasn’t signed yet…
It is not linked [with the FA Cup final] at all. It was important to be in the Champions League, that is for sure. I have told you many times it is not linked the fact I feel I am useful.
on whether he had any doubts…
No, I do not have moments of doubt. if I did, it would have been a few years ago when I had to say no to many offers and I committed to this club.
on whether he still feels useful…
Yes. Buy you have to decide that as well!
Sagna Mertesacker Koscielny Monreal
Flamini Arteta (c)
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