Arsene Wenger made a few changes to the Arsenal line-up for the trip to West Brom, some forced on him due to the injury problems of Wilshere and Arteta, but bringing Giroud and Koscielny back was definitely through the manager’s choice and gave the squad a very timely boost.
Welbeck passed his late fitness test and started on the left of attack, but neither Walcott, Sanogo or Szxczesny made it, so Martinez kept the keeper’s gloves for a Premier League debut with young Matt Macey on the bench.
The Gunners had the confidence boost of beating Dortmund and also out playing Man United and right from the start we looked like carrying on from those games, pressing well as a team and looking dangerous when we had the ball. Some good interplay in and around the box gave Cazorla an early chance but his well struck shot was straight at Foster.
The Spaniard got another good chance five minutes later but this time it was blocked. The Baggies were coming back into the game by now and were using the width of the pitch to stretch Arsenal. But Koscielny was handling Berahino well and our BFG looked much calmer with the Frenchman alongside him.
Surprisingly we had less possession than them in the first 20 minutes and that suggests how much we miss Arteta at the heart of midfield. Gibbs had been rested but a knock to Monreal meant that lasted just 23 minutes. Welbeck then made a great run behind and was found by Ramsey’s through ball but Foster was out quickly to smother his shot.
Then Giroud closed down the keeper and robbed the ball but could not finish from a tight angle. We were seeing much more of the ball as well and Cazorla got a third chance to shoot with his left foot from the edge of the box but his shot this time had no power, but the Spaniard was playing well and getting into good positions.
Ramsey came inches away from getting that goa he has been after when he won the ball high up and played a one-two with Cazorla and the Spaniard nearly found him again with a cross a minute later but it was just too hard for the Welshman. We should have been ahead at the break but it looked like we might need to be patient and make sure we didn’t make any mistakes like last weekend.
And right after the break Arsenal were lucky to see an incorrect offside flag when Berahino broke in behind and was clear on Martinez. It took us a while to get going again but there was an almighty scramble in the West Brom box, with Ramsey and Cazorla have shots blocked.
With 10 minutes gone, a great flowing move from Arsenal saw Giroud free Gibbs and the left back sat up a peach of a cross which anyone but Cazorla woul;d probably have reached. But we were largely in control again and just needed the right chance to fall to the right player.
THat happened with half an hout to play, but the Spaniard was heavily involved, bursting down the left and producing the perfect cross for Welbeck to power his header home from six yards.
West Brom rolled the dice, brought on another striker and went 4-4-2, but it was still Arsenal that looked the most likely to score. Giroud was a great target man allowing the pace of Welbeck and Alexis with the creation of Ramsey and Cazorla to cause all sorts of problems.
But Chamberlain replaced Giroud with 15 minutes to go, and then the home side managed to put us under some real pressure, including Berahino hitting the bat with a header. Maybe we were a bit too conservative towards the end but recent results are responsible for that and three points and another clean sheet were important to keep the confidence building.