Five things we learned from Arsenal's West Brom victory
- Credit: PA
Arsenal bounced back from the disappointment of an European exit to seal a comfortable win over West Brom in the Premier League.
Here is the five things we learned in that match:
1. Arsenal can bounce back
The Gunners bounced back from European heartache in the best possible way, with an assured showing against West Bromwich Albion.
Two goals in six first half minutes put the home side in control, before Matheus Pereira pulled one back for the Baggies to set up a nervous finale.
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That tension was eased thanks to a Willian free kick in the dying embers of the contest, meaning Mikel Arteta’s hopes of qualifying for Europe have not yet burned away.
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Arteta’s faith in youth was richly rewarded. A first Premier League goal for Emile Smith Rowe and a fifth of the season for Bukayo Saka underlined the importance Arsenal will have to place on the pair moving forward, following a sub-par season.
However, the presence of Saka, Smith Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli serves as a foundation block for Arsenal to build around ahead of 2021-22.
It is up to the squad’s more experienced players to improve, and follow the example set by youngsters this campaign.
Despite coming away with all three points, Arsenal cannot afford to be so passive in games where they are clear favourites.
A 3-1 score line belies the extent to which West Brom were allowed to grow into the game, as Arteta’s side failed to control all areas.
Such a conservative approach should be shackled in favour of a more expansive style, where Arsenal place an emphasis upon asserting their dominance and putting weaker opposition to the sword.
4. Nicolas Pepe
At long last, Nicolas Pepe has begun to demonstrate his quality.
The Ivorian has struggled to adapt to the Premier League since swapping Lille for north London two summers ago but is beginning to impact matches more regularly.
Whilst a fine goal served as a reminder of Pepe’s quality, he has not yet found any real consistency, which must change if he is to elevate Arsenal in the coming months.
5. Big Sam loses his record
Sam Allardyce finally suffered the fate of managing a team to Premier League relegation.
Although he garnered a reputation as a survival specialist after securing top-flight status for Blackburn Rovers, Sunderland and Crystal Palace, Big Sam could not do the same for West Brom, who suffered relegation to the Championship for the fifth time in their history.