Gunners held by Baggies
By Mark Buckingham
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Robert Earnshaw earned West Brom a shock point at champions Arsenal.
Robert Earnshaw earned Bryan Robson his first point as West Brom manager as The Baggies pinched a shock point at Arsenal.
Russell Hoult's glaring error on 54 minutes, after he allowed Robert Pires' shot to slip from his grasp, appeared enough to give Arsenal the win but substitute Earnshaw poked home an equaliser on 79 minutes.
West Brom proved organised opponents during the first half, with several last-ditch tackles, including a block from Darren Moore on Pires, preventing Arsenal finding a path through to Hoult.
The Baggies keeper was perfectly positioned to catch a Patrick Vieira header while Francesc Fabregas wastefully glanced Pires' corner off target.
The visitors, content to operate on the counter attack, had one real chance in the first half when Neil Clement's wicked ball into the box evaded Andy Johnson and the Arsenal defence but Zoltan Gera, poised at the far post, slid his shot into the side-netting.
Clement then proved his effectiveness around his own penalty area as he first blocked Vieira's shot and then thwarted Freddie Ljungberg.
From the resulting corner, Pires picked out Pascal Cygan unmarked at the far post and the defender's header brushed off Clement, forcing Hoult to shovel the ball clear.
Thierry Henry had been a largely subdued figure in the first period but prompted a fine one-handed, diving save from Hoult leading up to half time after bending an excellent free kick over the wall.
Arsenal increased the tempo after the break but The Baggies could even count on the help of the home side when Ashley Cole blocked Pires' goalbound shot before Dennis Bergkamp skewed the rebound wide.
The breakthrough for the champions came on 54 minutes in the most fortuitous circumstances after an absolute howler from Hoult.
Pires' curling shot from the edge of the area presented Hoult with a seemingly comfortable save but he somehow allowed the ball to slip from his grasp and he squirmed in embarrassment as it trickled over the line.
Just past the hour and The Gunners should have doubled their advantage when Bergkamp clipped a sublime cross to the far post but Cygan planted his header over the bar when it was easier to score.
Untroubled at the back, Arsenal chased a second goal to kill the game off but an intricate passing move resulted in Ljungberg rolling a teasing ball across the face of goal, which was gratefully watched wide by the West Brom defence.
By that point, Bryan Robson had introduced Geoff Horsfield and Earnshaw into the fray and his tactical move reaped dividends on 79 minutes.
Jonathan Greening produced a brilliant piece of control on the right touchline before whipping in a cross, which Jens Lehmann hesitated at, and his indecision allowed Earnshaw to steal between two defenders and finish from close range.
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|Arsenal||Team Name||West Bromwich Albion|
|3||Shots on target ( Inc Goals )||1|
|7||Shots off Target (inc woodwork)||1|
|9||Total Fouls Conceded||12|
|63 %||Possession||37 %|