Report and free match highlights as Alexandre Lacazette scores his fifth goal in his last four games in all competitions; Bukayo Saka also scores his third goal of the season; West Brom have now conceded 12 goals in their last three Premier League home games
Sunday 3 January 2021 07:19, UK
Alexandre Lacazette continued his recent scoring spree with a double in Arsenal's 4-0 win at West Brom, with the Gunners winning a third successive Premier League game.
Kieran Tierney (23) put the dominant visitors ahead with a superb solo goal - his first of the season. The impressive Bukayo Saka (28) doubled the lead shortly after as Arsenal showed off some sensational team play.
West Brom had their best spell either side of the break, but an error from Semi Ajayi allowed Arsenal to hit the Baggies with a devastating attack that was eventually finished by a fizzing Lacazette effort (60). The Frenchman added his second shortly afterwards, turning home from close range (64).
Lacazette has now scored five goals in his last four outings in all competitions, while Arsenal's resurgence continues with a third successive Premier League win and a second clean sheet in a row. The win lifts them to 11th, while West Brom remain 19th, having conceded 12 goals in Sam Allardyce's first three home league games.
Arsenal were vivacious in the first half and had two superb openings inside 10 minutes. Branislav Ivanovic was just ahead of Lacazette to nod away a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang cross, before Hector Bellerin saw his rebounded attempt saved by Sam Johnstone and Saka had a third Arsenal effort blocked. Shortly afterwards, Saka breezed past Dara O'Shea but his shot was straight at the goalkeeper.
The Arsenal chances just kept coming as heavy snow fell at The Hawthorns. Saka beat O'Shea again down the right flank after a sumptuous forward pass from Dani Ceballos. However, his flashed cross in front of goal was just missed by the incoming Aubameyang at the far post. Saka was involved again soon after, sending a curling cross in from the top right corner, but it flew just over Lacazette and Aubameyang in the middle.
West Brom: Johnstone (6), Furlong (5), Ajayi (5), O’Shea (6), Ivanovic (6), Sawyers (5), Robinson (5), Phillips (6), Gallagher (6), Diangana (5), Pereira (6).
Subs used: Austin (4), Bartley (5), Harper (n/a).
Arsenal: Leno (6), Bellerin (7), Holding (7), Mari (7), Tierney (8), Ceballos (7), Xhaka (7), Saka (8), Smith-Rowe (8), Lacazette (8), Aubameyang (7).
Subs used: Maitland-Niles (6), Willian (6), Willock (6).
Man of the match: Kieran Tierney.
West Brom's only shot on target of the first half came in the 21st minute. They hit Arsenal on the break, Matheus Pereira holding the ball up well before slotting it through for Matt Phillips. The Baggies captain sent a strong volley goalwards, but Bernd Leno pushed it away.
Two minutes later and Arsenal took a deserved lead with Tierney's wonderful solo effort. He sped past Darnell Furlong on the left before cutting into the area past the West Brom defender again, leaving him trailing behind. The left-back then sent a superb, curling shot into the far corner for his first goal of the season.
Soon after, Arsenal went to the other end of the spectrum and produced a dazzling team goal to double their lead. Emile Smith Rowe, Saka and Lazacette combined around the West Brom area, before the former slotted the ball across for an unmarked Saka to expertly slot home.
West Brom had their best spell either side of half-time and did have the ball in the back of the net early in the second period. Pereira was played through, but his scooped effort over Leno pinged off the crossbar. Callum Robinson then smashed home the rebound, but the flag was raised with Pereira well offside when the initial ball was played.
But it did not take too long before Arsenal found their free-flowing rhythm from the first half, and they made it three on the hour mark. Ajayi will not want to watch it back, though, with his slack pass allowing Aubameyang to send Lacazette through with a tapped pass. The Frenchman then picked out Saka down the right, but his cross was sent mercifully onto the crossbar by Ajayi. The West Brom defender took Smith Rowe's rebound to the midriff before Lacazette fizzed the ball home around Ivanovic.
That was the most shots Arsenal have registered in one match under Mikel Arteta. And, they haven't had so many shots on target in one game since December 2017 when they beat Manchester United.
The striker nabbed his second goal four minutes later. Aubameyang was the instigator again, driving through the midfield before picking out Tierney on the left. The Scot then fizzed a cross ahead of the defenders before an unmarked Lacazette turned it home with a high foot. There was a brief look over to the linesman for offside, but he was comfortably on.
Arsenal could have added more as the game went on too. Aubameyang went close on three occasions - firing wide, seeing a shot saved by Johnstone and just missing a Lacazette cross - as the Gunners finished the game having registered 20 shots, the most they have recorded in the Premier League this season.
The left-back has become something of a fan favourite at Arsenal and showed exactly why on Saturday. He was devastating down the left as West Brom struggled to contain the Gunners' talent on the wings, picking up a well-deserved assist for Lacazette's second. He also made four key passes and had 96 touches, both the highest of the Arsenal squad.
But it was his goal that was most impressive. He turned Furlong twice, leaving the defender in his wake, and his finish was simply superb, especially considering he is not known for his goals. In fact, it was only his 10th career goal and his second for Arsenal.
Mikel Arteta told BT Sport after the game: "He's been fantastic since I've been here. The moment he got back from his shoulder injury, he's been terrific. He's a lad that gives you absolutely everything, he's improving, he's willing to do better and better and he brings a great energy and quality to the team."
West Brom manager Sam Allardyce said: "We've got to battle on as a team and try and do the things we need to do better than we're doing now. That means first and foremost, stop giving sloppy goals away and we need to really get better at defending as a team as we've shown against the big boys. We've had a look at everybody, we've tried our best and played game after game, which is difficult to cope with in terms of training.
"But we need to be more resilient in terms of our defending and until we start getting clean sheets, we won't get enough points to try and move up the table because we don't have any proven Premier League goalscorers in our squad.
"We've had huge games in a small period of time to make our decisions and we have to make them very quickly. It's part of your experience to say 'this is the only way we can play now', so we have to get on the training pitch when we can and start putting that into place.
"When we go attacking and lose the ball, we forget how to defend and as a result, are getting beaten by too many goals so we have to put that right and make sure we deliver a performance that will get us a result. That will start when we stop conceding goals."
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said: "It's always tough to win away from home and the way we've done it, in a really convincing way in this difficult weather. But I'm really pleased, it's three in a row in the last week, we talked about the importance of this week for us and to be able to win the three of them is really important.
"There were moments when I thought we were really good, both defensively and offensively. In the attacking phase, there were moments that were exactly what I want, exactly what we try to train. In other moments, we became a little bit sloppy when we thought that the game was won and it's something we have to improve in general. But it's close to what we want.
"The energy and the convincing momentum that you get from everybody that is involved is much more positive. I wasn't that concerned with performances [during Arsenal's recent winless run], we lost games that we were really unlucky and some was our own fault because we made some errors and we lacked some discipline at some moments.
"But you need to win football matches and this brings a different moment, energy and as well, the players took the handbrake off and you can see they are more free to play.
"I'm so pleased because I thought in the final third, we looked so lively, there is a lot of movement, there is good energy, there is purpose, everyone is playing forward. It's like we are freer to play and the understanding is being able to generate a lot of things there."
Both sides are in FA Cup action next Saturday. West Brom travel to Blackpool while holders Arsenal face a Premier League opponent in Newcastle. The Baggies will be back in league action on Saturday January 16 when they travel to Wolves, while Arsenal welcome Crystal Palace on Thursday January 14, live on Sky Sports; kick-off 8pm.