Arsenal defeated West Brom 2-0 on Monday night and there were many talking points after the Premier League meeting at the Emirates Stadium.
Tony Pulis rocked up at the Emirates in his tracksuit and cap, playing what he called a “swivelling back-four”. His team were rather intent on kicking Arsenal all over the pitch and wasting as much time as they could.
It wasn’t the greatest spectacle, but a brace from Alexandre Lacazette helped Arsenal to an important three points. Arsenal are now seventh in the table with points in the double figures and positive goal difference again. Progress has been made.
As always, here are five things we learned from our 10th home win over a Tony Pulis team.
Strong second half covers up jittery first
You may have seen Pulis rage on camera after the game as his side were denied what looked to be a blatant penalty in the first half. Shkodran Mustafi did sweep away Jay Rodriguez’s legs but the striker, to his credit, got straight back up and took a shot at goal. Advantage played, referee Bobby Madley saw no need to call the game back and award the penalty.
Mustafi is so rash man, decision making is so dumb sometimes. I’m sure Per can come in and do a job alongside Kosc and Monreal.
— M.M (@mac161088) September 26, 2017
While that incident received most of the attention, West Brom had other chances during the first half thanks to Arsenal’s rather flimsy defending.
Jake Livermore followed up that Rodriguez chance but put his shot wide, Nacho Monreal had to perform some goal-line heroics to keep Rodriguez out earlier, while a dangerous cross from Kieran Gibbs, of all things, fortunately missed a West Brom player by mere inches. On another night, the second half would have been a lot more uncomfortable.
Alexandre Lacazette is loving the Emirates
Lacazette was brought in to win matches and that’s precisely what he did on Monday night. His brace doubled his tally for the season, with all four of his goals coming at the Emirates Stadium.
Alexandre Lacazette has now scored 4 goals in 3 Premier League games at the Emirates Stadium.
No place like home. pic.twitter.com/1IM1r8mWJY
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 25, 2017
His first on the night was a typical poacher’s goal, the sort of “fox in the box” finish Arsenal have been searching for a long time. His second was a coolly dispatched penalty, continuing his excellent record from the penalty spot and assuring fans that Arsenal’s penalties, rare as they are, will be in safe hands.
He may still be adapting to life in the Premier League, but the Emirates is already starting to feel like home.
Alexis will walk tightrope between excellent and infuriating
The Chilean returned to Arsenal’s starting line-up for a Premier League game for the first time since that 4-0 thrashing at Anfield and had a mixed performance.
He’s always been an all-or-nothing sort of player, one whose brilliance on the pitch last season far outshone his more frustrating flaws. This season, amid doubts about his commitment to the club and just how much he cares, he’s been more like a blinking lightbulb.
Tony Pulis isn’t happy with Alexis Sanchez… pic.twitter.com/7HTpvrsF5N
— B/R Football (@brfootball) September 26, 2017
For all the neat turns and flicks he pulled off against West Brom, he often held onto the ball for too long and delayed a number of passes that could have played in team-mates in better positions. These sorts of performance could well come to define his final year as an Arsenal player.
Nacho Man saves the day
Arsenal’s best performer on the night was, by far and away, Nacho Monreal. The Spaniard flies under the radar in most games but had a spectacular performance against West Brom.
Nacho Monreal for Arsenal in the Premier League this season:
Most clearances (23)
Most interceptions (15)
Most tackles won (14)
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 25, 2017
Quick to anticipate and intercept passes and always positive on the ball, he was a driving force for Arsenal from the back. His goal-line clearance in the first half was almost as good as scoring a goal, and capped off a fine performance.
An angry Tony Pulis will never not be funny
Tony Pulis is apparently a very nice man off the pitch, but on it it’s not hard to dislike him. Be it his choice of apparel on the touchline, or the negative way he sets his teams up, it’s clear he’s not one for popularity.
Fine scenes here: Pulis says he's not gonna talk about the ref, complains about three incidents, then says he's not gonna talk about the ref
— Michael Cox (@Zonal_Marking) September 25, 2017
The sight of him raging on Monday night was a fine way to round off a decent night for Arsenal fans. He may have some legitimate grievances, but him being upset with refereeing decisions will have always have an ironic ring to it, given what his teams have gotten away with against Arsenal in the past.