Santi Cazorla a faller as Arsenal slip at West Brom
Published 21/11/2015 | 17:06
Santi Cazorla missed a late penalty as Arsenal blew the chance to go top of the Barclays Premier League with a 2-1 defeat at West Brom.
James Morrison and Mikel Arteta's own goal cancelled out Olivier Giroud's first-half opener as the Gunners suffered a frustrating reverse.
Cazorla slipped and skied his spot-kick in the final 10 minutes and Mesut Ozil hit the post, but Arsenal could not recover from a nightmare five minutes despite dominating.
It was just Albion's third win in 19 Premier League games against the Gunners and their first in their last 10 meetings.
They did it, though, by scoring twice with just one shot on target as the Gunners controlled every aspect except the scoreline.
And Arsene Wenger's worries grew after he lost Francis Coquelin and Arteta - who replaced Coquelin - to injury.
A quiet opening was only punctuated by Boaz Myhill claiming Alexis Sanchez's free-kick while Arsenal were forced into an early change as Arteta was brought on for Coquelin.
The Gunners slowly took control but were being stifled in their attempt to cut through the Baggies' congested middle.
There was little joy for the visitors until they unlocked the hosts from the simplest of set-piece goals in the 28th minute.
Sanchez was fouled and Ozil swung in a delicious delivery for an unmarked Giroud to head in from six yards.
It should have settled Arsenal, but instead Albion hit back with two goals in five minutes.
There had been little sign of any attacking threat from the hosts but they levelled in the 35th minute when Morrison looped a 10-yard volley over Petr Cech after Chris Brunt's excellent free-kick.
Five minutes later they were ahead when Salomon Rondon and James McClean combined and Arteta was left helpless when he turned in McClean's cross from close range.
The Spanish midfielder's awful afternoon ended three minutes after the break as Arsenal's injury problems got worse and he limped off to be replaced by Mathieu Flamini.
Craig Dawson blocked from Kieran Gibbs but the visitors struggled in the face of committed Albion defending, though substitute Joel Campbell should have levelled in the 67th minute only to embarrassingly misfire.
Cazorla floated a lovely ball to the far post and McClean slipped, leaving Campbell with a clear sight from six yards but the Costa Rica international fluffed his lines and failed to hit the target.
It had been all Arsenal but Albion almost sealed the points in the 71st minute when Jonas Olsson's header struck the underside of the crossbar.
But Arsenal's pressure looked to have paid off with seven minutes left when they won a penalty after Brunt hauled down Sanchez.
It infuriated the hosts but they survived to claim victory when Cazorla slipped as he shot and looped the spot-kick over the bar.
TWEET OF THE MATCH:
We're getting skinned alive here...by West Bromwich Albion. Let that sink in for a moment. #afc - Arsenal fan Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) is never usually one to hold back his views and he was less than impressed by their performance at West Brom
Boaz Myhill: 7
Craig Dawson: 7
Jonas Olsson: 7
Jonny Evans: 8
Chris Brunt: 7
Claudio Yacob: 7
Darren Fletcher: 8
James McClean: 7
Stephane Sessegnon: 7
James Morrison: 7
Salomon Rondon: 6
Rickie Lambert: 6
Saido Berahino: 6
Craig Gardner: 6
Petr Cech: 6
Hector Bellerin: 6
Per Mertesacker: 6
Laurent Koscielny: 6
Nacho Monreal: 6
Francis Coquelin: 6
Santi Cazorla: 6
Alexis Sanchez: 6
Mesut Ozil: 6
Kieran Gibbs: 6
Olivier Giroud: 7
Mikel Arteta: 5
Mathieu Flamini: 6
Joel Campbell: 5
Jonny Evans: The former Manchester United defender was at the heart of a gritty West Brom rearguard action as they kept Arsenal at bay. The Gunners constantly pressed in the second half but the Baggies kept their cool even if they survived several late scares. Evans has been one of the Baggies' stand-out performers this season and had led by example following his summer switch from Old Trafford.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH:
Santi Cazorla had the chance to rescue a point for Arsenal but lost his footing at the wrong moment to suffer an embarrassing penalty miss. It would have set up a grandstand finish with the Gunners have pressed for the entire second half without any reward. Victory would have taken Arsenal top of the Barclays Premier League but their old inconsistencies were raised again.
MOAN OF THE MATCH:
Arsenal's injury problems continue to mount as they lost Francis Coquelin and his replacement Mikel Arteta. Midfielder Arteta's nightmare afternoon was compounded after he scored a scrappy own goal to gift West Brom the lead. The Gunners were already missing Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Tomas Rosicky, Danny Welbeck and Jack Wilshere. If they want to maintain their title challenge the Gunners must start clearing the treatment room quickly.
VIEW FROM THE DUGOUT:
Arsenal have been tipped to sustain a title challenge this season but Arsene Wenger will need to nip this defeat in the bud. West Brom went in at the break having scored twice despite just one shot on target but Tony Pulis will not complain. The boss has felt his players have deserved more points this season and while they rode their luck Pulis will be rightly pleased with their efforts.
WHO'S UP NEXT?
West Ham v West Brom, November 29 (Premier League)
Arsenal v Dinamo Zagreb, November 24 (Champions League)