Arsenal’s mounting woes continued as West Brom inflicted a morale-sapping defeat, pegging them back in their fight to maintain their top-four place.
Defender Craig Dawson’s brace helped West Brom to a 3-1 victory over the Gunners, who have now lost four Premier League games in their last five, the only win coming against relegation-threatened Hull.
Dawson headed in both his goals from corners thanks to some woeful Arsenal defending, which were West Brom’s 13th and 14th goals of the season from set-pieces.
Arsene Wenger looked increasingly under pressure as the game wore on, with the debate over whether to renew his contract taking yet another twist.
Welbeck and Walcott looked like peripheral figures throughout the afternoon
Two planes towing messages appeared over the Hawthorns, one against a contract renewal, and the other supporting the French manager. Only Arsenal fans could decide that two separate plane protests were worth spending money on.
By the end of the game it were fans in the anti-Wenger camp who were in the ascendancy. Arsenal now sit five points off fourth-placed Liverpool, albeit with a game in hand.
West Brom did look very impressive as they defeated a team in the top seven for the first time this season as they continued their quest to break their record points tally of 49.
It was suggested before the match that Tony Pulis sides switch off once they get to the magic 40 point mark, but this display suggested there was still a lot of fight in this Baggies side.
For Arsenal, there were only flickers of what they can do; Alexis Sanchez smashed in the equaliser in the 15th minute and occasionally looked like his usual self. His 18th goal of this season means he has been involved in 27 league goals, more than any other player.
Wenger: “It leaves us in a unique situation that we’ve never had before. We face big problems to regroup and find resources to sort out the problem.”
Welbeck and Walcott looked like peripheral figures throughout the afternoon, although Welbeck did get one of Arsenal’s best chances of the second half when he smashed his header against the bar.
Following Arsenal’s equaliser, West Brom’s second goal came from Hal Robson-Kanu with his first touch of the game after a defensive mix up in the Arsenal box, resulting in substitute goalkeeper David Ospina gifting the chance to the Welsh striker.
Ospina was brought on after Petr Cech pulled up whilst passing out to Granit Xhaka, an injury Wenger may come to rue by the end of the season.
When Sanchez was substituted for Alex Iwobi the away fans chanted “you don’t know what you’re doing” to the Arsenal manager, whose record of always getting Arsenal in the top four is now seriously under threat.
Speaking after the game, Wenger said: “It leaves us in a unique situation that we’ve never had before. We face big problems to regroup and find resources to sort out the problem. We need some togetherness.
“We face some serious challenges. The City game at home is a big game for us.”
Arsenal face Manchester City at the Emirates on the 2nd April after the international break, a match that is looking crucial to whether Arsenal truly collapse this season.
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