Van Persie inspires Arsenal
Robin van Persie (Getty Images)
London - Robin van Persie scored one and set up two as Arsenal stretched their winning run to four in the Premier League with a 3-0 win over West Bromwich Albion here Saturday.
The in-form Dutchman scored the opening goal before providing the assists for Thomas Vermaelen and Mikel Arteta, as West Brom offered little resistance.
And although Gervinho showed flashes of brilliance, there was little argument as to who Arsenal's most valuable player is, as they continued their remarkable resurgence.
Van Persie, who had scored seven goals in his previous four league starts, was restored to the starting line-up after being rested on the bench for last Tuesday's 0-0 Champions League draw against Marseille.
His form has been instrumental in the Gunners winning five of seven Premier League matches since their 8-2 drubbing against Manchester United on August 28.
But for all the talk of Arsenal's resurgence following their poor start to the season, there have still been question marks over their defence.
And it was central defender Per Mertesacker who paid for the shaky form of the back four by dropping to the bench.
West Brom, meanwhile, have been hard to beat on their travels and headed into the game having collected seven of their 11 points this season away from home.
And their last visit to the Emirates resulted in a 3-2 win for the West Midlands side, under previous manager Roberto di Matteo.
This time, visiting manager Roy Hodgson opted to crowd his midfield in order to starve service to van Persie. And for the first 22 minutes, it worked.
But then Aaron Ramsey spotted a space and fed the ball to Theo Walcott to burst up the right flank.
His shot was saved by goalkeeper Ben Foster, but the England international failed to keep hold of the ball and it rolled into the path of van Persie, who put away the easiest of chances from four yards out.
Five minutes before half time, Arsenal had a second - with van Persie turning provider for Vermaelen.
Alex Song's cross was volleyed across the face of goal and after Gervinho missed his cue, the ball fell for Belgian defender Vermaelen, who fired a powerful shot for his first goal since February 2010.
The 2-0 half-time lead was fully deserved for Arsenal, who looked to have barely broken a sweat against West Brom.
And eight minutes into the second half the home side almost had a third, but for Gareth McAuley's foot getting in the way of Walcott's cross which was heading for the feet of Gervinho.
Gervinho came close to setting up Ramsey on the hour, but the Arsenal midfielder - who has recently added his support to appearing in a Great Britain team at the 2012 Olympics - sliced his shot wide of goal.
It was one-way traffic for Arsenal and it seemed a matter of time before West Brom would concede again.
However they were forced to wait until the 74th minute before they extended their lead with the best goal of the game.
Van Persie took the ball in the middle of the pitch to the edge of the area, then cut it back for Arteta to calmly slot home for his first goal at the Emirates.