English Premiership

Welbeck sinks Albion

2014-11-29 17:20
Danny Welbeck (Supplied)

West Bromwich - Danny Welbeck's header eased the pressure on Arsene Wenger as Arsenal made it two victories in a week with a 1-0 success at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.

England striker Welbeck struck on the hour mark at the Hawthorns to boost the Gunners' top-four aspirations following successive defeats in their last two Premier League matches.

That had left Wenger's position under scrutiny, yet the picture now looks more positive for the Arsenal manager and his team following this win and a midweek success over Borussia Dortmund which secured their place in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Arsenal had to dig deep against a Baggies side set up to frustrate and hit them on the counter-attack, yet the home side's resistance was eventually broken by Welbeck's first club goal in seven outings.

Wenger was able to start with Welbeck, Alexis Sanchez and the fit-again Olivier Giroud for the first time, however it was Santi Cazorla who starred for his team with an assist from the Spaniard capping an excellent display.

While Wenger began the day as the manager under the spotlight, it was his opposite number Alan Irvine who ended the day feeling some pressure after supporters reacted with frustration to his tactics and substitutions.

England manager Roy Hodgson, in attendance at his former club, saw two of his players go head-to-head early on as Aaron Ramsey slid Welbeck in, only for England international Ben Foster to dart from his line and save smartly.

The West Brom goalkeeper had a fortunate escape in the 28th minute, however, when outside of his area close to the left corner flag, he gifted possession to Giroud, yet the angle proved too acute for the France international.

As half-time approached, it was the visitors who were very much in the ascendancy and, once again, the Baggies could count themselves lucky to avoid conceding following an individual error.

Youssouf Mulumbu gifted possession cheaply on the edge of the home side's area to Cazorla, who fed the advancing Ramsey only for the Welshman to shoot narrowly beyond the post.

There were a few murmurings of discontent from the stands on the half-time whistle after an unambitious opening 45 minutes from the home side.

Irvine's team would need to dig deeper for victory and within seconds of the restart they demonstrated just that.

A probing ball from Craig Gardner put Saido Berahino, who started despite being the centre of controversy over his drink-drive arrest, clean through only for the offside flag to be raised. Replays suggested it was a harsh call.

Foster had another moment to forget when he dropped a high ball, allowing Giroud to lay the ball off to Per Mertesacker, but, with the goalkeeper still stranded, he could only fire wide.

Gardner and Berahino combined again to good effect as the former Sunderland player sent the striker through from the left channel, however he could only find the side-netting with his shot.

But West Brom soon found themselves behind as Cazorla got the better of Andre Wisdom before lifting an inviting cross for Welbeck, whose header proved too powerful for Foster.

Irvine's game plan had to change and Victor Anichebe was almost immediately introduced for Mulumbu to add more power to his attack.

Next came Georgios Samaras for Stephane Sessegnon to a chorus of 'You don't know what you're doing' aimed at Irvine from the home fans.

Yet Albion's threat grew, with Chris Brunt first seeing a vicious strike blocked by Mertesacker before Berahino headed against the crossbar from Graham Dorrans' cross.

It proved too little, too late, however.

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