London - In-form Chilean forward Alexis
Sanchez struck twice as Arsenal defeated West Bromwich Albion 2-0 on Thursday
to re-assert their hold on a Champions League berth in the Premier League.
Booed off following Sunday's 1-1 draw at
home to Crystal Palace, Arsenal delivered a more clinical display at the
Emirates Stadium as Sanchez took his tally to five goals in four games, and 16
for the season, with a first-half brace from outside the box.
After consecutive draws, Arsenal manager
Arsene Wenger will have been relieved to see his team record their 500th
Premier League victory, which lifted them above Manchester City and into third
"We did the job in a serious way. We
played well technically and the only regret is we should have scored more
goals," Wenger said.
"It looks like Sanchez is back
sharper, more confident. In the first half he was exceptional.
"Of course we have regrets. We had two
draws when we should have won the game several times and when you do that, you
pay for it."
The result also served to keep Arsenal's
title challenge mathematically alive, but with leaders Leicester City 10 points
above them, the north London club's chief objective over their final four games
will be to hold off fifth-place Manchester United, who they lead by four
West Brom, who have lost three successive
games for the first time this season, remain 10 points clear of the relegation
zone, but they are unlikely to feel completely safe until they register another
"We were off it tonight," said
beaten manager Tony Pulis. "The players have given me everything this
"We have played well at all of the big
teams this year, but not tonight. Sometimes you have to take defeat on the
Rumours of a mass boycott by disgruntled
Arsenal fans were not fully borne out, but it was possible to discern some 10 000
bare seats as this re-arranged fixture kicked off.
One of three Arsenal changes from the
stalemate with Palace saw Aaron Ramsey make his first start in a month after a
thigh injury and the Welsh midfielder played a part in the hosts' sixth-minute
The goal was all Sanchez's own work,
however, as he gathered Ramsey's square pass, brilliantly spun away from Sandro
and drilled a low shot into the bottom-left corner.
A sequence of set-pieces briefly offered
West Brom hope and after Sanchez survived a handball appeal when he flicked the
ball against his own hand inside the Arsenal box, Gareth McAuley hit the bar
with a header from James McClean's in-swinging corner.
But Arsenal were soon back on the front
foot and West Brom goalkeeper Ben Foster almost embarrassed himself by allowing
a tame Mesut Ozil shot to creep between his legs, forcing Craig Dawson to clear
off the line.
In the 38th minute Sanchez made it 2-0,
flashing a free-kick past a flat-footed Foster.
Pulis made a double-change at half-time,
sending on Jonas Olsson and Salomon Rondon for James Chester and Sandro and
switching to a bolder 4-4-2 formation.
But the second half's main talking points
occurred in the visitors' box as first Alex Iwobi and then Mohamed Elneny
avoided bookings for going down in search of penalties, despite referee Jon
Moss having shown Leicester City's Jamie Vardy a second yellow card for diving
While McClean put a header straight at home
goalkeeper Petr Cech and Ramsey produced an impeccably timed challenge to halt
Stephane Sessegnon, the rest of the game was a tale of rolling Arsenal attacks.
Foster saved from Ozil and, with his face,
Olivier Giroud, while Ramsey put an attempted chip over the bar and substitute
Joel Campbell fired wide.