Late West Brom Goal Denies Arsenal Three Points
English Premier League Report: West Bromwich Albion v Arsenal 31 December 2017
English Premier League
Result: West Bromwich Albion 1-1 Arsenal
Date: 31 December 2017
Venue: The Hawthorns
Arsène Wenger’s record-breaking 811th Premier League game as a manager ended in disappointment as Arsenal were held to a 1-1 draw by West Brom at the Hawthorns on Sunday.
The Gunners suffered a blow before kick-off as Mesut Özil was ruled out of the game by a knee injury. The in-form German’s place was taken by Alex Iwobi.
Having scored six goals in their two previous games, Arsenal struggled to find the same incisiveness going forward in the first half. To his credit, Iwobi was arguably their most positive player in the opening stages, firing narrowly over in the 16th minute and forcing Ben Foster to palm his shot away in the 30th.
All in all, there were few chances at either end before half-time, and the sides went in deadlocked at 0-0.
The second half got off to a similarly slow start. However, in the 60th minute, Alexandre Lacazette was presented with a promising chance as he received a layoff from Iwobi, surged through, and fired the ball at goal from inside the box. Foster stuck a leg out to make a good save.
That chance seemed to alert Arsenal to the scent of blood. Lacazette could have had another glorious opportunity moments later, but Jonny Evans put him off as he tried to control an Alexis Sánchez pass right in front of Foster. The Gunners continued to pile the pressure on, with the Baggies defence putting out fire after fire.
In the 77th minute, Albion caught Arsenal off guard as Jay Rodriguez was allowed to run and shoot. He fired straight at Petr Čech, who batted his effort away.
The deadlock was finally broken at the other end six minutes later. Sánchez’s free-kick from the edge of the area took a hefty deflection to send it into the net.
However, Albion were handed a lifeline in the 88th minute, when Mike Dean awarded them a penalty for what he viewed as a handball from Calum Chambers. Jay Rodriguez fired down the middle and levelled the scores.
That goal proved decisive as Arsenal finished the year three points behind fourth-placed Liverpool. West Brom moved off the bottom of the table on goal difference.