After a fast exit in the UEFA Champions League, Arsenal F.C. tasted defeat on Saturday in an EPL road trip to West Bromwich Albion.
Arsene Wenger‘s side have struggled to find their usual form after two humiliating defeats in the UCL Round of 16 against Bayern Munich. Arsenal may have an F.A. Cup semifinal against Manchester City coming up in April, but they are also in danger of missing out on European football next season.
Tony Pulis‘ West Brom have been a good surprise this season, sitting in the top-half for most of the season. They welcomed Arsenal to the Hawthorns on Saturday looking to move even closer to a possible Europa League spot.
Defender Craig Dawson put the Baggies ahead 1-0 after heading home his second goal of the season in the 12th minute. However, the hosts lead lasted only three minutes as Alexis Sanchez equalized for Arsenal from close range.
It was the Chilean’s 22nd goal in all competitions this season, and his 18th in the EPL.
Darren Fletcher came close to putting West Brom back in front, but saw his 34th minute effort saved by Gunners keeper Petr Cech.
Following the halftime break, West Brom made it 2-1 as substitute striker Hal Robson-Kanu netted his second league goal, after only being on the pitch a minute.
Ten minutes later saw Danny Welbeck hit the bar with a header from close range that would have leveled Arsenal for the second time in the match.
Dawson’s 75th minute header gave West Brom a 3-1 lead, and the three points after the defender was left wide-open inside the box. It was West Brom’s second consecutive home league win over the Gunners, which move them six points behind seventh place Manchester United.
Despite 77% of the match possession, Arsenal were outplayed by West Brom who had eight shots-on-goal.
Following the match, Tony Pulis praised his teams efforts in a post-game interview with BBC. “The lads have worked so hard in all the games. I thought we’d never play as well as what we have played. They’ve never given anything but their best. The lads were a bit disappointed with two defeats. They’ve done fantastically well. They’ve carried on working so hard together as a group. I thought on the counter we always looked dangerous.”
The future for Arsene Wenger at Arsenal seems very dim indeed. The team isn’t playing to their expectations, while they could see themselves not qualify for European football for the first time in the Wenger era. They currently sit five points outside of the top-four but that could extend to as high as eight if Liverpool defeat Manchester City on Sunday.
Following the international break, Arsenal host Manchester City on April 2nd at the Emirates in which could be seen as a must-win. West Brom travel to Manchester United on April 1st, before reasonable matches against Watford and Southampton after that.
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