Arsenal sure like testing their fans’ patience don’t they? The Gunners huffed and puffed and often came up against a stubborn West Brom defence at the Emirates but got the job done in the end. The goal, courtesy of an Olivier Giroud Header, ensured that they stayed nine points behind league leaders Chelsea but more than the win, the game in general brought out more questions. Here are three talking points from the game.
Are Arsenal over-reliant on Alexis Sanchez?
The Chilean was once again at the heart of everything in the Arsenal side. The Gunners are negotiating a new contract with the Chilean, but so good is his form, they simply have to give in and extend his stay to ward off potential suitors.
Sanchez had as many as nine attempts in total and even hit the post once. On another day, it would have been him opening the goal scoring for the North Londoners. Played on the left-hand side earlier today instead of the false nine role that he’s thrived in, Sanchez showed he can cause a lot of problems. Coupled with Gibbs’ forward forays, Arsenal often created a lot from the left.
The big question is though, can Arsenal do it without Sanchez? They’re entering a key phase now, a time when games will come thick and fast. So players like Ozil and Ramsey need to step up and take the load of the Chilean who it seems can go on forever considering his stamina.
West Brom can look at a top half finish
West Brom have had a tough few weeks that has brought them back to earth after the dizzying heights of seventh in the league table. There’s clearly a pattern here; they seem to come up short against the better sides but don’t have a problem against teams who are in mid-table and lower table.
Convincing performances against Burnley, Watford and relegation-strugglers Swansea had many believe they were going to be a threat to the likes of Chelsea and Man United, but Pulis’ side came up short. They did make life difficult for Chelsea and Arsenal though.
They have some good players who could potentially help them finish in the top half if they play consistently. Won’t be the worst of finishes by any stretch of the imagination.
Olivier Giroud will be key
Olivier Giroud’s goal-droughts have often come at the wrong phases for Arsenal. Luckily, though, Wenger has saved him for a crucial phase and his first start yielded the team a goal, so it could be a good decision by the Gaffer. Giroud didn’t have the best 90 minutes against West Brom, but he’s in such good form that he eventually scored despite not getting too many chances.
With Sanchez playing on the left, the creativity will increase behind Giroud and he could thrive in the setup in what promises to be a busy period for the Gunners.
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