Don’t let the win change your mind. Arsenal are still slow, predictable and easy to defend against. When a referee gives Santi Cazorla a penalty after a disgraceful dive, helping Mikel Arteta convert from the spot twice for contreversial reasons, there wasn’t much need for a great performance.
Not that West Brom deserved to win. They had 8 shots at goal with only one on target. Arsenal had 19 attempts, 3 on target. They enjoyed most of the possession, but looks boring as most of their matches in recent weeks. At least they finally put up some goals on the scoreboard.
The problem is that they didn’t deserve to get those goals. Santi Cazorla added more reasons for critics to blame foreigners for bringing their diving cultures to the Premier League; The penalty Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain won followed a foul in favor of West Brom that was never called. West Brom should have been given a penalty kick themselves. Arsenal didn’t do much to create danger throughout the match, leaving Wenger happy with the three points, but not about his team’s ability.
The only real danger on a more consistent basis came from Gervinho, partnered with Olivier Giroud up front. A month ago we thought that Giroud finding a scoring touch meant that the French striker is going to provide a bit more now that he’s got his confidence back. Four weeks later, it seems like the leading scorer last season in Ligue 1 is becoming another Marouane Chamakh, unless Wenger finds some way to change the path Giroud is on.
For now, while he’s completely dependent on the midfield and others to create chances for him, someone as predictable and sluggish as Giroud isn’t going to give much. Crosses aren’t the Arsenal way, and Giroud loses pretty much his only advantage when there’s no aerial game to take advantage of. Gervinho creates for himself and others through his unpredictability, but his last touch and finishing ability are quite poor for what you’d like your striker to have.
Theo Walcott is on his way out, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is on his up, at least in importance to the squad. Besides winning a penalty kick and one acrobatic scissor kick, he didn’t do much. Like Walcott in his earlier days, without space to run forward in, Chamberlain’s uses are very hard to find. Against most teams that come to the Emirates and show up with defensive tactics, Chamberlain is quite redundant at the moment. The problem is that other players on the wide positions, like Lukas Podolski, aren’t adding much more to their attacking play.
For once, an aggressive team didn’t make a laughing stock of Arsenal’s defense. West Brom were too happy to come out with a draw in this one, and couldn’t make the right kind of switch in their style to make some sort of comeback, which has happened in previous seasons. Arteta played responsibly as the defensive midfielder while Mertesacker and Vermaelen did a very good job in the middle of it all.
Arsenal don’t look like a team that can challenge for any kind of title, unless they get a little bit lucky in the FA Cup. The Champions League campaign won’t go on beyond the quarterfinals, once again. The league campaign can’t be anything more than a chase after a fourth spot in the Champions League. The two Manchester teams are too far ahead to catch, and Chelsea are a much better side, despite all of their problems.