Giroud is the Gooners’ Saviour
Olivier Giroud lifted Arsenal’s spirits with a vital goal as they struggled to overcome West Bromwich Albion’s stubborn resistance.
It wasn’t a pretty match by any standards but with Chelsea and Manchester City both winning, three points were vital. The first half was abysmal. Albion, in typical Pulis fashion, wasted time from the kick-off but timid refereeing saw Foster receive the only card for this with full-time on the horizon.
The winner was footballing karma. The Baggies rode their luck and took hope from our poor finishing to get through to the final seven minutes without conceding. Then, a hopeful rather well-intended cross, found Giroud holding off several Baggies defenders to loop a header over Foster into the net. It was a typical Pulis goal and hopefully it’s driving him nuts that we’ve scored it.
Giroud had done nothing of note to that point. Then again, neither had anyone else. It’s unfair to single out one player as being poor without looking at the rest of the team. Alexis, for example, dropped two howlers when he thundered a shot against the post from ten yards out having seen Foster block his follow-up to Alex Iwobi’s initial effort.
The stats tell us that there were 26 shots on goal from Arsenal with eleven on target. Take out the woodwork and Giroud’s goal, and you get some idea of how well Ben Foster played today. The England ‘keeper was the reason we didn’t take the pent-up frustration of the back-to-back defeats at Everton and Manchester City, out on West Brom.
But we were awful in the first half. As Giroud said afterwards, facing six defenders, three midfielders and one up front is tough but that’s what happens when you’re at Arsenal; smaller clubs won’t roll over and let you take all three points very often. They will fight and they will try to take points because there is a wealth of history to show that it can be done.
I would like to say that we were very strong as a team, with a good, strong mentality and it was very important to win. We have shown a big mental strength once again.
It’s a contrast to Arsène’s comments which appeared to blame supporters for the players’ mental fragility even though he keeps telling us how strong the squad is. Blaming supporters never ends well for managers.
The win puts pressure on Spurs. While I can’t give up on the title just yet, we’re more in danger of dropping out of the top four than being crowned champions. Over the years they have never handled pressure well so if we can induce another collapse by always picking up more points than them, it suits our purposes.
But we do need to improve. This was good practice for the visit of Crystal Palace this week. Sam Allardyce showed that he is not intent on playing football in the Eagles terrible match at Watford. If at all possible, they were even more uninspiring than West Brom and that takes some doing.
We need to be better but for the moment, three more points is all we needed and it’s what we got.