Following their disappointing 1-1 draw on Sunday against Palace, Alexis Sánchez came to the fore and netted a well-taken brace to give the edgy Emirates crowd much-needed respite on Thursday evening.
Considering Arsenal‘s shortcomings of late, and the way they’ve managed to slip away from the title challenge following a succession of frustrating results, it was a must-win game for them on Thursday evening. West Bromwich Albion are again, by no means, an easy side to beat: but one that the Gunners should’ve had no trouble prevailing against.
Alexis’ brace gives Gunners some welcome cheer
A well-taken brace courtesy of Alexis Sánchez either side of the half-time interval, helped Arséne Wenger‘s side to victory. Given the occasion, and following recent results, this fixture had an end-of-season feel to it. On a school night, plenty of home supporters were eager to voice their concerns over the nature of progression – or seemingly lack of – from their side.
But following Yannick Bolasie‘s low drive on Sunday, many felt they needed to make a stand. Although the Emirates‘ atmosphere is generally looked at as quiet, it honestly felt silent for the most part, and the lively Chilean was one of few bright sparks looking to get the crowd off their feet.
Two well-taken goals, from a world-class forward
Alexis’ first goal was a neatly worked long-range effort, after swiveling past his marker with his low centre of gravity, before shaping to strike – leaving Ben Foster helpless to break the deadlock. His second was similar in terms of precision, but from a free-kick this time. The wall was in place but a number of Arsenal players did their respective jobs well to confuse and leave Foster guessing until the last second, waiting for Alexis to strike before ducking under the way, and the Englishman could only watch it nestle into the far corner – gesticulating angrily at his defensive counterparts for failing to deal with it.
Bellerín continues to justify TotY inclusion
His direct running, quick trickery and eyecatching movement was a sight to savour for fans who’ve been longing for more of the same, to much frustration over the past few months. Hector Bellerín, just hours after being revealed as one of the players in the PFA Team of the Year, was excellent going forward and equally reliable defensively as he looked determined to make his mark on the match too.
Elneny effective as usual whilst Özil also involved
Mohamed Elneny and Mesut Özil, the latter a surprising omission from the aforementioned TotY, were also heavily involved and effective throughout – though the same cannot be stressed for Olivier Giroud. The experienced Frenchman’s Premier League goalscoring drought continues, and he honestly looks zapped of his motivation – something that spurred him forward in the earlier stages of the campaign.
He’s been displaced by the likes of Danny Welbeck in the pecking order, and questions will continue to arise with this summer looming: how will he stake his claim to stay in the team next season with seemingly average performances like these?
With Sunderland away next in Arsenal’s sights, they’ve got a battle on their hands to remain in the top three with Manchester City ready to pounce, whilst Manchester rivals United and West Ham are both equally eager for a Champions League qualification place as the season draws to a close.