In a match that saw Gareth Barry break the all-time record for Premier League appearances, it was Arsenal’s Alexandre Lacazette that stole the headlines as his double secured victory over West Brom.
The £46.5 million signing from Lyon was in the right place at the right time to capitalise on Alexis Sanchez’s free-kick to put the hosts ahead, before nonchalantly slotting a second-half penalty away.
West Brom will feel aggrieved not to have been awarded an early penalty though when Shkodran Mustafi brought down Jay Rodriguez in the box, with Bobby Madley allowing play to go on instead.
But it wasn’t to be, and Arsenal held firm to secure their third consecutive home victory of the new Premier League season to take them to within six points of the runaway Manchester sides at the top.
633 not out – Barry the record-breaker
There’s only one place to start after last night as West Brom midfielder Gareth Barry become the Premier League’s all-time record holder for appearances, stepping onto the field for the 633rd time.
He might not have enjoyed as illustrious career as the man he beat, Ryan Giggs, but Barry has no doubt stamped his mark on the top-flight since making his Aston Villa bow as a 17-year-old in 1998.
During his four-club career, playing for Villa, Manchester City, Everton and now West Brom, Barry has accrued 601 Premier League starts and managed to win two pieces of silverware – securing the memorable last-gasp Premier League title with City in 2011-12 and adding it to an FA Cup triumph.
On an international level he’s made 53 appearances for England, scoring three times, and he was part of the starting line-up that lost 4-1 to Germany in the FIFA World Cup 2010 in infamously controversial style.
Monday night he put in a typically unfussy performance, tidily sitting in the middle of the park as the Baggies’ captain for the night after a nice touch from manager Tony Pulis, and he’s not done just yet.
3 – Lacazette on fire in north London
Whilst Alvaro Morata and Romelu Lukaku are the ones that are taking all of the plaudits since their respective summer moves, club-record man Alexandre Lacazette seems to be going under the radar.
The French international arrived in the Premier League with a mightily impressive goal-scoring record for Lyon and he’s shown no signs of letting that slip with a relentless start to life in England.
In scoring his match-winning double on Monday night Lacazette became the first Arsenal player to ever score in their first three home Premier League matches, setting hopes high for what’s to come.
He proved to be the difference between a dogged Baggies side, completing 100% of his four take-ons in an inventive display, and he nearly had a hat-trick only to blaze over when through on goal.
Just to put into perspective how good a player Arsenal have found themselves, Lacazette has scored once every 88 minutes since August 2016 – the sixth best record of anyone in Europe’s top five leagues – above Harry Kane, Robert Lewandowski, Luis Suarez and Cristiano Ronaldo, not exactly bad company to keep.
10 – Consecutive losses for Pulis at the Emirates
When your luck’s not in, what can you do.
That’s exactly what West Brom manager Tony Pulis will be thinking this morning as a costly penalty decision went against him and condemned him to a tenth defeat at the Emirates from ten attempts.
In that time-frame – spanning his managerial career at both Stoke City and the Baggies – he’s seen his side fail to trouble the hosts once, scoring just three times in 900 minutes of action and conceding 22.
It could have been so different had referee Bobby Madley awarded West Brom an early penalty following Mustafi’s reckless challenge, but the fact Rodriguez got straight back up and tested Petr Cech with a shot against the post was perhaps deemed enough of an advantage to let play go on.
There aren’t many that will argue against the stonewall nature of the penalty and Pulis will be looking back at last night’s match pondering ‘what could have been’ after a tenth straight defeat away at Arsenal.
12 – Monreal puts in a defensive shift
Despite Arsenal’s troubles at the back in the first six games of the Premier League season one man who has been quietly making an impression is Nacho Monreal, and he was inspired again last night.
Since his FA Cup semi-final goal against Manchester City last season he’s become something of a favourite around the Emirates and his performances have warranted him a regular first-team role.
He’s been a relative figure of consistency in an often make-shift back-line too, being used as a left-back, a left-wing back and a central defender before seemingly finding his niche position on the left side of a defensive three, and he’s beginning to thrive playing alongside captain Laurent Koscielny.
After a nervy start from the Gunners he marshalled West Brom’s attacking threat well and was on hand to superbly hook the ball off the line from Rodriguez’s headed effort to keep the hosts ahead.
He contributed four clearances, two tackles and six interceptions in a solid defensive display against West Brom, as well as finishing the game with a 94% passing accuracy and, slowly but surely, he’s becoming a pivotal and indispensable first-team player for Arsene Wenger.