Three things we learnt from Arsenal’s critical victory over West Brom
Arsenal went into their Boxing Day encounter with West Bromwich Albion desperately needing to get back on track after damaging defeats against Everton and Manchester City saw them lose ground to leaders Chelsea.
The Baggies, on the other hand, were looking to continue their excellent pre-Christmas form, which saw them go into the fixture in eighth place after winning four of their last seven games.
Tony Pulis’ side, unsurprisingly, set up defensively and allowed Arsenal to control possession in the midfield – at times reaching 80% – yet the Gunners struggled to find a way through in a first half where they only managed a single shot on target.
Unfortunately for the home side, when they eventually broke down West Brom’s stubborn defence they were faced with Foster in inspired form; a superb double save from Alex Iwobi and Alexis Sanchez set the tone for the second-half as Arsenal began to rack up the shots on target.
It seemed like the Gunners were going to leave the Emirates frustrated and drop further behind Chelsea in the table until Olivier Giroud, making his first Premier League start of the season, popped up in the 86th minute and finally broke the resistance of Foster to secure all three points.
The result sees Arsenal stay nine points behind Chelsea, after their record 12th consecutive league victory over Bournemouth, and draw level on points with Liverpool who play Stoke tonight.
We take a look back at three things that were learnt from the Boxing Day clash.
Ben Foster is still one of the best English goalkeepers
Without a doubt, Ben Foster has been playing like a man possessed this season for West Brom, and it’s a huge reason as to why Tony Pulis’ side are flying so high in the Premier League.
Foster has been influential in a number of games this season, and his performance against Arsenal was no exception; he made ten saves as he single-handedly kept the Gunners at bay for 86 minutes, pulling of a string of fine saves to deny the dangerous Alexis Sanchez amongst others.
The former-England goalkeeper has improved his ability in the air this year as well, making 100% of his claims from crosses over his 18 appearances, and is becoming one of the best all-round goalkeepers that England has to offer.
If Foster can maintain this form during the second-half of the Premier League season, it could become hard for new England manager Gareth Southgate to ignore the West Brom man.
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