Premier League
West BromWest Bromwich Albion3ArsenalArsenal1

West Bromwich Albion 3-1 Arsenal

By Phil DawkesBBC Sport
Craig Dawson heads in the opener
Dawson headed in West Brom's 13th and 14th goals from corners this season

Arsenal suffered a fourth defeat in five league games as Craig Dawson's double helped West Brom inflict a major blow to the Gunners' hopes of a top-four finish.

Dawson capitalised on some awful defending from the Gunners to head both of his goals from corners - the first to give the Baggies the lead, the second to seal their win.

Arsenal had initially rallied after falling behind, levelling through Alexis Sanchez's close-range finish - the Chilean forward's 18th league goal of the season.

However, they fell behind again 10 minutes into the second half when substitute Hal Robson-Kanu rolled the ball home with only his second touch after coming on.

Arsenal, who lost goalkeeper Petr Cech to injury, were outfought and unable to rally a second time, their challenge wilting soon after Danny Welbeck's header from a corner struck the crossbar.

It was an eventful encounter, both on the pitch and above it as two planes pulling banners - one pro-Arsene Wenger and the other against the Arsenal boss - made circles around The Hawthorns.

It was the anti-Wenger camp who were most present and vocal by the end, though, holding aloft banners declaring 'Enough is enough' and booing their beleaguered manager's decision to substitute Sanchez, who had picked up a knock.

After the game, Wenger said that he would announce "very soon" whether he will remain at the club after reaching a decision on his future.

The current facts are these - Arsenal trail fourth place by five points (albeit with a game in hand).

They must arrest a run that has seen them win just one of their last five league games if they are to continue their proud record of finishing in the top four in each of Wenger's 20 seasons at the club so far.

The end is nigh?

West Brom passes v Arsenal passes
An illustrative mess: Arsenal totally dominated possession but could not translate that superiority into victory. The Gunners enjoyed 77% of the ball, making 750 passes (above right) to West Brom's 219 (above left)

After claiming a top-two finish in every season between 1997-98 and 2004-05, Arsenal have often flirted with fifth or worse since, but this is looking increasingly likely to be the campaign when they drop below the division's premier quartet.

There is also a growing feeling this is likely to be Wenger's last as manager.

A two-year contract extension remains on the table but with fan protests growing in size and volume, rumours of players wanting away from the club and form deteriorating, there may be no appetite for it to be signed, by either manager or club.

This result felt like a new low during Wenger's tenure.

Fans hold banners calling for Arsene Wenger to leave Arsenal
Fans hold banners at the Hawthorns calling for Arsene Wenger to leave Arsenal

The Gunners boss is used to seeing his side outfought and beaten at the home of teams managed by Tony Pulis - he has only managed one win in eight such encounters - but the lack of chances they created from almost 77% possession and the speed with which they fell apart after Robson-Kanu's goal, lays bare a side with dwindling belief and backbone.

They rallied efficiently after falling behind, but this also speaks to their over-reliance on Sanchez, whose movement made the goal and who remained their only real creative spark, despite the heavy-handed treatment dealt out to him by the home side.

Their vulnerability at the back is alarming. They knew about West Brom's threat from corners - the Baggies have now scored 14 from them this season - but yet they were unable to prevent Dawson twice getting his head to the ball first in the box to score.

Robson-Kanu's goal was equally damning as Ospina proved an inadequate replacement for Cech, sliding out to meet a chipped ball over the top and gifting the striker his finish.

West Brom corner poor Arsenal

Hal Robson-Kanu (right) celebrates scoring
Hal Robson-Kanu scored with his second touch of the game, just 75 seconds after coming off the bench

West Brom have never managed more than 49 Premier League points. Prior to Saturday they had not managed to beat a top-seven team this season.

Having rectified the latter, they now look on course to better the former.

They came into this game having lost their last two games and from the off it was clear they were not prepared to entertain the prospect of suffering three successive defeats for the first time this campaign.

But for Cech, they could have been ahead before Dawson broke the deadlock, with the Gunners keeper tipping away Darren Fletcher's goalbound drive.

When they were pegged back by Sanchez, their belief held, as did their faith in Pulis' game plan, which also stretched to superbly-timed substitutions.

It helps, of course, when you are so lethal from set-pieces and your opponent so incapable of defending them.

Man of the match - Craig Dawson (West Brom)

Craig Dawson (centre)
Craig Dawson has scored three goals in his last four Premier League appearances, as many as in his previous 55

'We face some serious challenges' - What the managers said

West Brom manager Tony Pulis, after ending a run of two defeats: "I think everybody's got to calm down. You're always going to have runs of games where you don't pick points up. You raise the expectation and people get carried away.

West Brom 3-1 Arsenal: Pulis not taking credit for sub Robson-Kanu's goal

"The lads have worked so hard in all the games. I thought we'd never play as well as what we have played. They've never given anything but their best.

"The lads were a bit disappointed with two defeats. They've done fantastically well. They've carried on working so hard together as a group. I thought on the counter we always looked dangerous.

"We've got 43 points. We know where we are as a football club. We're not getting carried away.

"We'll do the best we possibly can. If we win games, brilliant. If we don't we've still got a group of honest players who give everything."

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: "It was a typical Premier League game. A team that likes to play and a team that defends well.

Wenger disappointed with Arsenal defenders

"It was a tough performance. They caught us on set-pieces and one break and that made the difference.

"Overall our record against set-pieces is quite good. We were a bit naive, maybe, on the corners. Then we were punished. It's a shame. We looked in the second half to take completely over.

"We didn't create enough. We lost Sanchez in the second half, he was very dangerous in the first. He came out in the second half and he couldn't move any more. In the first half he was a guy who created a lot.

"It leaves us in a unique situation that we've never had before. We face big problems to regroup and find resources to sort out the problem. We need some togetherness.

"We face some serious challenges. The City game at home is a big game for us."

Sanchez hits 100 - the stats you need to know

  • Arsenal have lost four out of five Premier League games for the first time in since April 1995.
  • Alexis Sanchez has been involved in 27 PL goals this season (18 goals, nine assists) - more than any other player in the competition.
  • Overall, Sanchez has now been involved in 100 goals for the Gunners in all competitions, scoring 64 and assisting 36.
  • There were just two minutes and 45 seconds between the first two goals in this game.

What next?

The international break means the Gunners host Manchester City on Sunday, 2 April.

West Brom take on the other Manchester side that weekend, with United hosting the Baggies on Saturday, 1 April.


West Brom

Formation 4-5-1

  • 1Foster
  • 25Dawson
  • 23McAuley
  • 6Evans
  • 2Nyom
  • 22ChadliSubstituted forFieldat 90'minutes
  • 24Fletcher
  • 8Livermore
  • 11BruntSubstituted forYacobat 72'minutes
  • 14McCleanBooked at 42mins
  • 9RondónSubstituted forRobson-Kanuat 54'minutes


  • 3Olsson
  • 4Robson-Kanu
  • 5Yacob
  • 12Wilson
  • 13Myhill
  • 45Leko
  • 47Field


Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 33CechSubstituted forOspinaat 38'minutes
  • 24Bellerín
  • 20Mustafi
  • 6Koscielny
  • 18Monreal
  • 29Xhaka
  • 15Oxlade-Chamberlain
  • 14WalcottSubstituted forGiroudat 65'minutes
  • 8Ramsey
  • 7SánchezSubstituted forIwobiat 78'minutes
  • 23Welbeck


  • 4Mertesacker
  • 5Gabriel
  • 12Giroud
  • 13Ospina
  • 17Iwobi
  • 34Coquelin
  • 35Elneny
Neil Swarbrick

Match Stats

Home TeamWest BromAway TeamArsenal
Shots on Target

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, West Bromwich Albion 3, Arsenal 1.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, West Bromwich Albion 3, Arsenal 1.

  3. Post update

    Attempt missed. Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Danny Welbeck.

  4. Post update

    Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Jonny Evans.

  5. Substitution

    Substitution, West Bromwich Albion. Sam Field replaces Nacer Chadli.

  6. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

  7. Post update

    Foul by Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal).

  8. Post update

    Nyom (West Bromwich Albion) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  9. Post update

    Foul by Danny Welbeck (Arsenal).

  10. Post update

    Jake Livermore (West Bromwich Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  11. Post update

    Attempt missed. Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Shkodran Mustafi with a cross.

  12. Substitution

    Substitution, Arsenal. Alex Iwobi replaces Alexis Sánchez.

  13. Post update

    Corner, Arsenal. Conceded by Nacer Chadli.

  14. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Nacho Monreal (Arsenal) header from the left side of the six yard box is blocked. Assisted by Aaron Ramsey with a cross.

  15. Goal!

    Goal! West Bromwich Albion 3, Arsenal 1. Craig Dawson (West Bromwich Albion) header from very close range to the high centre of the goal. Assisted by James McClean with a cross following a corner.

  16. Post update

    Corner, West Bromwich Albion. Conceded by Shkodran Mustafi.

  17. Substitution

    Substitution, West Bromwich Albion. Claudio Yacob replaces Chris Brunt.

  18. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Granit Xhaka (Arsenal) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

  19. Post update

    Danny Welbeck (Arsenal) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  20. Post update

    Foul by Chris Brunt (West Bromwich Albion).


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