Premier League - West Brom win after Almunia horror show
Sat, 25 Sep 16:50:00 2010
The beleaguered goalkeeper conceded a first-half penalty with a reckless challenge and, although he saved Chris Brunt's effort, Peter Odemwingie later opened the scoring with a neat finish in the 50th minute.
Just two minutes later, the visitors doubled their lead as Almunia inexplicably failed to save a tame effort from defender Gonzalo Jara at his near post, and the Emirates was left utterly shell shocked.
Former Gunner Jerome Thomas made it three in the 73rd minute with a composed finish after Almunia was caught in no man's land, and Samir Nasri's late brace could not rescue the hosts from a galling defeat. It was the Baggies first win at Arsenal for 27 years.
The hosts began the match without an Englishman in their line-up for the first time in seven months in the league – since their 1-0 home victory against Liverpool on February 10, as Jack Wilshere was confined to the bench.
Alex Song returned to the Arsenal side after he was suspended for the midweek Carling Cup win at Spurs, while Emmanuel Eboue was handed a midfield berth with Marouane Chamakh employed in a lone striking role.
Scott Carson watched on helplessly as his near post was struck twice in a matter of seconds: Emmanuel Eboue whipped over a devilish delivery from the right, before first Brunt in his own penalty area, then Andrei Arshavin hit the woodwork.
But it was the Baggies who squandered the best chance to take the lead: Odemwingie was played in by Brunt, and the forward was inexplicably hauled down from a dismal piece of rash goalkeeping by Almunia. The referee immediately pointed to the spot, but the Arsenal number one made amends for his reckless misjudgement with a save as Brunt side-footed a tame effort to his right in the 37th minute.
The home fans were already becoming restless as the first period developed, and Sagna almost grabbed a goal on the stroke of half-time with a powerful header from Arshavin's corner, only to direct it wide of the near post.
It was West Brom who broke the deadlock five minutes into the second half, as Odemwingie pounced to open the scoring from close range after fine work from the excellent Thomas down the left.
Two minutes later, the hosts were two down: Brunt played a delightful backheel into the path of Jara, who somehow beat Almunia at his near post to infuriate the home fans and his team-mates in equal measure.
Almunia was again outfoxed in the 73rd minute as Arsenal's dismal afternoon took yet another turn for the worse: Brunt drew the keeper well out of his goal before squaring the ball to Thomas who compounded the hosts' misery with a neat finish.
Nasri grabbed a goal back for the hosts two minutes later with a well-taken finish, and the Baggies' obdurate defence looked to have caved in as the Frenchman added a second in stoppage time.
But the visitors held on in a dramatic finale as substitute Rosicky fired over the crossbar from close range, and boos rang out around the Emirates to greet the full-time whistle.
It was a dreadful afternoon for Wenger's side, who missed the opportunity to close the gap on leaders Chelsea, while West Brom moved up into fifth after a day to remember.Dan Quarrell / Eurosport