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Tomas Rosicky's double earned 10-man Arsenal their sixth win in the past seven Barclays Premier League games and increased the pressure on Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur in the battle for a Champions League spot.
Rosicky broke the deadlock at The Hawthorns with his first league goal of the campaign and then added a second early in the second period. West Brom midfielder James Morrison reduced the arrears from the penalty spot after Per Mertesacker was red carded for bringing down Shane Long but Arsenal held on to claim the three points.
Victory enabled Arsene Wenger's side to climb above Chelsea into fourth spot and they are a point behind Spurs with their two main rivals both in action tomorrow.
Rosicky's overall contribution was impressive but there were also key performances from Santi Cazorla and captain Mikel Arteta. Albion only came to life after the introduction of substitute striker Romelu Lukaku and Mertesacker's red card but they are comfortably placed in mid-table.
Arsenal needed a goal-line clearance from Rosicky to prevent Albion taking the lead after 12 minutes. Chris Brunt's corner picked out Claudio Yacob's run to the near post and his glancing header beat Lukasz Fabianski, only for Rosicky to head away.
The away side struggled at the back and Long created an opening from himself after cutting inside but failed to hit the target. After 20 minutes Arsenal broke the deadlock through Rosicky's first Barclays Premier League goal of the campaign. Arteta's long pass was seized upon by Gervinho, who turned past Gareth McAuley before crossing for Rosicky, who headed home at close range.
West Brom tried to come back and Fabianski went down at the foot of a post to smother a Chris Brunt free-kick. But Arsenal were dominating the game and Gervinho extended Foster with a low shot on the turn.
Aaron Ramsey became the first player to be yellow carded for a challenge on the recalled Jerome Thomas and then Rosicky was booked for a late tackle on James Morrison. Ramsey could have doubled Arsenal's lead two minutes before half-time but he poked the ball wide of the far post after good play by Giroud and Cazorla.
The second half continued in the same vein and Foster blocked a shot from the overlapping Bacary Sagna after being teed up by Gervinho. After 51 minutes Rosicky doubled Arsenal's lead with his second goal of the game.
Ramsey's pass was volleyed by Rosicky with plenty of power and Foster was unable to hold the shot. Rosicky was the first to react to the rebound and made no mistake from eight yards out.
West Brom manager Steve Clarke responded by bringing on strikers Lukaku and Markus Rosenberg in place of Graham Dorrans and Jerome Thomas respectively. Koscielny was booked for bringing down Long but Lukaku's weak free-kick was straight at Fabianski.
There was a rare moment of danger for Arsenal when Fabianski blocked Brunt's near-post effort. Albion were given a lifeline after 71 minutes when last defender Mertesacker was sent off for bringing down Long in the box and the resulting spot-kick was converted by Morrison.
Wenger took off Gervinho and brought on Thomas Vermaelen to replace Mertesacker. Albion came close to levelling when McAuley headed just wide from a Brunt corner. Lukaku curled a shot just wide and Long fired over the bar but Arsenal held on.
West Brom head coach Steve Clarke: "We played well today. They scored in the first half with one of the very few chances they created. We had good control in the first half but didn't really create enough.
"We were disappointed to lose the second goal at the start of the second half. It was crucial for us to get back in it and we gave away another soft goal, a bad goal to lose. At 2-0 it is difficult to chase the game. We made a couple of changes. Then the penalty and the red card does change the game and gives us the chance to get something from the game."
"Every game we have played against the top sides this year we have started with one up front. My call was to start with Shane Long. I thought his particular style could cause the two centre-backs a problem and, by and large, it worked out that way.
"When Romelu comes on and Markus [Rosenberg] came in, we were chasing the game and we had momentum. They both made a good impact.
"The response was good today. The performance today deserved to get something from the game. I don't think you can say we took it easy or didn't display a determination to get something from the game."
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: "It was a fabulous win and it needed a special performance. The last 20 minutes was obviously very nervy because we had 10 men.
“It was a difficult game against a good West Brom side who were really up for it. They did fight until the last second and we have shown two aspects of our game today. One that was very in control and with technical quality, and one that is less known - fighting spirit, a resolute attitude and battling qualities that reflect well the spirit we have in our side. I’m very pleased because it was three big points for us today.
"They had a lot of strong bodies who were very determined to score. But we kept our nerve and we were committed. We have good spirit, the team is growing and we have a resolute attitude. And, of course, the run we are on makes the team stronger."
|20 Apr 2013||v Newcastle (H)|
|27 Apr 2013||v Southampton (A)|
|04 May 2013||v Wigan (H)|
|07 May 2013||v Man City (A)|
|12 May 2013||v Norwich (A)|
|19 May 2013||v Man Utd (H)|