West Bromwich Albion 0 - Arsenal 4

Date: Saturday 2nd January 2021 Live on BT SportBehind Closed Doors
Competition: Premier League
Johnstone 5.9, Furlong 2.4, Ajayi 3.6, Ivanovic 1.9 (Bartley, 66 3.8), O'Shea 3.7, Phillips 2.6 (Harper, 81 3.6), Sawyers 2.6, Gallagher 4.6, Diangana 2.3 (Austin, 45 2.6), Pereira 3.6, Robinson 5.3
Unused subs: Button, Gibbs, Grosicki, Krovinovic, Peltier
Manager: Sam Allardyce 2.7
Referee: Martin Atkinson (West Yorkshire) 6.6
Attendance: 0
Submit your ratings for this game by clicking here: Ratings submitted so far: 14

Brendan Clegg:

Well was anyone surprised? I couldn’t be as angry about this one as I was against Leeds given the gulf in resources and cost of the 2 squads.

The outsider might’ve thought the conditions made it perfect for us but that would be to assume we’ve a team of bruisers who would bully Arsenal but anyone who knows our squad would have known we haven’t got a bully in the whole squad.

As it goes I thought the starting 11 was probably as good as it could have been with Gibbs and Bartley probably still injured and Grant missing.

We were slightly brighter in the opening exchanges with Periera and Robinson getting on the ball but it didn’t take long for Arsenal to create chances. The defending for the goals against in the first half individually and collectively was really poor, and we couldn’t cope with Arsenal’s pace.

That it stayed at 2 was a blessing and we were all over the shop after the 2nd for the rest of the half. I’ve no idea what the formation was in the end but it was hit and hope.

Honestly I’d have given Diaby a run over Austin 2nd half but it was Austin who came on, ultimately making us even slower and less fit.

We had a goal disallowed following the only bit of pressure we managed to press on the Arsenal back 4, but we contrived to concede a couple more terrible goals and it looked like there would be more until Bartley relieved Ivanovic of his continued humiliation and was at least capable of running and jumping to defend.

The whistle couldn’t come quick enough. The players again took a load of stick from what I read online but it does seem a bit harsh. It is simply too much to ask a team of championship level tippy tappy players to surrender possession, defend their 18 yard line and play for counters and set plays. The resources and style are incompatible; Allardyce should be signing 3-4 players now to play his way, not waiting for Blackpool.

Unquestionably we’ve gone backwards in 4 games - this was always going to be the case once we went with Allardyce until he can get his own players in, but if he can’t or isn’t backed then this will have been even an bigger error than the Pardew appointment. Let’s see.

  • SJ - 6 No chance for the goals. A couple of standard stops.
  • Furlong - 3 The gulf in class was too big for him, embarrassed for the first but where was the covering CB/CM?
  • Ajayi - 3 His worst showing so far. Was it worry about covering Ivanovic? Didn’t handle the elements.
  • Ivanovic - 2 It’s over. Worse than Lugano. The legs don’t move quick enough. Still got it on the ball but his inclusion creates chaos in the back line.
  • O’Shea - 4 Roasted all night out of position but stuck at it.
  • Sawyers - 4 Will come in for stick again and isn’t good enough but never hid on the ball and tried to work it through them.
  • Pereira - 4 Made things happen but wanted too long and was devoid of options too frequently.
  • Phillips - 3 Nowhere near fit enough to play an inside roll at this level and is never a captain. Hid tough often.
  • Gallagher - 4 It’s a waste effectively making him a handicapped 2nd ball competitor for 90 mins, won’t be surprised if he gets recalled.
  • Diagana - 3 Ruining him playing so deep and hoofing it when he does get up the pitch. Practically played left back. Pointless.
  • Robinson - 6 Made things happen. Moved, chased, got crosses in. At least occupied the ball and rarely gave it away.
  • Austin - 2 Did he do anything at all apart from nearly concede a penalty? Can’t score in the under 23s, couldn’t do it last year, slow, unfit, easy to play against, hides waiting for the easiest option. Never again hopefully.
  • Bartley - 5 Always has pride and fight even if he’s not good enough.
  • Harper - 4 Looked shagged after 5 mins but at least got a shot off.

One foot in the Championship...

Didcot Baggie:

Great review from Brendan as always. 4-0 was no surprise, and I suspect punters up and down the land collected on betting on that score line. I'm trying to picture the dressing room post-game. What do you say to a bunch of players who are out of their depth for a variety of reasons? Berating then won't help. Anyone who has played sport at any level will know the agony of being in a team that gets tonked every week. No amount of motivation or training is going to turn the players into something they are not.

The only option is a complete player turnover this month and that's not going to happen. Maybe Big Sam can whistle up a time vortex and we can return to the days of Evans, GMac and Yacob when we were hard to score against, with Jimmy Morrison running his socks off in midfield. Enough dreaming. Let's hope we don't embarrass ourselves against Blackpool and strengthen the team before Wolves.