Arteta double gives Arsenal 2-0 win over West Brom

Mikel Arteta halted Arsenal’s three-game winless run in the

Premier League on Saturday by scoring two penalties in a 2-0

victory over West Bromwich.

Arteta’s first goal in the 26th minute came after Santi Cazorla

went down lightly under Steven Reid’s challenge, enraging West Brom

manager Steve Clarke who said there was ”zero contact.”

”I’m not sure what the referee saw, but it was a bad decision

for us,” he said. ”It changed the shape of the afternoon. It

could have been a nervous afternoon for Arsenal, at 0-0 they hadn’t

created too much.”

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger defended Cazorla against

allegations of diving.

”I’m sorry if it wasn’t a penalty, but I have spoken to Santi

and he said he had been touched and lost his balance,” Wenger

said. ”I don’t want to see that (diving), but he told me he had

been touched.”

But there was no disputing Arsenal’s second penalty when Alex

Oxlade-Chamberlain was brought down by Chris Brunt in the 64th.

After rising to third place following four straight wins, West

Brom has now lost three in a row to drop to fifth.

A second victory in seven matches for the Gunners lifted them

provisionally up four places to sixth, two points behind West Brom.

Seventh-place Everton hosts Tottenham on Sunday.

An alarming decline has engulfed Emirates Stadium in negativity

in recent months – a position acknowledged by captain Thomas

Vermaelen in the matchday program as he urged fans to ”stick

together.”

But after enduring their worst start to a league campaign since

Wenger arrived 16 years ago, the Gunners will take comfort from

beating a side above them.

”You could see we were ready for a fight and we knew absolutely

we had to win this game,” Wenger said. ”And we did it.”

Early in Saturday’s match, though, Arsenal’s finishing was

wayward: Gervinho sliced wide after hesitation at the back before

Cazorla struck wide and sent a first-time volley over after

Oxlade-Chamberlain darted down the right flank.

”The only negative of the day is that we didn’t convert our

chances very well,” Wenger said. ”But we created chances and we

didn’t in the last game (a 2-1 loss to Olympiakos). If we are a bit

more serene we will convert these chances better.”

West Brom’s first effort on goal ended with Brunt’s strike

swerving just around Wojciech Szczesny’s post.

Arsenal’s breakthrough came when Cazorla appeared to dive after

being clipped slightly on the shin by Reid, with a favorable

decision from referee Mike Jones leading to Arteta scoring from the

spot.

”I don’t want a witch-hunt on referees, in this country we have

fantastic referees and a fantastic group that work hard to make the

game the game it is,” Clarke said. ”We have to try to work as

hard as we can with the referees. In this game, unfortunately, it

was the poorest of a really good group. We have a number of good

referees – we have to find good more referees.”

Arsenal could have extended its lead when Gervinho worked his

way into the penalty area and then cut the ball back across the

face of goal only for Jack Wilshere to shoot wide, scant reward for

a strong performance from the midfielder who returned from a

long-term injury in October.

”He is getting closer to the player we know he is,” Wenger

said of Wilshere.

West Brom appealed fruitlessly for a penalty when Per

Mertesacker handled a high ball.

Arsenal, though, was on top, with the first half ending with

Gervinho’s low shot turned around the post by goalkeeper Boaz

Myhill.

The chances continued to fall to Arsenal after the break, with

Gervinho heading wide and then missing the ball as he attempted to

shoot from close range.

To find the net again, Arsenal needed another penalty, with

Arteta firing the ball down the middle of the net after

Oxlade-Chamberlain had tumbled in the area after being halted by

Brunt.

”I’ve got no complaints with the second penalty but there was a

foul in the build-up,” Clarke said.

West Brom didn’t give up though, with Markus Rosenberg’s low

effort blocked by Szczesny and Romelu Lukaku heading wide.