ALEXANDRE LACAZETTE’S minor landmark – and referee Bobby Madley – spoiled Gareth Barry’s record-breaking night.
Two-goal Lacazette became the first Arsenal player to score in his first three league matches at home since Brian Marwood on the occasion of Barry’s 633rd Premier League appearance.
But the Frenchman’s strike came only after Madley had denied West Brom a stonewall penalty and he rubbed it in by giving the Gunners a harsh-looking spot-kick which the home No 9 converted to kill game midway through the second half.
Baggies boss Tony Pulis had lost on all nine of his previous visits to the Emirates as a manager and must have feared his luck was out inside eight minutes.
Madley incomprehensibly failed to award the visitors a penalty when Jay Rodriguez ran on to a pass from Barry and was brought down by Shkodran Mustafi.
Rodriguez got up to hit a shot which cannoned off the post and Jake Livermore went wide with the rebound, but that should not have mattered – it was the latest howler in a poor season so far for match officials.
Pulis went ballistic several more times as every decision seemed to go against his team, but Albion only had themselves to blame for Lacazette’s first goal.
Jonny Evans mistimed a challenge on Mohame Elneny on the edge of the box, a combination of Ben Foster and the crossbar kept out Alexis Sanchez’s free kick but the Frenchman reacted quickest to force the ball home.
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Sanchez, making his 100th Premier League start for the Gunners, pulled the strings for a while but then West Brom came back into the game and only a spectacular Nacho Monreal clearance stopped Rodriguez equalising.
The hard-working former Southampton striker did everything but score, unable to make a decisive connection on two further occasions before the break.
Only a crucial block by former Gunner Kieran Gibbs prevented Lacazette scoring again early in the second period.
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But Madley soon gave him the chance to wrap up the game. Allan Nyom seemed to have won a shoulder to shoulder duel with Ramsey, but Madley pointed to the spot and Lacazette just beat Foster as he dived low to his left.
The Frenchman could have had a hat-trick but fired off target after Sanchez’s brilliant crossfield ball.
It will be little consolation to Pulis and West Brom that Madley also mystifyingly failed to show Craig Dawson a second yellow card for going through Sanchez yet again in the dying minutes.
FACTS, STATS, GOALS & LOLS
- Gareth Barry broke the Premier League’s all-time appearance record when he led out on the Baggies for his 633rd game in the English top-flight
- And he was not the only member of the West Brom party to reach a milestone. Tony Pulis was taking charge of his 100th game in charge of the club.
Arsenal’s Alexandre Lacazette scores two goals against West Brom
- Arsenal went into the clash in confident mood – they had scored in all 23 Premier League matches against West Brom. It took them just 20 minutes to continue that.
- Alexandre Lacazette was brimming with confidence too. He had scored in his first two home league matches for the club.
- And he became the first man since Brian Marwood in 1988 to hit the net in his first three home games on the spin with his header.
- The Emirates is turning into a miserable hunting ground for the Baggies. They have now lost their last seven visits to North London.
NFL team New Orleans Saints visit The Emirates to watch Arsenal beat West Brom
- Kieran Gibbs returned to Arsenal for the first time since his summer move to the Midlands. But the closest he came to grabbing his first goal at the Emirates since November 2015 was dragging a shot wide in the first half.
- In addition to Pulis’ century, when Lacazette won a spot-kick in the second half it was Arsenal’s 100th penalty in the Premier League.
- NFL players were in attendance as members of the New Orleans Saints enjoyed a trip to the Emirates. The Saints play the Miami Dolphins at Wembley on Sunday.
WHAT THEY SAID
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, speaking to BBC Sport: “They pushed us very hard, especially in the first half. They disturbed our build up and played a very dangerous and direct game. In the second half I felt we controlled the game and did not give anything away.
“Would [the West Brom penalty] have been given I would not have said it is a scandal. Looking at the decision again he made the right decision [to play advantage]. It is a difficult decision because if he doesn’t give the advantage and he misses the penalty…
“You are never too honest. I believe he saw an opportunity he could score.”
West Brom boss Tony Pulis on refereeing decisions: “It is part of the game and things didn’t go for us today.
“The great thing [with the challenge on Rodriguez] is that everybody has seen it so I don’t have to comment on it.”
Was Rodriguez too honest? “No, we tell our players not to roll about, he still wanted to score but once he has missed the referee should pull it back, it could be a penalty and they could have a player sent off so we not only score but are against a team down to 10 players.
“But we have got to start taking chances, we have given Arsenal a good game but we had to chase it in the second half and that suited Arsenal.”
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