Alexis Sanchez double eases Arsenal to a comfortable win
Alexis Sanchez scored twice as Arsenal beat West Bromwich Albion 2-0 in their Premier League clash at the Emirates Stadium last night.
The Chilean has now scored or assisted nine goals in his past seven Premier League games.
It’s a welcome return to form for Sanchez. Whilst it has come too late for Arsenal in the title race, it is a boost in helping to secure a top 4 finish. The minimum target now in what has turned into a desperately disappointing season.
The disillusionment with how the Gunners season has disintegrated could be seen in the turnout for last night’s match.
There were thousands of empty seats all around the stadium. The crowd was announced as 59,568 – the capacity is 60,432 – but the actual crowd was closer to 40,000.
There was talk of a boycott, but apathy kept the majority away as it has for many home games this season.
When asked after the game about empty seats, Arsene Wenger said: “It’s Thursday night, it’s not easy.”
A diplomatic, if misguided, response as we know if Arsenal were still in the title race the stadium would have been full.
On the pitch the two goals from Sanchez, and the three points, eases the pressure slightly on Wenger ahead of the trip to the North East to take on Sunderland.
The Black Cats who are fighting to avoid relegation may prove to be more stubborn opponents than the Baggies.
Alexis Sanchez put Arsenal ahead after five minutes after a pass from Mesut Ozil. He turned Sandro before firing beyond Ben Foster low into the net.
The match then followed the pattern of the disappointing draw with Crystal Palace on Sunday, with Arsenal enjoying plenty of possession but lacking a cutting edge to put a listless West Brom to the sword.
Mesut Ozil came closest to doubling the lead, but had one shot blocked and another tame effort cleared off the line after it had squirmed under Foster.
Arsenal nearly paid the price when an unmarked Gareth McAuley hit the bar from a corner with Petr Cech beaten.
Alexis though settled the nerves of the sparse crowd with his second goal just before half-time, wrong-footing Foster with a free-kick from the edge of the penalty area.
The second half continued in the same vein with Arsenal at times opening up the West Brom defence at will, but lacking the composure and killer instinct to add to their lead.
The result moves Arsenal back into third position in the table. They are 10 points behind leaders Leicester City and five behind second placed Tottenham Hotspur. But for the remaining four matches will be looking for the results of the two Manchester clubs as the look to secure a top four finish.
Cech 6, Mertesacker (c) 6, Koscielny 6, Ozil 6 (Campbell), Giroud 5, Ramsey 6, Sanchez 8 (Walcott), Monreal 6, Bellerin 6, Elneny 7, Iwobi 7 (Coquelin),