Controversial late penalty denies Arsenal win at The Hawthorns
Arsenal were denied a win by a controversial late penalty in their Premier League match with West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns this afternoon.
The teams drew 1-1. A result that denied Arsene Wenger a win in his record-breaking 811th Premier League match in charge of Arsenal.
The late Baggies goal also denied Petr Cech reaching a record 200th Premier League clean sheet.
Arsenal move up to 5th position in the Premier League, at least temporarily, with 38 points from 21 matches.
The point moves the Baggies up to 19th position in the Premier League table.
With the match heading towards injury time referee Mike Dean pointed to the spot when Kieran Gibbs played the ball onto the hand of Calum Chambers.
It was a controversial decision to award a spot-kick.
Jay Rodriguez stepped up to score to cancel out Alexis Sanchez’s deflected shot from a free-kick that had put Arsenal ahead in the 83rd minute.
This is what Arsene Wenger had to say when speaking to BBC Match Of The Day.
Was the penalty a huge decision?: “Yes. I think many years ago Mike Dean and myself fought hard for referees to become professional and they do a good job but don’t work enough.
“But we have a very difficult schedule and I believe we fought hard to win the game but didn’t because of a bad decision.
“He (Dean) didn’t see it. There was a player in front of him.
“That’s why I questioned his decision, he didn’t see it.
“I felt we have a very tight schedule to prepare for this game. The Premier League has to look at the schedule. You have to look to see if you have the same amount of recovery days as the opposition. Come back to me when that happens.”
It was the first time West Brom had ever played Arsenal on New Year’s Eve.
It’s a match that won’t live long in the memory, but it did finally come to life in the final seven minutes.
Arsene Wenger taking charge of a record 810th Premier League match made one change to the team that started against Crystal Palace on Thursday.
Alex Iwobi replaced Mesut Ozil, who had a slight knee injury.
Alan Pardew made one change from the West Brom side that started in the 0-0 draw against Everton. Salomon Rondon made way for Hal Robson-Kanu.
After being undone in the corresponding match last season by set-pieces this time Arsenal forced a couple of early corners, but the delivery from Alexis Sanchez and Iwobi was woeful.
At the other end Matt Philips crossed from the right flank to the back post, but Jay Rodriguez’s header was saved by Petr Cech.
Moments later Cech mishandled a high ball into the penalty area but the danger was cleared.
Alexandre Lacazette’s then went close on 8 minutes to giving the Gunners the lead, but his shot was deflected just wide.
A minute later West Brom showed how dangerous they can be from set-pieces.
Crag Dawson – who scored twice against Arsenal last season – out-jumped the Gunners defenders but the ball was cleared away.
Sanchez then set up Iwobi who curled his shot just over the crossbar.
Phillips continued to be a threat. He forced a corner, but Cech palmed Chris Brunt’s cross away.
Midway through the first half Shkodran Mustafi fouled Robson-Kanu just outside the corner of the penalty area. box. Brunt sent the free-kick over the crossbar.
On the half-hour Iwobi forced Ben Foster to push a curling effort past the post.
Sead Kolasinac was replaced by Ainsley Maitland-Niles with 8 minutes of the half remaining after his knee was injured in a challenge by Gareth Barry.
Phillips tested out Maitland-Niles and went past him, but no one from the home side was able to get on the end of the cross.
Arsenal enjoyed 67% possession in the first half, but lacked fluency and a cutting edge in front of goal.
The second half started as the first half ended in scrappy fashion.
On the hour mark Jack Wilshere and Iwobi combined to set up Lacazette but his shot was blocked by the leg of Foster and the ball went behind for a corner.
Two minutes later Lacazette went close gain after being set up by Sanchez, but his shot went just wide of the post.
Moments later Sanchez cut in from the left but his shot only found the side netting.
Per Mertesacker replaced Laurent Koscielny with 18 minutes remaining, and two minutes later Danny Welbeck replaced Iwobi.
With seven minutes left Sanchez was fouled on the edge of the penalty area by Dawson. The Chilean got up to score with a low shot that deflected into the net off the leg of substitute James McClean.
But Arsenal were to be denied all three points.
Former Gunner Keiran Gibbs played the ball on to Callum Chambers’s arm and referee Mike Dean pointed to the penalty spot.
It was a harsh decision to award the penalty.
It was West Brom’s first penalty since September 2016 and Rodriguez made no mistake from the spot.
There was still time for Sanchez to drag a shot wide as Arsenal tried to regain the lead in injury time.
Next up for Arsenal is a Premier League clash with Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday night.
Arsenal: Cech, Bellerin, Koscielny (Mertesacker), Mustafi, Chambers, Kolasinac (Maitland-Niles), Xhaka, Wilshere, Iwobi (Welbeck), Sanchez, Lacazette