Belfast Telegraph

Lacazette hits double as Wenger hails Gunners' control

Arsenal 2 West Brom 0

By Declan Warrington

Alexandre Lacazette's first double in English football continued Arsenal's excellent home form as they beat West Brom 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium. On an evening when Alexis Sanchez, widely expected to leave at the season's end when his contract expires, made his first league start since his attempt to join rivals Manchester City, the striker continued to justify his club-record transfer fee.

Spoiling the occasion of Gareth Barry's record 633rd Premier League appearance, his two goals also ensured a continuation of Arsenal's 100 per cent record at the Emirates so far this season and wider run of eight consecutive home league wins.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger said: "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."

The visitors' Jay Rodriguez was unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty when brought down by Shkodran Mustafi's cumbersome challenge but, after returning to his feet, he forced Petr Cech into a fine save.

Wenger said: "Would it 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."

On Lacazette, Wenger added: "He gets stronger in every game. Good first touch and movement. He is young and just arrived in England. The physical demands are very high."

Mohamed Elneny, starting his first Premier League fixture since the season's opening day in perhaps a demonstration of Arsene Wenger's wariness of West Brom's physical threat, briefly took responsibility for Arsenal's creativity. His ball wide was volleyed by Hector Bellerin towards Aaron Ramsey who, despite space at the near post, could only head high and wide.

The midfielder was then brought down by Jonny Evans, among Wenger's summer transfer targets, also on the edge of the area, to win the 20th-minute free-kick that produced their opening goal. On this occasion Ben Foster tipped Sanchez's curling effort away but, with the goalkeeper on the floor, Lacazette was the quickest to respond and instinctively headed low into the near open goal.

West Brom, largely outclassed by their composed hosts, were unfortunate not to level in the 38th minute, again through Rodriguez. After Grzegorz Krychowiak broke down the left and hooked a cross towards the forward, Rodriguez succeeded in heading past Cech but could only watch as the recovering Nacho Monreal cleared off the goal-line and out for a corner.

The £52million Lacazette had another dangerous, goal-bound shot blocked early in the second half before, in the 67th minute, the opportunity presented itself to him to seal all three points.

Allan Nyom clumsily brought down Ramsey inside the area and, with Sanchez still on the pitch, Lacazette stepped up to finish into the bottom-right corner beyond the diving Foster.

On his own spot-kick claim, West Brom ace Rodriguez said: "I felt contact. I went down and expected the foul to be given but it wasn't so I got back up. I wasn't injured or hurt.

"For me it was a penalty, sometimes you get them sometimes you don't.

"I wouldn't be rolling around trying to get free-kicks. It is one of them things but it is just difficult because if you do get that goal, 1-0 up it changes the game.

"If I have the chance to score and see it I am not going to stay down and shy away from it. You always have a conversation with the ref, we just talked. It was just one of those things."

Arsenal: Cech; Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Elneny, Xhaka, Bellerin, Ramsey (Maitland-Niles 90), Sanchez (Ozil 83), Kolasinac; Lacazette (Giroud 83). Unused subs: Ospina, Mertesacker, Wilshere, Walcott.

West Brom: Foster; Dawson, Hegazi, Evans; Nyom (Phillips 74), Livermore (Morrison 63), Krychowiak, Barry, Gibbs; Robson-Kanu (Rondon 64), Rodriguez. Unused subs: Myhill, Yacob, Brunt, McClean.

Man of the match: Alexandre Lacazette

Match rating: 7/10

Attendance: 59,134

Referee: Bobby Madley (Yorkshire)

Belfast Telegraph

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