Belfast Telegraph

Gunners stumble at Hawthorns

Arsenal's title challenge suffered a blow as their late rally was only enough to secure a 2-2 draw at West Brom.

Albion were 2-0 up just before the hour mark when Peter Odemwingie capitalised on a mix-up between Manuel Almunia and Sebastien Squillaci to add to Steven Reid's early header.

The Gunners staged a comeback with goals in the 70th minute from Andrey Arshavin and 78th from Robin van Persie, but they could not find a winner and are now five points behind Barclays Premier League leaders Manchester United.

Arsene Wenger's team made the worst possible start as West Brom took the lead after only three minutes. Albion skipper Chris Brunt swung in a corner and Reid crashed a header beyond Almunia.

The visitors should have equalised when Van Persie's header came back off the bar. The ball dropped to Aaron Ramsey right in front of goal, but the midfielder could only strike at Scott Carson.

Arsenal's Marouane Chamakh sent a header goalwards early in the second period but it did not trouble Carson.

Wenger then bolstered his forward line with Nicklas Bendtner coming on for Ramsey, but just seconds later West Brom scored again - thanks in no small part to Almunia.

The goalkeeper came charging out of his box when Youssouf Mulumbu launched a long ball forward but misjudged it before getting in a tangle with Squillaci, and Odemwingie gleefully slotted home.

The Gunners seemed to be fading, but a slick move saw them pull a goal back through Arshavin, who played a one-two with Chamakh before turning and rifling home.

Arsenal began pouring forward and eight minutes later they found a leveller, with the Russian again the catalyst. His cross hit the post and Van Persie reacted fastest to the rebound to bundle the ball over the line.


From Belfast Telegraph