James McClean and West Brom's energy too much for Arsenal

After poor performances against Crystal Palace and Everton, West Brom moved forward from the 40-point mark with an outstanding display against Arsenal at The Hawthorns. Despite having only 23 percent possession, nobody could argue that Tony Pulis' team were much the better side, looking dangerous every time they counter-attacked and even more so from set pieces. West Brom were simply too powerful for an Arsenal side that didn't look up for the battle.


James McClean was outstanding on the wing for West Brom, matching his boundless energy and determination with direct, skillful running with the ball and dangerous delivery in the final third. After a lapse in concentration that gave Arsenal their equaliser, Nacer Chadli matched McClean for defensive effort while his quality in the final third presented several opportunities for his teammates. As a team, West Brom's defensive shape and organisation was fantastic, led by Jake Livermore and Darren Fletcher.


Salomon Rondon continues to struggle in the lone striker role, with his lack of confidence in front of goal seemingly having an effect on his all-around game. It might be worth taking the forward out of the firing line for a while after the international break, giving him the opportunity to run at defences in the second half rather than being the one responsible for tiring them out.

Manager rating out of 10

8 -- This was a much-improved display from Pulis tactically compared to the 2-0 loss against Crystal Palace in West Brom's previous home fixture. McClean's pace and energy on the wing meant the loss of Matt Phillips wasn't keenly felt, while using Chris Brunt in the middle of the park meant West Brom had someone with quality on the ball to exploit the gaps left by Arsenal's attacking style. The introduction of Hal Robson-Kanu was followed by a goal from the Welshman just a minute later, a sub that managers dream of making. Pulis should also be delighted that West Brom's proficiency at set pieces continued with two Craig Dawson goals from corners, exploiting the zonal marking style of Arsenal.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Ben Foster, 7 -- Beaten by a good Alexis Sanchez finish, he made a good save on Aaron Ramsey to keep the scores level in the first half. Dominated his penalty area in the second half when the ball was crossed into the box.

DF Craig Dawson, 8 -- Dealt well with Sanchez for the most part defensively and had a huge impact in the attacking sense with two towering headers from corners that helped West Brom to victory.

DF Gareth McAuley, 7 -- Neither Danny Welbeck nor Olivier Giroud could get any joy out of the Northern Irishman who was dominant physically. His threat at set pieces seemed to create more space for his teammates, including Dawson, to run into.

DF Jonny Evans, 8 -- Linked with Arsenal in the summer, Evans showed what they missed out with a composed, intelligent performance at the back. His positioning was fantastic, making several interceptions on the edge of the area before implementing attacks with his ability on the ball.

DF Allan Nyom, 7 -- Theo Walcott got very little joy out of the full-back, who made one good clearance under pressure from the winger in the first half. One powerful run and cross going forward early in the first half set the tone for West Brom's performance throughout the game.

MF Nacer Chadli, 7 -- Switched off defensively for Arsenal's equaliser but that was the one lapse he had going toward his own goal, while he provided quality in the final third both from open play and set pieces. Unlucky not to score in the second half.

MF Jake Livermore, 7 -- Started nervously but soon found his feet and showed the form that has earned him an England recall. Was full of energy, constantly won the ball back and provided some incisive passing going forward.

MF Darren Fletcher, 7 -- Showed an almost unbelievable amount of energy as he led West Brom's pressing. Constantly organising the defensive shape of his teammates and unlucky not to score when Petr Cech saved superbly from him in the first half.

MF Chris Brunt, 7 -- While his performance wasn't as energetic as his two teammates in the middle of the park, Brunt picked up several loose balls high around the pitch and showed all his quality in several passes that exploited the space left in behind by Arsenal.

MF James McClean, 8 -- The definition of all-action from first minute to last. Tracked Hector Bellerin throughout and caused the Spaniard some problems of his own going forward. Was still carrying the ball up the pitch at the end of the game and had a tremendous delivery for Dawson's second goal.

FW Salomon Rondon, 6 -- Missed two decent chances at what could have been crucial points in the game, which undid some of his good work in open play.


FW Hal Robson-Kanu, 7 -- Got more involved physically than Rondon, linked up well with Chadli and got West Brom's second goal just a minute after coming off the bench.

MF Claudio Yacob, 6 -- More defensive minded than Brunt, helped shore up West Brom as they repelled Arsenal's attempts to get back into the match.

MF Sam Field, NR -- Showed a maturity beyond his years in taking the ball to corner in the final few moments when he could have easily tried to run at goal.