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Almunia horror show as Baggies down Arsenal

SoccerNews in English Premier League 25 Sep 2010

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Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia was guilty of two errors as West Brom shocked Arsene Wenger’s team in their Premier League clash at the Emirates Stadium.

Almunia had saved a first-half penalty from Chris Brunt but the visitors went ahead early in the second half when Peter Odemwingie tapped in his third goal of the season from close range.

Gonzalo Jara doubled the lead when Almunia allowed his shot into the near post, then former Arsenal winger Jerome Thomas added another to seal the points to leave the home crowd stunned.

Samir Nasri pulled two back but Wenger’s side could not take advantage of Chelsea dropping points at Manchester City earlier in the day.

Wenger was back on the touchline after serving a one-match ban for his conduct towards the fourth official when Sunderland scored an injury-time equaliser the previous weekend.

Roberto Di Matteo?s men had lost their previous two away games in the league this season – conceding seven goals without reply – but it was not quite so straightforward for Arsenal.

Goalkeeper Scott Carson was expected to have a busy afternoon and was watched by England coach Ray Clemence after returning to the national squad for the last round of European Championship qualifiers.

However, he did not have much to do in the early stages of the match.

Andrey Arshavin almost opened the scoring in the 14th minute when he got on the end of Emmanuel Eboue?s cross, but he struck the post twice in the same move. The first was due to the pressure of Brunt, then he stabbed the rebound into the upright too.

Nasri drove wide and would also have been sent through if referee Michael Oliver did not call play back to book Jonas Olsson for a trip on Eboue.

The visitors remained a threat on the counter attack and managed to frustrate Arsenal. They almost snatched the lead when Nicky Shorey fed Odemwingie on the right.

Odemwingie cut inside and forced Almunia to palm the ball around his near post. The West Brom striker then earned the penalty eight minutes before the break, racing onto Brunt?s pass and getting flattened by Almunia.

Brunt took the spot-kick but his weak effort was easily saved by Almunia, who barely had to dive to his right to stop the left-footed shot.

But West Brom were ahead five minutes after the break when Thomas tricked his way into the penalty area, around Bacary Sagna before crossing through Sebastien Squillaci?s legs for Odemwingie to tap in.

Jara then raced onto Brunt?s backheel two minutes later for the second, although his near-post shot was parried into the net by Almunia, offering another example of why Wenger was keen to sign Mark Schwarzer from Fulham before the transfer window closed.

Thomas finished after Almunia needlessly raced out to close down Brunt, who crossed for his team-mate. Nasri jinked into the area for his first goal, then crisply finished a second – but it was too late to earn a point.

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