The Hawthorns, Premier League – West Bromwich Albion 1 (Rodriguez 89) Arsenal 1 (McClean 83)
Arsenal were denied a win at West Brom when a controversial penalty allowed Jay Rodriguez to equalise on 89 minutes and secure a 1-1 draw.
Manchester City-target Alexis Sanchez broke the deadlock when his free-kick deflected off James McClean and into the back of the net on 83 minutes, but Arsenal’s joy turned to frustration shortly after when Calum Chambers accidentally handled in the box and Mike Dean awarded the hosts a penalty, which Rodriguez converted. It was dubious decision as the Arsenal defender had his arm in a natural position as he blocked Kieran Gibbs’ corner, and it proved costly for Arsene Wenger’s side.
The game had been relatively uneventful until Sanchez’s goal as Arsenal controlled possession but failed to create many clear cut openings. Alex Iwobi, who replaced the injured Mesut Ozil, went closest for the Gunners in the first half but he scooped his effort over the bar from a decent position.
Arsene Wenger made history by taking charge of his 811th Premier League game, breaking Sir Alex Ferguson’s record, but his side played with little urgency and lacked creativity on the Frenchman’s landmark day.
West Brom extended their winless streak to 19 games, but Alan Pardew will be delighted with his side’s performance. The Baggies move up to 19th, three points from safety, while Arsenal jump to fifth, three points behind fourth-placed Liverpool.
Arsenal pay the penalty: Calum Chambers had his eyes closed and his arm in a natural position when Kieran Gibbs’ cross struck his arm. The West Brom full-back didn’t even appeal for a penalty, but Mike Dean thought differently. The decision has cost Arsenal two points, which could prove costly in their bid for a top-four place. 2017 has been a year to forget for Arsenal, as their Champions League qualification streak came to an end. They end the year outside the top four, three points behind Liverpool who are on a great run of form. Worrying times.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal): Sanchez was the only player in Arsenal colours who looked like he could make something happen. After an underwhelming couple of months, the Chilean international has suddenly sprung to life in the last couple of games – just as the January transfer window is ready to open.