Nasri Wins It For Arsenal

Arsenal 1-0 West Bromwich Albion

New signing Samir Nasri got Arsenal’s season off to a winning start, but their bright opening at the Emirates became more laboured as new boys West Brom got their measure and acquitted themselves creditably on their return to the top-flight.

First Half

Samir Nasri and Arsenal made the perfect start to the new season when the summer signing from Marseille scored after only four minutes to cap a typically flowing move by the Gunners. Brazilian midfielder Denilson produced a neat cut-back from the left which Nasri turned in crisply from six yards to announce his arrival on the Premier League stage.

At a packed Emirates Stadium bathed in sunshine, West Bromwich Albion - wearing yellow shirts with, unusually, no sponsor’s name on them, quickly realised they’d stepped up to a higher level as Arsenal dominated the opening 20 minutes with pace and passing and plenty of runners from midfield stretching the Baggies‘ defence.

Theo Walcott had a close-range header blocked by Paul Robinson as the England teenager and Nasri sparkled in their attacking roles. And skipper William Gallas got in on the act when he sent a powerful effort from 25 yards flashing narrowly past Scott Carson's right-hand post.

Then the lively Emmanuel Adebayor went on a powerful run into the West Brom box that was halted by Leon Barnett‘s strong tackle. With Albion struggling to get a foothold, Bacary Sagna had a long-range shot deflected wide by Abdoulaye Meite. The same two players were soon involved again, Sagna's cross from the right being put behind for an Arsenal corner by Meite, and Nicklas Bendtner getting up well to the flag-kick but directing it wide.

Albion at last threatened the Arsenal goal when Kim Do-heon's half-volley from the edge of the penalty area was turned round the post by Manuel Almunia, but manager Tony Mowbray was frustrated as the resulting corner was wasted.

The impressive Sagna produced a close-range header which Carson saved comfortably, before Emmanuel Eboue hit a swerving shot wide of the post from 30 yards. And at the other end, Johan Djourou did very well to win possession from Ishmael Miller in the area with a timely challenge. Then Miller was dispossessed again by a strong Sagna challenge.

After Adebayor created space on the edge of the area to get in a drive that was blocked to safety, the half ended with Arsenal having had plenty of possession but not managed to build on their early lead, giving Mowbray something to work on in his half-time team-talk.

Second Half

With both sides unchanged at the start of the second period, the Gunners began with a Nasri cross from the left being turned away from the West Brom area by Carl Hoefkens, and Adebayor hitting a shot wide of the post from close-range.

However, Albion nearly equalised on 50 minutes when Miller beat the offside trap and sent in a shot that Almunia beat out, with Djourou - whose lapse spoilt the offside trap - redeemed himself by clearing Paul Robinson‘s follow-up off the line for a corner. The let-off sparked heated exchanges between Almunia, Gallas and Djourou.

At the other end, Adebayor was put through by Nasri’s superb pass and sprinted onto the ball in the West Brom area, only to beat Carson but curl it just wide of the post. I was the sort of opportunity that Thierry Henry used to bury routinely. Barnett then did well to head the ball back to Carson under pressure from Adebayor.

The Gunners were again keeping possession comfortably, but lacking end-product, meaning their one-goal lead looked fragile, so there was relief when Miller put the ball into the back of the Arsenal net from 20 yards only for the referee to give Arsenal a free-kick.

Morrison did superbly to turn Gael Clichy's cut-back away from Bendtner, before Eboue sliced another effort wide of Carson's post from the edge of the area. Then the Gunners had a goal disallowed as a clearance hit Adebayor and rebounded into Walcott's path. His cross was turned in by Adeboyr but Walcott was offside.

Albion made their first change with Sherjill MacDonald replacing ineffective debutant Marek Cech, and Arsene Wenger responded by sending on Robin van Perise for Bendtner. Walcott then came off for Kolo Toure, and Roman Bednar replaced the hard-working Miller.

With Arsenal still toiling to work Carson in the Albion goal, Gallas sent a dire half-volley way over the bar, before Craig Beattie replaced Brunt. Adebayor then collected the ball on the left and crossed from the left for Van Persie, whose goal-bound header was well held by Carson - his first save of the second half. A couple of minutes later the Dutchman made space for a shot from outside the area but fired it well over. But he was much closer with a superb effort that curled just the wrong side of the post when Adebayor found him again in the area.

A bright build up by Arsenal ended with Nasri’s shot being blocked, and the game finished with Arsenal still searching for an elusive second, and Albion keeping them at bay with growing authority.

Arsenal: Almunia - Sagna, Djourou, Gallas, Clichy - Walcott (Toure), Eboue, Denilson, Nasri - Adebayor, Bendtner (Van Persie)

West Brom: Carson - Hoefkens, Barnett, Meite, Robinson - Brunt (Beattie), Morrison, Greening, Kim, Cech (MacDonald) - Miller (Bednar)

New signing Nasri scored the only goal to give Arsenal their opening game win.

4′ [1 - 0] S. Nasri

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Nasri Wins It For Arsenal Reviewed by admin Ucop on 5:30 PM Rating: 5

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