Welbeck comes to Arsenal's rescue
WEST BROM 0
(Danny Welbeck 60)
It wasn't a five-star performance that suggested Premiership title potential.
But you won't find Arsene Wenger complaining after his Arsenal side clawed their way to a 1-0 away win over West Bromwich Albion yesterday.
On the back of two consecutive league defeats and sitting eighth in the table prior to this match, Arsenal were simply happy to grab three points whichever way they come.
On a day when they were required to grind out a win against the battling hosts, Danny Welbeck was the one who answered Wenger's call to help his team to only their fifth Premiership win in 13 matches.
Rising to meet Santi Cazorla's inviting cross, he thumped a header which West Brom goalkeeper Ben Foster could only touch into the net at the Hawthorns.
This result provided some evidence that they may be about to turn the corner after a wretched start to their campaign.
But the performance also showed that they are still quite some way off their best form.
It was why the mood on the Arsenal bench was one of relief rather than joy at the final whistle.
The U-turn in Arsenal's transfer policy was supposed to spark a return to the good old days.
When Mesut Oezil, then Alexis Sanchez, came through the Emirates Stadium doors, they were believed to be just what the doctor prescribed.
No longer hampered by a stubborn refusal to buy big-name players, they were expected to at least coast to a top-four finish this season.
Instead, the Gunners entered yesterday's match with a haul of 17 points from 12 games - their worst start since the 1982/83 campaign.
Their lack of confidence showed, especially in the closing stages of the match.
West Brom were gutsy and determined, but not much more.
Even so, as the Midlands side pushed for the equaliser, Arsenal's poise took a hit.
Saido Berahino's 81st-minute header looked almost a clone of Welbeck's goal, but for the fact that it rocked the crossbar instead.
Right on the stroke of full-time, Craig Gardner sent a curler flying just centimetres wide of the upright.
But Arsenal survived. Barely.
The scoreboard read 1-0 in the end, a familiar sight for the older Arsenal fans.
The popular terrace chant "one-nil to the Arsenal" is a reminder of the days when former manager George Graham attempted to bore everyone to death.
Wenger, a champion of beautiful football, is clearly no advocate of such sedate stuff.
But, at the moment, even he may be tempted to choose results over performances.
The aesthetics can come later.