- Albion beat Arsenal 2-1 at the Emirates
- Adam Webster and Neal Maupay on target
- Alexandre Lacazette scored for Arsenal
- Win is Albion's first to come away to the Gunners
The Seagulls were the much better side in the first half and Adam Webster’s second goal of the season was no more than they deserved.
Arsenal equalised early in the second half through Alexandre Lacazette’s header, and for a while the home side were on top. But Albion regrouped and scored a superbly-worked winner through Neal Maupay with ten minutes to go.
It was Albion’s first win in nine attempts on Arsenal territory and thoroughly deserved. They could have been more than a goal to the good after dominating before the break, and when Arsenal threatened in the second half they showed a real defensive resilience.
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Graham Potter then produced a masterstroke, sending on Leandro Trossard who helped create the winner. It is the fourth time this season the Belgian has come off the bench to either score or make a goal. For the head coach, it was another memorable night at the Emirates, having guided his Ostersunds side to victory here in the Europa League when he was in charge of the Swedish club.
Potter had made two changes to the side beaten by leaders Liverpool, with Maupay and Steven Alzate recalled at the expense of Yves Bissouma and Martin Montoya.
Albion had to defend a couple of Mesut Ozil corners in the first ten minutes but thereafter they dominated the first half.
Aaron Connolly brought the first save out of Bernd Leno in the 18th minute, when the Irish striker was played in by Dan Burn and forced Leno to smother his shot.
As the Seagulls grew in confidence, the lively Connolly was felled on the edge of the box by Hector Bellerin, who was booked. Gross fired the free kick into the defensive wall, but Leno was in action again in the 24th minute, when Webster met Gross’s corner and his header forced a decent save from Arsenal’s German keeper.
Maupay went even closer two minutes later. Aaron Mooy’s cross found him at the edge of the six-yard box, and he fizzed a low shot across the face of goal, which Connolly so nearly touched in at the far post.
At that stage Albion had enjoyed 59% of possession and although Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s cross-shot from the right wasn’t far away, it was a rare moment of alarm for Albion.
Leno was called into action again in the 33rd minute to save Maupay’s drive at full stretch, before he got down to smother Davy Propper’s long-range effort.
But the pressure was relentless and Albion got their rewards in the 36th minute. Gross’s corner was headed down by Burn, and although Connolly failed to get a strike away, the ball dropped to Webster who fired it powerfully past Leno.
Arsenal responded and Aubameyang’s cross found Joe Willock, but his header was instinctively saved by Maty Ryan, the only time in the first half Albion’s keeper had been seriously tested.
Not surprisingly the hosts responded strongly at the start of the second half and equalised in the 50th minute. Ozil’s corner was headed on by Lacazette, and the ball went in off the far post with Sead Kolasinac claiming the final touch. VAR checked for a possible offside against Kolasinac and for a foul on Ryan, but the goal stood and it was 1-1.
Webster then took the ball off Lacazette’s head when he seemed certain to meet Bellerin’s cross in front of goal, and it took a while for Albion to work their way back into the game, but they nearly scored again on the hour.
Alzate stood up a lovely cross from the right and Mooy met it with a downward header which Maupay latched onto. Leno stood tall, however, and deflect his volley wide for a corner, which Dunk headed narrowly over.
Albion had a scare when David Luiz met Ozil’s free kick with a low finish into the corner, but he was one of four home players offside and VAR ruled out the goal. Alzate then got across superbly to cover when Aubameyang threatened, before Lacazette volleyed wide.
With 16 minutes left Martin Montoya, replaced Connolly then Trossard came on for Gross and moments later, the substitute was involved as Albion regained the lead. Trossard’s first touch found Mooy on the left, and his cross was met by Maupay, who got ahead of Luiz to send a glancing header inside the far post.
Arsenal thought they had equalised through substitute Gabriel Martinelli’s header, but Ryan got across to brilliantly push the ball to safety before pushing Nicolas Pepe’s free kick around the post. Albion saw out four minutes of stoppage time before congregating in front of 3,000 fans to celebrate a moment of history. What a night!
ALBION: Ryan, Alzate (Duffy 88), Webster, Dunk, Burn, Stephens, Propper, Mooy, Gross (Trossard 82), Connelly (Montoya 76), Maupay.
SUBS NOT USED: Button, Bissouma, Murray, Bernardo.
Christmas cracker at the Amex!