Match Reports

Match report: Albion held by Arsenal

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Potter's men can't find breakthrough in Gunners stalemate.

By Paul Camillin • 02 October 2021

By Paul Hazlewood
Shane Duffy's first half back-stick header went into the side netting.

Albion’s impressive start to the season continued with yet another dominant display, and while Graham Potter will be delighted with the performance, he will have felt his side should have turned this goalless draw into yet another win.

It was a rainswept night at the Amex, and while there cannot have been many wetter matches in the past ten years, Arsenal’s resolute defence, marshalled by Ben White on his first game against Albion, remained watertight. 

The Gunners, fresh from an impressive win over Spurs in the north London derby, arguably posed the toughest test of the fledgling campaign, but Albion started in confident fashion, quick to win back possession and keen to play on the front foot from the off. 

By Paul Hazlewood
Lewis Dunk fired an effort over, before play was brought back for a foul.

Marc Cucarella and Leandro Trossard caused problems for Arsenal on either flank early on, before Albion’s first real opportunity fell to Lewis Dunk midway through the half. Aaron Ramsdale spilled Neal Maupay’s cross from the left, Shane Duffy kept the chance alive before Dunk hooked his shot too high at close quarters. 

A super flowing move saw Maupay chip a clever pass for Adam Lallana bursting into the box. Lallana’s first time ball picked out Trossard in front of goal, but White got a vital touch to divert the ball over for a corner.

Pascal Gross' kick was only partially cleared and Dunk’s sweeping cross from deep on the right found Dan Burn, who’d cleverly worked space between Arsenal’s central defenders, but the towering defender’s header went high over the bar. 

Albion continued to pile on the pressure, and White was called upon again, this time to block an effort from Lallana, after the impressive Cucarella robbed Takehiro Tomiyasu before exchanging passes with Maupay and picking out Lallana. 

By Paul Hazlewood
Neal Maupay's acrobatic effort flew narrowly wide.

Monday’s last-gasp hero Maupay, and a regular thorn in Arsenal’s side in recent seasons, hooked a close-range attempt wide from the corner that followed. 

Little had been seen of the visitors as an attacking threat during the first half but Albion were given a warning just before half-time. 

After good work from Arsenal’s two main attacking threats Emile Smith-Rowe and Bukayo Saka, Thomas Partey’s low drive whistled just past the post; a timely reminder of the quality this young Arsenal side has in abundance. 

Albion went in at half-time fairly satisfied with a good opening 45 minutes’ work, but the main thrust of Graham Potter’s team talk focused on how his side could turn their dominance into a lead. 

Jakub Moder had a couple of sighters which veered off target early in the second half, and in between those two attempts, Duffy made a brilliant recovery interception to deny Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after he skipped round Rob Sanchez. Duffy wasn’t to know at the time, but the Arsenal striker was eventually flagged offside. 

Albion continued to make all the running, Maupay went for the spectacular after some clever footwork from Trossard on the left, but the Frenchman’s acrobatic scissors kick was too high to trouble Ramsdale. 

Arsenal had a rare chance on the break, as Partey’s pass sent Smith-Rowe clear with 15 minutes to play, but Duffy shepherded the Arsenal man wide and his shot from the angle was pushed away by Sanchez. 

Cucarella's speculative low cross shot had Ramsdale scrambling low to his left to push away the effort and Gross saw his follow up blocked at the expense of yet another corner. 

Ramsdale clawed away March’s knockdown as Maupay looked set to pounce and Duffy's header went just wide from the corner as Albion pressed until the end, but the goal they deserved didn't come. 

Albion: Sanchez, Veltman, Duffy, Dunk, Burn, Cucurella, Moder (Mac Allister 77), Lallana, Gross (March 84), Trossard, Maupay.

Unused subs: Steele, Lamptey, Connolly, Locadia, Roberts, Richards, Sarmiento.