Alexandre Lacazette’s brace secured Arsenal a hard-fought 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion at the Emirates.
Arsenal’s record signing continued his fine start to life at the Emirates with goals either side of half-time, heading home the rebound from an Alexis Sanchez free-kick before converting a penalty after Aaron Ramsey had been fouled by Allan Nyom.
But West Brom’s manager Tony Pulis, a combustible presence on the sideline, would be entitled to feel aggrieved after Jay Rodriguez was denied what seemed a clear penalty of their own with the scores level after eight minutes.
Pulis had employed a more ambitious West Brom lineup than might have been expected, with Hal Robson-Kanu and Rodriguez making for a mobile, high-pressing front two. It was more than Arsenal could cope with at time.
A Gareth Barry pass over the top ought to have been shepherded to safety by Shkodran Mustafi, but he allowed Jay Rodriguez to claim the ball and burst into the area. Then the World Cup winner made the cardinal error of diving in, clipping the former Southampton striker with his trailing foot for what ought to have been a clear penalty.
Perhaps Bobby Madley played advantage a Rodriguez was soon up, whipping a powerful effort that Petr Cech did superbly to divert onto his far post. Jake Livermore contrived to put the rebound wide.
Arsenal made the most of their advantage as Lacazette found the net for the third time in three Emirates appearances, pouncing on Ben Foster’s save from an Alexis Sanchez free-kick.
West Brom had already been warned off the dead-ball danger Sanchez posed when he flashed a fourth minute free-kick wide of the post. A quarter of an hour later and Foster was called on to making a diving save to keep the Chilean’s effort out of the top corner. Lacazette was on hand to head home the rebound.
Still Arsenal wouldn’t learn. The impressive Grzegorz Krychowiak pounced on a misplaced Ramsey pass and was able to drive forward 50 yards with only Laurent Koscielny for company. With Mustafi in no-man’s land the Pole crossed for Rodriguez, whose header was acrobatically cleared off the line.
Arsenal grew more purposeful in attack during the second half as West Brom’s defence became increasingly robust, with Rodriguez lucky Madley did not notice his wild late tackle on Monreal.
Lacazette ought to have doubled his tally six minutes into the half but in taking a touch when laid in by Elneny allowed the West Brom defence to shield the shot from Foster.
And after 66 minutes of rigid, disciplined defence West Brom were punished for perhaps their first cardinal error. Ramsey rounded Nyom, who dragged down his man as he burst along the byline and into the area. Lacazette rolled the resulting penalty into the bottom right corner.
He might have had a hat-trick two minutes later when Sanchez’s brilliant volleyed pass found him on the shoulder of Hegazy. Lacazette rounded Foster but could not get over the bouncing ball as he volleyed it into the stands.
Victory moves Arsenal up to seventh, only a point off rivals Tottenham. Once more it appears they have ridden out an early season storm and are setting themselves up for a dash up the table.
(JAMES BENGE at Emirates Stadium)