Sunday, 4 May 2014

EPL Super Sunday - LIVE Coverage:

Hello again everyone and welcome to my latest blog post where I have LIVE Coverage of today's afternoon matches in the EPL. Today, there are two matches being played:- 

Arsenal vs West Brom at 1.30pm and Chelsea vs Norwich at 4pm. 

I will be covering the first match of two at The Emirates, while having a match report from Chelsea's game being posted tomorrow. Link to follow. 

But first, a recap of the matches being played yesterday afternoon:
  • West Ham record their 3rd straight win over Tottenham with a 2-0 win at Upton Park, thanks to goals from Harry Kane (OG) and Stewart Downing
  • Aston Villa secured their place in next season's Premier League with a 3-1 win over Hull - with young striker Weimann completing a brace
  • United lost their 12th match of the season at home against Sunderland, thanks to a lone goal from Sebastian Larsson
  • Newcastle were comfortable as they beat Cardiff 3-0 at home, despite boos from both sections of supporters in the ground
  • Stoke were vicious at home as they thrashed Fulham 4-1 thanks to goals from Arnautovic, Odemwingie, Assaidi and Walters
  • A last-minute winner from Rickie Lambert gave Southampton all three points as they won away from home against Swansea
  • Manchester City moved to the top of the table on goal-difference with a narrow 3-2 win at Goodison Park thanks to goals from Aguero and a double from Dzeko. Barkley stole the show as Everton did well to compete for long-periods of the game, but City did well to hold on

The team line-ups:

Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal (Vermaelen 80'), Flamini, Arteta (Kallstrom 63'), Cazorla (Rosicky 69'), Ozil, Podolski and Giroud.

Subs not used: Fabianski, Jenkinson, Diaby and Sanogo. 

Only the one change from the 3-0 win against Newcastle on Monday, Ramsey is out of action with a minor thigh strain so is replaced promptly while Gibbs is still unavailable due to injury. 

Monreal starts, and Diaby returns to the first-team as he is named as a substitute. 

West Brom: Foster, Dawson, Lugano, Olsson, Brunt, Amalfitano (Anichebe 80'), Mulumbu (Vydra 84'), Dorrans, Morrison, Sessegnon and Berahino. 

Subs not used: Myhill, Yacob, McAuley, O'Neil and Sinclair.

Anichebe and Scott Sinclair are among the subs bench for West Brom in a strong side made by Pepe Mel as they look to be the first team to beat Arsenal at The Emirates since Aston Villa in August. 

Referee - Mike Jones

13:25 - The teams are waiting patiently in the tunnel as the referee leads them out onto the London sunshine.

13:26 - You may or may not know this, but these are April's Player and Manager of the Month awards:

13:27 - Pre-match handshakes are taking place at the moment to warm applause from both sides.

This could be Sagna's last home match for Arsenal as his contract expires in the summer (pending contract extension talks are not successful)

13:28 - Nothing to do with this match, but Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero has announced that he is "fit" to feature in the last week of the Premier League season next week, after he was taken off in the first-half with a groin strain in yesterday evening's 3-2 win against Everton. 

13:30 - The referee is looking as his watch as he is about to blow this whistle to kick-off the match at The Emirates.

0: The referee does eventually blow his whistle, the first-half has begun. 

4: First real chance for Arsenal, good play - a nice chipped flick into the box by Ozil falls to Giroud who plays the ball back to Podolski, who hits the ball first time but it fizzes into the advertising board past the post. 

6: Good sliding clearance by Koscielny to deny Berahino an opportunity to burst past him after an outside-of-the-foot through ball towards the young English striker is intercepted well.

7: Close! West Brom have their first real chance of the game as the ball falls to Berahino on the edge of the box, he runs towards the byline by as he shapes to shoot he is closed down well by Koscielny and his attempted strike is deflected into the arms of Szczesny. Wake-up call? 

12: Patient build-up play in the midfield from Arsenal, passing the ball around and pushing West Brom back into their own half to try and force a mistake.

13: Good attacking movement by Ozil to weave his way past the West Brom defence near the touchline and a cheeky drop of the shoulder before the ball falls to Cazorla, well-struck shot but deflected over the bar for a corner. Could be dangerous. 

14: GOAL! I said it could be dangerous, and I was proved right! An inswinging corner was whipped into the box well and deep towards the head of Giroud, who powered past the West Brom defenders to poke his header past Foster into the net.
Heads I score: Giroud breaks the deadlock with a header in the 14th minute
Arsenal lead by a goal to nil, and it's Giroud's 16th league goal of the season.

16: Arsenal have pushed on the counter attack now as they try and give themselves a comfortable enough lead, playing from the centre of midfield and passing across to the flanks.

31: West Brom start to pick up the pace, having a few chances. Morrison has a long-range effort from 45 yards out as he sees Szczesny off his line, but fails to hit the target, before another long-range effort is parried by Szczesny and Berahino has efforts over the bar.

Pepe Mel will be encouraged but he will want his players to hit the target to test the Polish goalkeeper.  

34: Good save diving low to his right by Foster to deny Cazorla from making it 2-0 after a good passing move into the 18-yard box. 

38: Tentative defending from Arsenal as they are desperate to keep up the pressure on their visitors when they have the ball, but do not want to give away any needless fouls. 

39: Amalfitano has a whipped cross into the box headed clear by Koscielny, out for a corner.

40: Corner comes of nothing. Waste from West Brom.

41: A patient piece of build-up play by Arsenal almost results in another goal for the hosts. Koscielny bursts down the field with pace as he adds another option with Cazorla and Giroud running either side of him. 

Ozil dribbles past the West Brom markers towards him, eventually finding Giroud with a through ball but the Frenchman's resulting shot is deflected off a West Brom defender into Foster's hands. 

45: The fourth official signals for just 2 minutes of stoppage time to be added on at the end of the first-half.

45+1: Close! Ball falls to Flamini just outside the area and he takes a well-struck drive towards goal first time, but Foster catches the ball as it flies at him.

45+2: Corner-kick with a few seconds remaining of the first-half, but Foster jumps high and parries the ball away to safety as the referee blows his whistle.

Arsenal lead 1-0 thanks to a 14th minute header by Olivier Giroud. The Gunners have been dominant in terms of passing and possession, but have not had many clear-cut chances apart from the goal which should encourage Pepe Mel and his side who have taken the game to their opponents and have not exactly let them play "the Arsenal way."

14:18 - West Brom need to test Szczesny more often if they are to equalise, Berahino looks dangerous on the counter attack but he needs to see more of the ball, as do the rest of his team.

14:33 - The second-half has begun at The Emirates. Arsenal lead 1-0, no substitutions at half-time.

49: A spell of West Brom pressure inside the Arsenal half is clearly working, they are not giving as much time or space as they previously were in the first-half and are doing their best to retain ball possession.

50: Wenger does not look too happy, West Brom have come out for the second-half with freedom and the ability to pressure their opponents while Arsenal are obviously under pressure to win the game.

52: And finally Arsenal are starting to emerge from the shadow and play with a spring in their step.

Not particularly attractive football at the minute but they are keeping hold of possession and trying to deliver balls into the box, Sagna's cross was comfortably held by Foster.

55: Good defending by Sagna on the backfoot as Sessegnon goes on the counter attack and runs with speed past Monreal on the flank, before Sagna cuts inside him and clears the danger into the stand. 

Highlights an area that Arsenal need to isolate, the pace and counter attack of West Brom. Sessegnon and Berahino.

56: West Brom corner is well cleared away by Sagna, before the ball falls to Ozil, who tries to find a team-mate with an over-the-top ball, but Flamini mis-interprets the flight of the ball and West Brom pass it out from the back.

60: Another standout performance from Ozil, looks so confident and full of quality on the flank.

He passes the ball to Monreal and immediately gets it back, skills his way past two West Brom defenders before crossing the ball deep into the box for a team-mate to latch onto, but Olsson gets there first and heads the ball out for a corner.

62: Arsenal keep up the pressure as they get forward on the flank and another attempted cross is deflected out for a corner, while they prepare for a change. 

63: Arsenal SUB:
Mikel Arteta OFF
Kim Kallstrom ON

A smart move by Wenger as Arteta is replaced by Kallstrom with just under 30 minutes to play. 

The experienced Spaniard looks jaded and is replaced by Swedish midfielder Kallstrom who is still yet to complete a 90-minute game for The Gunners on his loan spell from Russian side Spartak Moscow in the January transfer window.

64: Nacho Monreal is given the first yellow card of the match after clearly holding onto the back of Sessegnon's shirt as he tried to burst past him. Clear foul, no complaints.

68: Arsenal doing well to hold off West Brom's advances as of yet, Mertesacker and Koscielny solid at the back, especially as The Baggies are winning more set-pieces.

70: Arsenal SUB:
Santi Cazorla OFF

Tomas Rosicky ON

Rosicky replaces fans' favourite Cazorla with 20 minutes to play. Cazorla has been quiet in the second-half and is consequently replaced by the Czech attacking midfielder Rosicky, who has been known for his energy, reliability and non-stop stamina in recent years.

71: I expect a nervy last 20 minutes to play for Arsenal if the scoreline stays the same. West Brom know that there is all to play for and they are pressurising their hosts. 

Amalfitano came close with an attempted strike after getting in-behind the Arsenal defence, but between Szczesny and Mertesacker the ball was smothered and the danger was cleared. 

73: Close! Unlucky from Ozil as the ball falls to him from a header towards him by Giroud but the ball bobbles on the ground and he is closed down well by 3 West Brom defenders as he shapes to shoot and his effort trickles past the post and out for a goal-kick.

74: Cameras have shown that on-loan Newcastle striker Loic Remy is watching the match at The Emirates.

Rumours will be speculating now that he is ready to join Arsenal in the summer, with parent club QPR already admitting that the Frenchman will most probably leave the club at the end of the season in search for a team who can offer Champions League football, and Arsenal can do that..

75: Arsenal have looked lethargic in the second-half as if they are happy to take the 1-0 win and close out the game, but whenever that is the game plan it is dangerous. 

West Brom looking to equalise with just under 15 minutes plus stoppage time to play, they are looking dangerous on the counter attack and with set-pieces.

76: Close again! Podolski almost kills off the game with a half-volley from 8 yards out, Foster is beaten by the strike which bounces off the crossbar and falls into his hands. 

80: Two substitutions coming on with just over 10 minutes left, one for either side -

Arsenal SUB:
Nacho Monreal OFF
Thomas Vermaelen ON 

Vermaelen is brought on to help solidify the Arsenal defence for the last 10 minutes or so, Monreal is already on a yellow card so a smart change from Wenger again. No more subs left though.

West Brom SUB:
Morgan Amalfitano OFF
Victor Anichebe ON

Anichebe comes on to try and beef up the West Brom strikeforce, Amalfitano has shown flashes of good play but hasn't done enough. 

88: Just 2 minutes plus stoppage time remain for Arsenal to hold on as it were, a corner to the hosts after Podolski's attempted cross was well dealt with by the West Brom defence. 

89: Sagna's cross into the box falls to an Arsenal head... but Kallstrom does not connect with the ball properly and it bounces away from goal. 

90: The fourth official has signalled for 3 minutes of stoppage time to be played as Berahino falls onto the turf as he tries to control the ball on the counter attack, to ironic cheers from the home support.

90+1: West Brom corner is cleared away, and the referee brandishes yellow cards to Dorrans and Giroud after an argument between the two.

90+2: A potential good cross into the box is not taken by the West Brom attackers and Arsenal let the ball run out of play for a goal-kick. Szczesny walks over to get the ball, and that will be that for the match.

90+3: The referee blows his whistle to end the match! Arsenal do well to hold on for a 1-0 win at home against West Brom, in their last home match of the Premier League season thanks to a headed effort from Olivier Giroud. 

13th home win for Arsenal, only the one loss at The Emirates, against Aston Villa on the opening day.