A much-changed Arsenal side was forced to survive extra time and then penalties before edging past West Brom to set up a Capital One Cup fourth round meeting with Chelsea. Nacho Monreal struck the decisive penalty into the net at the Hawthorns as the visitors won 4-3 on penalties following a largely forgettable 1-1 draw after 120 minutes.
Arsenal made 10 changes to their starting lineup, with Per Mertesacker the only man to keep his place from Sunday’s 3-1 win over Stoke City. His opposite number was similarly placing his priorities elsewhere as Steve Clarke made eight changes. It was two of the rising stars given a run out that got the goals. German 18-year-old Serge Gnabry put Arsenal in front after 61 minutes, but England Under-21 international Saido Berahino, who got a hat-trick in the last round of the League Cup, drew West Brom level just 10 minutes later.
West Brom had chances to win the match in extra time, but the match would be decided on penalties. The home side relinquished the initiative threw away the initiative given them by Gnabry’s miss as Craig Dawson and Morgan Amalfitano each failed to hit the target to leave Monreal to hit home the winning kick.
The first half passed by with neither goalkeeper forced into any work of note. Nicklas Bendtner had an unfortunate start to his return to the Arsenal side after a two-year absence when he collided with a post. The closest that the match came to an opening goal, though, was when a well-struck free-kick from distance by Steven Reid clipped the top of the crossbar.
It wasn’t until just past the hour mark that the match finally came to life. Gnabry started the move by intercepting a pass inside the opposition half before finding Bendtner. And the returning Dane deserves much credit for a precise pass forward to Eisfeld, whose excellent first touch took him past the last defender before he fired low past West Brom goalkeeper Luke Daniels at his near post.
But it was not a lead that would last long. Arsenal allowed a corner from the left ran through to Shane Long at the back post, who lifted the ball back into the danger zone and, from six yards out, Berahino rose unmarked to head past Lukasz Fabianski.
That was the way things remained as both managers were forced to endure an extra 30 minutes that surely neither wanted. Wenger’s frustration would only have been heightened at the sight of Mikel Arteta being forced off with an injury on his return to the starting lineup.
Still, Arsenal had the first chance of extra time. Bendtner, though, was unable to take advantage as he delayed far too long when he was played clean through on goal and allowed Dawson to get back and make a good tackle.
It was West Brom that were the side pushing to bring an end to the contest without the need of penalties. Markus Rosenberg missed a couple of presentable chances before setting up Scott Sinclair in the dying seconds for a horrendous volley wide. The closest to a winner came when substitute Morgan Amalfitano smashed a shot against the crossbar.
The loan signing from Marseille would enjoy further frustration minutes later in the shootout as his miss allowed Monreal to take Arsenal through to face London rivals Chelsea next month.
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.