West Bromwich Albion were the latest side to benefit from Manuel Almunia’s goalkeeping blunders and Arsenal’s inconsistency as they caused the biggest Premier League upset on Saturday with a 3-2 win at the Emirates Stadium.
Almunia can be forgiven for conceding a first half penalty against Peter Odemwingie, who’s pace was too quick for the Arsenal defence and goalkeeper, who was committed into bringing the Nigerian striker down. The Spaniard made amends by saving the weak ensuing penalty from Chris Brunt.
Arsenal’s defence was left standing by the good footwork for Jerome Thomas as he setup Peter Odemwingie for the Baggies’ opener early in the second half. You would have been wrong to think that this would have drawn a response from the Arsenal side, as they failed to create any real opportunities between the visitors opening two goals. A clever Chris Brunt back heel released Gonzalo Jara down the right. The Chilean captain’s tame effort from a wide angle appeared to be a comfortable pick up for the Arsenal goalkeeper. That wasn’t the case as Almunia allowed the ball to deflect off him and into the net. 2-0.
Just when you thought thing’s couldn’t get any worse for the goalkeeper of the want-to-be title contenders, Manuel Almunia rushed out of his goal trying to close down Chris Brunt, without making an attempt to win the ball, thus leaving his goal exposed. The Northern Irish winger simply cut the ball back for Jerome Thomas to knock into an unguarded net. A horror show for the goalkeeper, who is repeatedly backed by his manager. For reason’s unknown.
A late show from Samir Nasri wasn’t enough as West Brom held on for a famous victory, and one that sends them to within 1 point of the five-time Premier League champions.
Arsene Wenger seemingly refused to splash out on either Mark Schwarzer or Shay Given, when given the opportunity to sign two of the better goalkeepers in the league over the summer. Now left with a group of incapable goalkeepers until January at least, Arsenal’s title hopes will be all but over by then. Qualification from their Champions League group remains in tact, and their FA Cup campaign doesn’t start until January, which leaves Arsenal a possibility of winning a major trophy this season should Wenger finally open the cheque book and bring in a goalkeeper worthy of competing for the major honours.