Giroud header seals Arsenal success against West Brom
15:24 04 May 2014
Arsenal 1 West Brom 0
Olivier Giroud’s early strike was enough to clinch Arsenal’s fourth straight victory and maintain their strong finish to the season.
Already assured of fourth place thanks to Everton’s defeat by Manchester City on Saturday, the Gunners completed their home campaign with a win that was more comfortable than the scoreline might suggest.
In an open game, both sides carved out early opportunities, with Lukas Podolski firing a snap shot wide and Saido Berahino getting away from Bacary Sagna but failing to seriously trouble Wojciech Szczesny.
Arsenal went ahead on 14 minutes when Santi Cazorla’s drive spun off Youssouf Mulumbu and over the bar and the Spaniard delivered a corner that Giroud nodded home at the near post for his 22nd goal of the season.
Looking comfortable in possession, the Gunners might have extended their lead as Cazorla’s crafty dink over the top fell for Mathieu Flamini, who was denied by the legs of Ben Foster.
The Baggies goalkeeper made two further saves just before half-time, diving low to his right to push Cazorla’s sharp attempt around the post and then gathering a more routine effort from Flamini.
At the other end, Berahino and Craig Dawson both put hopeful attempts over the bar, while Stephane Sessegnon surprised Szczesny as he cut inside and unleashed a 25-yard drive that stung the keeper’s palms.
The visitors briefly threatened at the start of the second half as Sessegnon raced clear on the break, but Sagna – making what is likely to be his final appearance at the Emirates – came to Arsenal’s rescue.
And the Gunners were almost caught out when Berahino spun neatly to thread a pass through for Morgan Amalfitano, but Szczesny did enough to force him wide.
With Mesut Ozil pulling the strings in midfield, it seemed only a matter of time before Arsenal increased their advantage, and their German playmaker came close to doing just that.
The visitors gave away possession on the edge of the box and Giroud headed the ball on, but it stuck under the feet of Ozil and he could only stab wide.
Podolski almost found the net late on, swinging his left boot at an Ozil cross that deflected into his path, but the ball bounced off the post, and Foster reacted first to paw it clear.
In the long run, it made little difference as Arsenal closed out the game and ensured that they remained unbeaten at home in the league since the first day of the season.
Arsenal: Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal (Vermaelen 80); Arteta (Kallstrom 63), Flamini; Cazorla (Rosicky 70), Ozil, Podolski; Giroud.