West Bromwich Albion 1-1 Arsenal: Wilshere strike seals away point but Arsenal yearn for more

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Arsenal came back from a losing position to pick up a point at The Hawthornes and go top of the Premier League table with a 1-1 draw, but will wish they could have made more of their relative domination.

Jack Wilshere’s deflected shot found the back of the net to cancel out Claudio Yacob’s first half header.

Finishing with more possession and more shots, Arsenal only put five shots on target and could not unlock the West Brom defense to find a winner.

Saido Berainho made his first Premier League start for West Brom and got things off to a hot start. He nearly put a lucky strike in the back of the net in the 15th minute, but Wojciech Szczesny did well to react to the deflection off Berainho’s shot to make the diving save.

Arsenal were searching, clawing at the West Brom in the opening half, but the central partnership of the Baggies defense kept Giroud and company relatively at bay.

As West Brom looked to get themselves into the match, they struggled to maintain possession, but a moment of perfection changed the run of play.

Having earned a corner in the 42nd minute, the corner was a poor one from Morgan Amalfitano, but the ball came back to the French winger and he fired in a pinpoint cross which Claudio Yacob banged home for the opener.

It was the first time all season that Arsenal had conceded the first goal of a match, this season, a streak of 15 matches in all competitions dating back to last season.

source: Getty Images
Claudio Yacob and West Brom will be happy to hold the Premier League leaders to a point at home.

West Brom seemed to have new life after scoring, and it translated into the second half.

Less than two minutes into the second half, the Baggies nearly had another.  On the break, Berainho sent in an absolutely brilliant low cross – so good that Nicolas Anelka was surprised that it found his feet and didn’t react in time before his momentum carried him out of danger to Szczesny’s goal.

Five minutes later, Anelka got another chance but again he couldn’t put it on net, dragging his shot just wide from a very tight angle.

Arsenal began to work themselves back wide, something that had been sorely lacking in the first half.  Wenger brought off Aaron Ramsey, who was struggling on the wing, and brought on Tomas Rosicky. The change sparked the squad, and they responded.

Olivier Giroud won himself some space, and he found Rosicky in the box.  The winger laid it off to Jack Wilshere, who unleashed a powerful strike that took a deflection just enough to cause Jaaskelainen to hesitate and the ball found the goal.

Arsenal, now level, returned to their dominating ways of early in the first half, but struggled to find another final product for the win.

West Bromwich Albion climb out of the relegation zone with the three points, moving all the way up to 12th with nine points and sends them off to Stoke City next with a chance to go top 10.

GOALS

West Bromwich Albion – Yacob 42′
Arsenal – Wilshere 63′

LINEUPS:

West Bromwich Albion – Myhill; Olsson, Ridgewell, McAuley, Jones; Yacob, Mulumbu, Sessegnon (Morrison, 78′), Amalfitano (Brunt, 89′); Anelka (Long, 69′), Berainho.

Arsenal – Szczesny; Mertesacker, Koscienly, Jenkinson, Gibbs; Arteta, Wilshere, Ramsey (Rosicky, 59′), Flamini, Ozil; Giroud (Bendtner, 85′).

Report: Newcastle activates $12m release clause of ex-Arsenal youth

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Reports out of Turkey say Newcastle United have finally struck the transfer market for a new No. 10.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Aksam reports that Rafa Benitez got the Magpies hierarchy to activate a near $12 million release clause for Besiktas midfielder Oguzhan Ozyakup.

The 25-year-old was part of Arsenal’s youth set-up until 2012, making two League Cup appearances in 2011-12 before moving to Besiktas.

Dutch-born Ozyakup is 35-times capped with a goal for Turkey, twice captaining the Crescent-Stars.

Ozyakup lost playing time to Talisca this season, and registered just four assists in 24 appearances. In 219 appearances for Besiktas, he’s posted 27 goals with 50 assists.

Like the move for Newcastle?

Lukaku pens inspiring post on hard-scrabble upbringing

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Manchester United and Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku has an inspiring and emotional post in The Players’ Tribune which tugs at the heart strings and explains his competitive fire.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Lukaku talks about how his family’s poverty caused him to become a fierce competitor in the hopes of meeting his dreams head-on and providing for his family.

The Belgian, 25, scored twice in his side’s 3-0 World Cup-opening win over Panama earlier this week, and is now far removed from his youth, but he tells his story as if it lives fresh in his mind.

From The Players’ Tribune:

There were even times when my mum had to “borrow” bread from the bakery down the street. The bakers knew me and my little brother, so they’d let her take a loaf of bread on Monday and pay them back on Friday.

Lukaku also talks about racism in football, his debut for Anderlecht, and that aforementioned competitive drive. It’s 100 percent worth the read.

West Ham signs club record center back from Toulouse

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West Ham has reportedly set a club record with its latest signing under new manager Manuel Pellegrini.

Issa Diop is the player, the 21-year-old Toulouse captain and center back costing the Irons around $29 million.

[ MORE: Arsenal signs Leno ]

Diop scored three goals with an assist and eight yellow cards in 31 Ligue 1 matches this season, giving the young defender 95 apps, six goals, three assists, and 23 yellows since debuting with the senior team at 18.

Capped by France at every level below the senior team, Diop’s 2.2 interceptions per game ranked sixth in Ligue 1.

Toulose finished 18th in Ligue 1, but won its promotion/relegation playoff to stay in the French top flight.

From WHUFC.com:

“I am very happy to sign for such a historic, English club, and I hope to show my best here. I am a very ambitious player and West Ham is a very ambitious club, as we’ve seen with the appointment of the new coach. I hope to help the team win lots of games and make the fans happy.”

Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show: Episode 3

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In the third episode of Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show, England pulls out a massive win while VAR finds its way into the World Cup spotlight.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ] 

There will be plenty more to come over the next few weeks, with the show coming via the Men In Blazers.

Click play on the video above to watch the first episode in full.