Alexis Sanchez lifts Emirates mood with two goals against West Brom

Alexis Sanchez scores his and Arsenal's second goal against West Brom. Picture: Nick Potts/PA

Of all the times, of all the places, for Alexis Sanchez to remind us all that world-class football can be played in an Arsenal shirt after all.

The time, of course, is far too late as far as this season is concerned, although this win - Arsenal’s 500th in the Premier League — did take the Gunners back above Manchester City into third.

The place was an Emirates Stadium noticeably less full than usual. The club announced there were “59,568 tickets sold” but clearly not everyone in possession had turned up.

Alexis Sanchez lifts Emirates mood with two goals against West Brom

True, there are plenty of other things to do in London on a Thursday night — a restaurant where you can dine naked is coming soon, it emerged before kick-off — but many Gooners disillusioned with yet another close but no cigar season under Arsene Wenger had voted with their feet.

Which was a shame because they missed two goals from Alexis that promised better times to come. Mind you, Wenger says that every month at some point...

If ever there was an occasion that needed 10,000 volts to be sent pulsing through it this was it and it turned out Alexis required just six minutes to energise those who had bothered coming.

The Chilean accepted Mesut Ozil’s pass and squirmed away from Sandro so deftly it made the former Tottenham midfielder look like one of the statues Mauricio Pochettino plans to erect at White Hart Lane should Spurs somehow win the title.

Three striped shirts did converge but it was too late, a low drive destined for the net had already been despatched.

Ozil would have doubled the lead soon after but for some brave defending by Jonny Evans, who threw himself in the way of the German’s close-range effort following a cut back from Nacho Monreal.

West Brom finally forced a couple of corners, with Alexis hitting the ball against his own hand trying to shepherd the ball away but referee Jon Moss waved away appeals for a penalty.

Alexis Sanchez lifts Emirates mood with two goals against West Brom

Remarkably, West Brom won another corner and almost scored from it, with Gareth McAuley’s near post header smacking the bar. A let off, then, for the Gunners.

One for Ben Foster followed as he allowed Ozil’s tame shot to trickle under him. It would have gone in but for Craig Dawson, one of two men on the line, who disposed of it as though it was a grenade with the pin out.

The reprieve was short-lived however. The recalled Aaron Ramsey went on a run that ended with a free kick just outside the box and dead central. Alexis hit it, Olivier Giroud moved out of the way at the last moment and Foster remained rooted to the spot as the net rippled.

Tony Pulis made a double change in the hope of altering the storyline, with Jonas Olsson replacing James Chester at the back and Salomon Rondon added at Sandro’s expense to help Saido Berahino up front.

Alex Iwobi set up Giroud for a shot Foster was able to save but James McClean soon tested Petr Cech at the other end with a header.

Iwobi, who has just become a full Nigeria international, showed skills worthy of uncle Jay Jay Okocha but two swerving runs into the box came to nothing.

Albion were only occasional visitors to the other box but one delivery into the danger zone found Rondon at the far post but his touch, at full stretch, turned out to be more clearance than shot.

Iwobi tried to dance his way through again at the other end but this time he got his steps all wrong and was substituted second later, to deserved applause.

Wenger made two more changes nearer the end, with Joel Campbell, on for Alexis, almost scoring with his first contribution.

“We did the job in a serious way,” Wenger said. “We played well technically and the only regret is we should have scored more goals.

“We did not always make the maximum points in other games for the quality of our play. It looks like Sanchez is back sharper, more confident. In the first half he was more exceptional.

“Of course we have regrets. We had two draws when we should have won the game several times and when you do that you pay for it.”

ARSENAL:

Cech; Bellerin, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Monreal; Ramsey, Elneny; Alexis (Campbell 84), Ozil (Walcott 84), Iwobi (Coquelin 83); Giroud.

Subs not used:

Gabriel, Ospina, Chambers, Welbeck.

WEST BROM:

Foster; Dawson, McAuley, Evans, Chester (Olsson 46); Fletcher, Sandro (Rondon 46), Yacob; Sessegnon, Berahino, McClean (Gardner 65).

Subs not used:

Anichebe, Myhill, McManaman, Leko.

Referee:

Jon Moss

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