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Page last updated at 13:46 GMT, Saturday, 16 August 2008 14:46 UK

Arsenal 1-0 West Brom

By Paul Fletcher

Samir Nasri celebrates scoring for Arsenal
Nasri made a bright Premier League debut for Arsenal

Arsenal kicked off the new Premier League season with a win over West Brom as Samir Nasri scored on his debut.

Nasri struck from six yards after four minutes following Denilson's cutback.

Nicklas Bendtner headed wide and Emmanuel Adebayor missed with a low shot across goal as the Gunners failed to score a decisive second.

West Brom went close through Do-Heon Kim and Ishmael Miller, who both forced Manuel Almunia into action, while Johan Djourou made a clearance off the line.

The Baggies might have lost but there was plenty for manager Tony Mowbray to take from the game as his team held firm after conceding so early.

Arsenal fans could be forgiven for wondering if they had not seen it all before; their team dominating large parts of a fixture but lacking a cutting edge and clinical precision in the final third.

Interview: Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger

It had all started to plan for the home team as they handed their opponents West Brom a swift lesson in the standards required to compete in the Premier League.

The Baggies had still to find any sort of rhythm when they were cut apart by a smooth interchange of passes involving Bendtner, Gael Clichy and Denilson that led to Nasri's opener.

Theo Walcott then had a header blocked by Paul Robinson that had more than a suspicion of handball about it and William Gallas narrowly missed with the cleanest of strikes from fully 35 yards as Arsenal pushed for a second.

The Gunners were rampant but Mowbray saw his team maintain their shape and discipline - and gradually ease their way into the contest.

Arsenal continued to occasionally threaten - Bendtner headed wide from a corner and Scott Carson saved from 12m summer signing Nasri - but it was far from the onslaught of the opening phase.

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And the Baggies created a couple of openings, usually from a long ball aimed towards the combative Miller.

Miller flicked the ball towards Korean Kim, who held off his marker and forced a save from Almunia with a drilled shot. And the Baggies came agonisingly close to an equaliser when Miller sprung the offside strap and forced Almunia into action again, with Djourou blocking Robinson's follow-up close to his own goalline.

The incident led to heated debate within the Arsenal defensive ranks and seemed to sting the home team into life. Within seconds Adebayor had been played through and the Togo international should have scored but he placed his low shot across goal and wide.

Adebayor, who had a poor afternoon in front of goal, drilled a shot wide from the edge of the area while the Gunners did put the ball in the net again but Walcott was penalised for offside.

Tony Mowbray praises effort and energy

Substitute Robin van Persie forced a save from Carson with a header after 82 minutes. It was the first stop of the second half for the Baggies keeper.


Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger:
"We always looked in control and I always thought the second goal would come.

"But West Brom defended very well and we lacked a bit of sharpness around the box. Credit to West Brom.

"If the second does not come you can be punished in the last 10 minutes. But Samir Nasri had a good game and we are happy with the three points."

West Brom boss Tony Mowbray:
"Arsenal were flowing and we had a few problems down the right but credit to my players we showed we had a threat.

"We did not take a hammering and could have nicked one and we have got to take the positives from the match.

"I think we will be OK as long as we work as hard as we did today."


Arsenal: Almunia, Sagna, Gallas, Djourou, Clichy, Walcott (Toure 72), Denilson, Nasri, Eboue, Adebayor, Bendtner (Van Persie 69).
Subs Not Used: Fabianski, Vela, Ramsey, Wilshere, Randall.

Goals: Nasri 4.

West Brom: Carson, Hoefkens, Barnett, Meite, Robinson, Brunt (Beattie 80), Morrison, Greening, Kim, Cech (MacDonald 68), Miller (Bednar 74).
Subs Not Used: Kiely, Dorrans, Pele, Martis.

Att: 60,071

Ref: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire).


BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Arsenal's Samir Nasri 8.18 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.




see also
Saturday's football photos
16 Aug 08 |  Football
Premier League as it happened
16 Aug 08 |  Premier League
How to watch Match of the Day
08 Oct 07 |  Match of the Day


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