Super Eagles forward, Peter Osaze Odemwingie was on fire again last yesterday as West Brom capped an unforgettable week by outclassing Arsenal to secure a first away win in 18 top-flight games.
This goal brought to three Odemwingie’s Premiership goals since he joined the English club from Locomotiv Moscow after a disappointing World Cup outing with the Eagles under Swede coach Lars Lagerback.
After Chris Brunt had a first-half penalty saved, Odemwingie fired the opener from Jerome Thomas’s centre on 50 minutes after a barren first half at the Emirates Stadium.
Brunt fed Gonzalo Jara for the second, although Manuel Almunia should have saved his shot, and Thomas made it three after some dismal defending.
Samir Nasri scored a late double for Arsenal, but it provided little consolation for boss Arsene Wenger.
It was West Brom’s second major scalp in the space of four days following Wednesday night’s Carling Cup victory over Manchester City, but that was a game contested by what effectively amounted to two reserve sides.
This could hardly have been more different, a promoted Albion side producing a performance full of enterprise and endeavour to secure a famous win against a Premier League heavyweight.
True, the absence of a clutch of injured stars – including captain Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott – meant the home side lacked their usual creativity and fluency.
But Arsenal’s performance was as sloppy and error-strewn as West Brom’s was inspired and purposeful.
Sunderland had delivered an object lesson in how to contain Arsenal last weekend, pressing and harrying to deny the Gunners space and time, but only in the final throes of the game were West Brom forced to settle into a similar pattern.
If anything, until Nasri – who also hit the bar – led a belated Arsenal fightback, it was West Brom who looked more credible title contenders, although they first had to overcome a difficult start.
Perhaps betraying understandable unease at the prospect of facing an Arsenal attack that had previously been in electric form at home, scoring 16 goals in three games in all competitions, the Albion defence made a hash of a routine early clearance.
A series of attempts to usher the ball away ricocheted around the box, a skewed skyward punt followed, and the danger was finally snuffed out only when Jonas Olsson hacked down Emmanuel Eboue, earning a yellow card.
West Brom were soon in trouble again as Eboue swung in a cross from the right and Andrey Arshavin, nipping in ahead of Brunt, side-footed against the post.
Briefly, Arsenal threatened to click into gear as Marouane Chamakh headed a Sagna cross wide before Nasri drove a low 25-yard effort just the wrong side of Scott Carson’s left-hand upright.
But it proved a false dawn, and as West Brom began to press and close down their vaunted opponents, Arsenal looked increasingly discomfited and should have fallen behind when Almunia raced off his line before bringing down Odemwingie on the edge of the area.