West Brom’s record against the teams above them in the Premier League table was well documented before the game against Arsenal, with Albion only gaining one point from a possible 27 available to them against the top seven, but that was all about to change.
Despite earning just one solitary draw against the leagues top seven, a 1-1 draw with Tottenham Hotspur, the Baggies certainly came into the game with some hope, with Arsenal in crisis and their manager under pressure.
From minute one, the tactics were clear, frustrate the opposition and hit them on the counter or through set pieces. It proved to be the perfect gameplan, with Pulis’ men scoring two goals from corners, both scored by Craig Dawson, and one on the counter attack through Hal Robson-Kanu.
But having a gameplan is one thing, to pull off a result like that requires much more. It requires heart, desire, work rate and intensity. The whole West Brom squad showed that within their performance, but one player showed more than any other, James McClean.
I’ve been quite a critic of McClean in recent months, in that he doesn’t provide enough danger to the opposition, considering the attributes he has. However, he was sensational against Arsenal.
He hassled, harried and showed real desire in trying to win the game for his team, whilst also being a real danger with his pace on the counter-attack. In fact, it was his run and shot that won the corner from which Dawson scored the opening goal.
He may not have the quality that the likes of Matt Phillips, James Morrison, Chris Brunt or Nacer Chadli possess, but he more than made up for that with his attitude and commitment for his team, he typified everything good about the superb win against the Gunners.
If only a couple of the Arsenal players had the desire, commitment and attitude that James McClean has, they would not be in the position they find themselves in.