West Bromwich 2 Arsenal 1

Blatter given the perfect riposte as Carter's gem dazzles Arsenal

Arsène Wenger was positively puce after young Darren Carter fanfared a courageous comeback with a glorious strike that consigned Arsenal to their third defeat of the season and lifted West Brom from the bottom three.

The visitors might well have been depleted but there were long patches when they hinted at the champions of old and only an inspired Chris Kirkland could be any sort of match for them.

No Thierry Henry, Sol Campbell, Ashley Cole, Alexander Hleb or Robin van Persie; this lot were, in hindsight, there for the taking. Nevertheless, with an attack boasting Dennis Bergkamp and Jose Antonio Reyes, not to mention nine other internationals, when the ball began to ping around The Hawthorns like lines on a training chart, it seemed that Philippe Senderos's opener - walloping in Reyes's inswinging corner on 17 minutes - would be the mere start of it.

And, in truth, when West Brom equalised in the 38th minute, Arsenal should have been three or even four clear. That they were not owed so much to Kirkland as well as to the right flank providing an outlet for their own forays.

It was from there that Martin Albrechtsen took Jonathan Greening's lead to deliver a crisp cross that Senderos could only ricochet into the middle of the area. Awaiting was Arsenal old boy Kanu swinging that maverick right boot to find Jens Lehmann's right-hand corner. Still in it; ambition very much alive.

Their light seemed to be flickering, however, when Kolo Touré scraped paint in the 55th minute and again when Kirkland dispossessed Bergkamp in the six-yard box. On this form Kirkland could dispossess the Artful Dodger in a phone box. If the England 24-year-old's gathering of Reyes's free-kick was elegant then his save off Mathieu Flamini's right-foot fizzer in the 66th minute was a thing of beauty.

Still, it was nothing compared to the veritable Miss World lying in Carter's vanity box. The £1.5m summer signing from Birmingham said he had plenty to prove and, after coming on in the 68th minute, how he proved it. Eight minutes was all he took to unfurl the 20-yard left-foot spectacular that threatened to break the roof of Lehmann's net. Game over. Mouths open. Wenger's mainly.

"We played like a youth team," he said, before lashing out at his usual target of international managers who insist on using his "injured" players. Yesterday he lost Freddie Ljungberg for three weeks with a hamstring injury. Wenger's frustration is easy to understand; the gap to Chelsea is now 14 points. "I have other problems to worry about," he said. Perhaps he should get Mr Blatter in for a team talk. It sure did the trick for the Baggies.

Comments