Before Saturday's game, Tomas Rosicky had scored 13 goals in 123 Premier League games for Arsenal. On Sunday, he exploded for two more in Arsenal's 2-1 win over West Brom in a contest that would get very interesting in the last 20 minutes after Per Mertesacker was sent off.
West Brom would be the aggressor early in the game, but Arsenal would soon enough take over, controlling possession for much of the first 20 minutes.
And it would be the Gunners who would strike first in the 20th minute. After Mikel Arteta played a beautiful diagonal pass across the pitch to Gervinho, the speedy forward created space before playing a lovely cross to the head of Tomas Rosicky, who headed home the game's first goal.
Arsenal controlled much of the first half, and Aaron Ramsey had a fantastic chance to double the lead after a series of clever passes from Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud set him up in front of the net. Somehow, however, Ramsey pushed the shot wide off the side of his foot.
But Ramsey's gaffe would be forgiven early in the second frame, as Rosicky would strike again. After his strike was stopped by Ben Foster on an Arsenal counter-attack, Rosicky followed the rebound and found the back of the net for a second time.
Arsenal was fully in control and looked as though it would cruise to a 2-0 win. But things would get very, very interesting in the 70th minute.
Shane Long ran under a long lob pass played over the Arsenal defense, and Mertesacker took him down in the box. The German was given a red card, and West Brom a penalty kick, which James Morrison would rocket home.
Suddenly, Arsenal found themselves defending a 2-1 lead a man down. And things got hairy, as West Brom would ratchet up the pressure and create several excellent scoring opportunities.
But despite three golden scoring chances, West Brom failed to score, and the Gunners survived with three points and move into the top four ahead of Chelsea before the Blues match on Sunday.
Tomas Rosicky, Arsenal: A
Raise your hand if you predicted that Rosicky would score two goals in this game, or any other game for this matter. And by the way, if you are raising your hand right now, none of us believe you.
The two goals were excellent, but Rosicky was quite busy (and even a little chippy) throughout. He seemed to generally be in the thick of the action, and his creativity and poise on the ball was on full display in this contest. Without question, he was my man of the match.
Shane Long, Romelu Lukaku and Gareth McAuley, West Brom: C-
Forget about what happened throughout most of the match, as all three get a poor grade for failing to equalize late in the game as West Brom threatened with a man advantage.
McAuley pushed a header wide after a brilliant opportunity on a set piece.Romelu Lukaku—a second-half substitution, which may have been a tactical blunder to not start him by manager Steve Clarke—ripped a shot in the box wide right.
And Long—who, to his credit, did earn the penalty that sent Mertesacker off and led to Shane Morrison's penalty kick—sent a shot over the bar from the box himself.
There was a point available for West Brom, but the team failed to take it in the last 20 minutes. With that, a spot in the Europa League looks out of reach at this point.
Gervinho, Arsenal: A-
For as frustrating and unpredictable as Gervinho can be, I thought he was excellent in this game. Whereas I often lament his decision-making and first touch, in this game I thought Gervinho did well with both. He was consistently Arsenal's most threatening offensive player, and his individual effort on the first Rosicky goal was outstanding.
Santi Cazorla and Mikel Arteta, Arsenal: A-
Neither's performance may have stood out, but look closely, and these two helped Arsenal control the match. Cazorla's passing was once again crisp, and his creativity and vision spurred the Gunners forward on the attack.
Arteta did well in his holding midfielder role—namely in a very shaky 20 minutes to close the game—supporting the back line and playing the pass of the match when he found a streaking Gervinho with a diagonal lob that set up the first goal.