Robin van Persie hit the cross-bar and Ramsey, who was following up, managed to only shoot straight at Scott Carson. But without their captain Cesc Fabregas and Alex Song, they lacked the drive in midfield and toiled their way in search of a goal. In the second half, Wenger hauled off the unimpressive Denilson to bring on Marouane Chamakh to partner Van Persie.
Arsenal were building a good spell of pressure when Almunia proved that experience makes no difference for some players. It was a clearance from West Bromwich Albion which led to the second goal. Odemwingie was isolated and had no support from his team mates. He was shielded by Squillaci whose positioning if not the best was certainly not the worst. Almunia took a stupid decision to come out of the box to clear the ball and all the striker needed to do was to roll it into the empty net.
It is quite likely that had Djourou been present, Arsenal would not have conceded the opener and if Szczesny had played, he would not have made such a useless decision. Though Szczesny made an error in the Birmingham game in the Cup final, it was due to a communication error than a goalkeeping mistake. Szczesny has shown great maturity in the games this season and Fabianski has shown that he can be consistently good for the Gunners.
Arsenal's late fightback salvaged a point for the Gunners but the bitter taste left by Almunia's mistake is hard to take for an Arsenal supporter. In the reverse fixture at the Emirates, Almunia was the no.1 keeper and had performed decently in the few matches before the game. He made a good penalty save but made "school-boy" errors in the game which cost the Gunners all three points. It seemed at that point that his Arsenal career was over with Fabianski and later Szczesny impressing in his absence.
Arsenal's extraordinary bad luck meant that both their keepers would get injured and Almunia would again get the chance to be the no.1 keeper till the end of the season. Almunia was excellent in the game against Barca where it was only shot-stopping. His horrible decision making and his inability to control the penalty area have led to Arsenal squandering a number of points in the last few seasons.
Almunia was again handed the chance to redeem himself against West Brom and has cost Arsenal another two points. In seven league appearances, Almunia has cost Arsenal five points which could have been avoided had he not made errors. On the other hand, Lukasz Fabianski has made 14 appearances and the goal by Carroll is the only goal that he could have probably done better. In games against Wolves, Everton and Manchester City, he was one of the best performers and even won some man of the match awards.
Szczesny has made eight appearances in the league and has won a number of plaudits for his faultless performances in the league. Almunia has been given a number of opportunities by Wenger and he is clearly below the standard of an Arsenal keeper and has contributed to Arsenal's trophy drought with his numerous errors including one against Birmingham last year which was the start of the slump for the Gunners.
Almunia's career should have ended against West Bromwich Albion at the Emirates back in September but Wenger must ensure it ends after another horror show by Almunia against West Brom at the Hawthorns. Lehmann was dispossessed of the no.1 keeper slot by Almunia and must be provided with the honour of stripping the Spaniard's goalkeeping slot for Arsenal.