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Gunners fail to fire in opening day win.

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SAMIR NASRICOS debut strike may have given Arsenal three points, but the Gunners did nothing to suggest that they have what it takes to fire themselves all the way to title this season.The French winger, who signed from Marseille last month, took just four minutes to open his account for Arsene WengerCOs side as he converted DenilsonCOs pass from close range.But Arsenal failed to build on that flying start and West Brom, making their return to the Premier League after winning promotion last season, might have caused their opponents significant embarrassment had they applied a finish to some promising possession.And that as much as the lack of activity in the summer sales will have fans worried that any thoughts of Premier League glory this season are nothing more than fanciful. The Gunners have lost key midfielders Mathieu Flamini and Alexander Hleb. And even allowing for the injury crisis that has seen Cesc Fabregas and Tomas Rosicky sidelined, ArsenalCOs lack of depth was glaringly apparent from the quickest of glances at their team-sheet. They started the afternoon with a side boasting just one outfield player - William Gallas - over the age of 25.But Wenger declared himself happy with the opening win. C[pounds sterling]We always looked in control and I always thought the second goal would come,C[yen] he said. C[pounds sterling]But West Brom defended very well and we lacked a bit of sharpness around the box. Credit to West Brom.C[pounds sterling]Samir Nasri had a good game and we are happy with the three points.C[yen]

Albion were sliced open in the fourth minute when Gael ClichyCOs measured pass released Denilson in ArsenalCOs left channel. Some neat footwork took the Brazilian to the byline and a precise cut-back allowed Nasri to score with ease.But for all their industry Arsenal couldnCOt get the second and the game gradually became a genuine contest.Chances for the visitors remained scarce but they were within inches of drawing level in the 30th minute, when Do-Heon Kim forced Manuel Almunia into a good save.An energised Albion started the second half in determined fashion and, within five minutes, Almunia was called into action again, the Spaniard blocking Ishmael MillerCOs low shot.

Wenger, clearly ruffled by his teamCOs failure to nail down an emphatic victory, dispatched Robin van Persie from theAa bench and the Dutchman almost got the vital second with 10 minutes to go. But it stayed 1-0 and WBA boss Tony Mowbray was proud of his players, saying: C[pounds sterling]We did not take a hammering and could have nicked one. We have got to take the positives.C[yen] ARSENAL: Almunia, Sagna, Gallas, Djourou, Clichy, Walcott (Toure 72), Denilson, Nasri, Eboue, Adebayor, Bendtner (Van Persie 69)WEST BROM: Carson, Hoefkens, Barnett, Meite, Robinson, Brunt (Beattie 80), Morrison, Greening, Kim, Cech (MacDonald 68), Miller (Bednar 74)

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Publication:7 Days (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Date:Aug 17, 2008
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