After another highly frustrating nil-nil home draw on Saturday, nothing less than a win was required at West Brom on Tuesday night and, thanks to two goals from Nicklas Bendtner and one from Kolo Toure, a win was what Arsenal got.
It is a victory that heaps pressure onto Aston Villa ahead of their fixture at Manchester City on Wednesday night and was just what the doctor ordered after four successive goalless draws in the Premier League.
Last Saturday, Fulham came to Ashburton Grove and gave the Gunners a really stiff examination. On balance, the visitors were arguably the better team over the ninety minutes. That said, Arsenal had chances to win the match but, such has been the recent lack of belief in front of goal, a decisive strike never really looked like coming.
This performance was even worse than the one the home supporters had to endure against Sunderland the previous Saturday and it was not really much of a surprise to hear a chorus of boos ring around the stadium at the final whistle.
On Saturday evening, any chances the Gunners had of finishing in the top four seemed to be hanging by a thread. The thread wore down to mere fibres on Sunday afternoon as Aston Villa looked to be easing towards a two-nil victory over Stoke with only two minutes remaining at Villa Park. Then, miraculously, the Potters scored twice before the final whistle to draw the match and what had looked like a certain three points for the Villains was suddenly cut to one.
Arsenal had been thrown a very unlikely lifeline. Instead of being eight points behind Villa they were now only six and with the Midlands team facing a tricky run of fixtures over the next few weeks, including away trips to Man Utd and Liverpool, suddenly a glimmer of hope appeared for Arsenal.
Stoke's late-show on Sunday would only have been any use to Arsenal if they could beat bottom club West Brom at the Hawthorns on Tuesday. They got off to a fabulous start when Nicklas Bendtner cut in from the right and hit a bobbling shot through the crowded defence into the far corner of the net. The lead was surrendered only a few moments later when some poor Arsenal defending at a freekick allowed the Baggies an equaliser.
A healthy advantage was restored before the break when, first, a completely unmarked Kolo Toure got on the end of an Andrey Arshavin freekick to head the Gunners back into the lead and, then, Bendtner then made it 3-1 going into the break when he beat a quite hopeless West Brom offside trap and, clean through, fired home a fierce shot from the right-hand side of the penalty area.
The second half was more sedate in pace but Bendtner proved to be Arsenal's man of the match by providing Arshavin with two excellent openings that the Russian was unable to finish. The big Dane also hit the post, depriving him of what would have been a well-earned hat-trick. It was a great evening for him. He has his critics amongst the Arsenal crowd even though there are many more candidates in this current squad far more deserving of a hard time from supporters. Tonight though, he answered many of the naysayers and the travelling Arsenal support sang his name throughout the second half.
Nicklas Bendtner is a young player who is not short of self-belief and it is unlikely that he is remotely bothered by those members of the Ashburton Grove crowd that slate his every error. Though even he must have been pleased to have taken the opportunity, not only to inspire a vital Arsenal win, but also to shut a few of his detractors up.
The fact is that he is a very young player who is still learning the game and he has to learn those lessons in an Arsenal team which has struggled by its own high standards this season. Despite that, Bendtner has shown enough good play and scored enough goals to be deserving of the crowd's patience. He can occasionally look ungainly and, like every other player, he does make mistakes but it is very clear that he is a hugely talented footballer who will develop further over the next few seasons if he continues to get chances in the first-team.
The Gunners take a break from the Premier League and get back to business in the FA Cup this weekend as they take on Burnley in the delayed Fifth Round tie. With a home tie against Hull City awaiting the victor in the next round, both teams know what their reward for winning will be. If that wasn't incentive enough, exacting some revenge for exiting the Carling Cup at the hands of Burnley ought to be sufficient motivation for Arsenal.
This competition represents the Gunners best chance of silverware this season. So it is absolutely vital that they approach the game with the right attitude because one can be sure the visitors will be trying for their lives to achieve an unlikely Cup double.