Wednesday night’s win against Borussia Dortmund has done a little to quell the bows of disquiet fired at the club from every angle, but came at a human cost for Arsenal with Mikel Arteta and Yaya Sanogo joining an injury list that almost seems mandated to have at least 6 names on it at any one time.
Such is the atmosphere around Arsenal nowadays that draws lead to anger, defeats lead to an air of mutiny and victories are brushed over very quietly. With West Brom, Southampton, Stoke and Newcastle on the immediate horizon, Arsene Wenger will hope for a blissfully peaceful couple of weeks.
The Gunners have failed to really get a run together this season, but the victory over Jurgen Klopp’s side was accomplished and relatively serene. It represented a building block at least, but then Arsenal were in that position a few weeks ago after their victory over Burnley.
For their part, West Brom will look to capitalise on Arsenal’s midweek endeavours in the early Saturday kickoff. Expect a fast start from Alan Irvine’s side as they seek to make hay out of heavy Arsenal legs. The Baggies have won only one of their last seven encounters after three consecutive wins in September had promised to act as a launchpad to their season.
Their form at the Hawthorns has been, much like their season, something of a mixed bag, with 2 victories, 2 draws and 3 defeats, as they have struggled to forge an identity under Irvine.
Arsenal are in need of some monetum but more importantly, some points having lost their last two league matches. With Arteta and Szczesny unavailable, they look as though they might be shorn of some seniority in the spine of the team, which I think may convince Wenger to bring Laurent Koscielny back into the fold, with Olivier Giroud.
Arsene Wenger has expressed his disappointment at Jack Wilshere’s latest injury, but the manager has backed him to bounce back, ”His injury is a consequence of a very bad tackle that was not malicious.’ said the Frenchman.
‘He deals very well with tackles and kicks but nobody would’ve dealt with that tackle. We knew he would have surgery. He’s focused to come back and finish the season well.
‘He’s very down. Jack is a football man. He loves the game. He has learnt to deal with adversity at a very young age.
‘I was more worried one year ago than I am today. If he has no problems with his joints he will make a massive career.’
Baggies boss Alan Irvine has confirmed that Saido Berahino is available for the match, despite being arrested for an alleged drink driving offence during the week.
‘We had a little scare over Berahino earlier in the week because he had a tight hamstring. But he trained on Thursday and trained very well.
‘I had a football chat with him earlier this week – his head is in the right place. He scored a whole load of goals in training and if he plays like that on Saturday I’ll be delighted.
”Arsenal are a very good side. They are exceptional going forward, very creative, they pass and move very well.
‘Anyone who saw their game against Manchester United will know that they could easily have won that game. And they had a good game in midweek against Dortmund.
‘That was a hard midweek game for them but they are used to playing in the Premier League after Champions League games. I suspect they will be ready for the game at the weekend.
‘Jack Wilshere is out for a while which is obviously a big blow for them. But we will face a very good team full of international players, regardless of what injuries they have.’
West Bromwich Albion Team News:
Claudi Yacob begins a three match suspension following his red card against Chelsea. Jonas Olsson is out until January with an achilles injury. Sebastien Pocognoli (thigh) hopes to be available again. James Morrison has been struggling with illness.
West Bromwich Albion (from); Foster, Wisdom, Baird, Lescott, Morrison, Gardner, Ideye, Anichebe, Brunt, Myhill, Davidson, Pocognoli, Gamboa, Dorrans, O’Neil, Mulumbu, McAuley, Dawson, Varela, Blanco, Sessegnon, Samaras.
Player to watch: Stephan Sessegnon
Sessegnon represents West Brom’s ‘x factor.’ A player that can create something from nothing. The Baggies will play predominantly on the break you feel and Sessegnon’s pace and guile will be key to this.
Arsenal Team News:
Arsenal are without Mikel Arteta (calf) and Yaya Sanogo (hamstring), whilst Danny Welbeck (knee) and Wojciech Szczesny (hip) face late fitness tests.
Jack Wilshere (ankle) will be out for around three months following surgery. Mathieu Debuchy (ankle), Mesut Ozil (ankle), David Ospina (thigh), Theo Walcott (groin) are out. Olivier Giroud returns.
Arsenal (from); Szczesny, Gibbs, Mertesacker (c), Koscielny, Rosicky, Podolski, Giroud, Chamberlain, Ramsey, Alexis, Monreal, S.Cazorla, Flamini, Chambers, Welbeck, Martinez, Campbell, Bellerin, Macey.
Player to watch: Olivier Giroud
I wrote a little something here on the competition between Welbeck and Giroud for the centre forward spot. With Welbeck struggling and Sanogo injured, it is likely Giroud will start against West Brom.
Giroud will be keen to earn his stripes and become the de facto centre forward for Arsenal, with Welbeck not emphatically convincing that he is a superior option.
One man pleased to see his devilishly handsome teammate will be Aaron Ramsey. The Welshman put in a much improved performance against Dortmund on Wednesday. Ramsey hasn’t scored since Giroud’s injury and with Wilshere now injured, Ramsey’s eyes may now be lighting up.
Match Facts & Stats
The all-time Premier League record between the two sides reads; Arsenal 11 wins, West Brom two wins and three draws, with the Gunners outscoring Albion 34-17 in the 16 meetings.
West Brom have won 0 of the last 7 Premier League meetings with Arsenal (W0 D2 L5).
All of Arsenal`s Premier League wins this season have come against teams currently 14th or lower in the table. West Brom are 13th.
Arsenal have lost on just one of their last 21 visits to the Hawthorns, in October 2005.
?The Gunners have never failed to score in 11 league and cup trips to The Hawthorns under Arsene Wenger.
West Brom are without a league goal in 223 minutes since they profited from an own goal against Leicester. It’s 270 minutes since a Baggies player found the net.
Only Everton (12) have conceded more goals at home than Albion’s 10. They have conceded at least two goals at The Hawthorns in each of their last three games.
Arsenal are in danger of losing three successive Premier League games for the first time since January 2012.
Chris Foy oversees this one.
I am going for a 2-0 Arsenal win with goals from Giroud and Chamberlain.
Arsenal are at home to Southampton at 7.45pm on Wednesday. West Brom play at home to West Ham on Tuesday evening.