Arsenal - West Brom Preview: Wenger's side seek first win in five matches
The Gunners have taken just six points from their last six matches in all competitions, but face a Baggies side also in need of a win after suffering two straight defeats
By Alfie Meekings
Jenkinson, Vermaelen, Mertesacker, Gibbs
Rosicky, Arteta, Wilshere
Oxlade-Chamberlain, Giroud, Cazorla
Reid, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell
Odemwingie, Morrison, Gera
Arsene Wenger rested a number of key players during Arsenal’s 2-1 defeat at the hands of Olympiakos on Tuesday, but the Frenchman has revealed that both Lukas Podolski (hamstring) and Theo Walcott (calf) missed out through injury and will not return in time to face the Baggies.
Bacary Sagna (foot), Laurent Koscielny (thigh) and Andre Santos (abdominal) will all miss the clash, as will long-term absentee Abou Diaby (thigh), who is not expected to return until the end of December.
There is some good news for the hosts, however, as Tomas Rosicky - who had a fine game in Greece midweek - has returned to fitness and should feature in the starting line-up.
Steve Clarke told reporters last week that Ben Foster could face further surgery on his groin, in which case he could face another 10 days out of action. But, Billy Jones and Boaz Myhill are both set to return to fitness after suffering from a bug that spread through the players during the week.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
Arsenal are without a win in their last four matches in all competitions.
- The Gunners have taken just six points from their last six matches.
- Mikel Arteta (pictured, right) has the best pass success rate in the Premier League, with an average of 93% of his passes reaching their target.
- The hosts currently boast the highest rate of possession in the top-flight, averaging 59.9% per game.
- West Brom have won two of their last three away from home. The Baggies are 18/1 to beat Arsenal 1-0 with bet365.
- However, the Baggies have beaten Arsenal just once in their last nine attempts.
- The vistors have benefitted this season from a variety a goal threats, as Shane Long and Romelu Lukaku have both netted five, Peter Odemwingie four and James Morrison three.
- On average, the visitors cross the ball just 18 times in each game - less than any other side in the league.
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Top 3 Predictions
Arsenal FC 2-0 West Bromwich Albion
- 14.07 %
Arsenal FC 2-1 West Bromwich Albion
- 12.2 %
Arsenal FC 3-1 West Bromwich Albion
- 11.66 %
|Premier League (EPL)||6 Oct 2013||West Bromwich Albion 1 - Arsenal FC 1|
|Capital One Cup (CCUP)||25 Sep 2013||West Bromwich Albion 1 - Arsenal FC 1|
|Premier League (EPL)||6 Apr 2013||West Bromwich Albion 1 - Arsenal FC 2|
|Premier League (EPL)||8 Dec 2012||Arsenal FC 2 - West Bromwich Albion 0|
|Premier League (EPL)||13 May 2012||West Bromwich Albion 2 - Arsenal FC 3|
|11 Dec 2013||Napoli 2 - Arsenal FC 0||UCL|
|8 Dec 2013||Arsenal FC 1 - Everton 1||EPL|
|4 Dec 2013||Arsenal FC 2 - Hull City 0||EPL|
|30 Nov 2013||Cardiff 0 - Arsenal FC 3||EPL|
|26 Nov 2013||Arsenal FC 2 - Olympique de Marseille 0||UCL|
|30||Sebastien Gabriel Tamaş||Defender|
Santi Cazorla is the name on everybody’s lips when it comes to Arsenal this season. He has played more successful through balls per game than any other player in the Premier League, and with four goals and three assists to his name so far this campaign it is clear to see that he is adapting well to life in north London. The defensive midfield duo of Yacob and Mulumbu will have their work cut out attempting to stifle the Gunners’ creative players, but if they are to be successful it is vital that this man is at the top of their hit list.
Shane Long has been in explosive form for West Brom this season, drawing the attention of a number of top clubs – most notably Liverpool. And while Steve Clarke insists that the Irishman will not be leaving in January, it is easy to see why the 25-year-old is attracting interest. He has scored seven and laid on four for his team-mates in just 16 appearances for the Baggies this season, and he will certainly be looking to add to that today. He will try to use his pace to exploit the Gunners’ back line, and with Mertesacker’s lack of pace it will be vital that Vermaelen stays tight to Long throughout Saturday’s encounter.
There is no doubt that Arsenal are underperforming this season, currently lying 10th in the Premier League and in danger of slipping further down the table. West Brom have far exceeded expectations until now, although Steve Clarke’s men will be keen to prove that their current run of two straight losses is just a blip in an otherwise remarkable season. While both are looking to steal all three points, it could be that they only manage to cancel one another out.