It’s Matchday 6 for the Arsenal and it sees us start a hell of week with them playing Monday, Thursday, and Sunday. That unfortunately, is the nature of this new Europa League world we live in and we’ll just have to get on with it.
With regard to the league, the match against West Brom begins a run of 5 matches where Arsenal can make serious head against the title chasers. During this spell of 5, Arsenal face off against none of the top sides within the league, whilst the top sides all square off against the other top 6 sides.
The likelihood is that the others will drop points, but can Arsenal look at this opportunity and seize it? That remains the biggest question with this Arsenal side.
In the nil-nil draw versus Chelsea, we saw a resolute and focused Arsenal side. They not only combined a determined defensive effort, they created enough opportunities that the match, away at Stamford Bridge, was there for them to take. It was a sign that when the players are focused on the task at hand, they can without a doubt challenge top sides in the league.
The problem becomes against the lesser sides where they have built a poor habit of under-estimating opponents and not showing up or showing up when it is too late.
Arsenal need to find whatever reservoir they dipped into last week and use that for this match. West Brom are well coached and started off brightly only to see there start stutter with 2D and a loss from their last 3 matches.
We’re left wondering if the performance against Chelsea was the start of a positive turn for Arsenal and this is the match to show it. What Wenger does with the team and how the team performs on the pitch are the biggest questions that remain. Last week they got it perfect, but evidence would suggest that this is the exception not the norm.
Against West Brom we’ve been pretty solid at home. The baggies have lost on their last 5 visits to the Emirates but their 3-1 win against Arsenal at the Hawthornes is widely seen as the final nail in the decline of Arsenal last season. So they are a team not to be underestimated.
Arsene is faced with the choice of whether or not to start Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Özil in this side together. Last week, the side looked more balanced without either player featuring. However, I would suspect you could replace Özil for Iwobi and not miss much in terms of output.
I could see a case where Alexis is still kept out. Wenger is stating the rationale is based on easing Sanchez back to fitness, I think its more than that but that is for another time. Still, with Danny out for at least a month, a full recall for Sanchez seems likely.
Trends to Watch
The resolute nature of Arsenal’s performance against Chelsea was beautiful. I don’t know any other way to put it. But, as we’ve mentioned it’s more exception than the norm. Can we reverse that trend and establish rhythm that helps get max points out of the next few fixtures. If Arsenal can do that against a well-coached West Brom then the platform is there to move on. Don’t do it and well, we’ve been there before and there is no need to rehash it.
How the Match Should Play Out:
It used to be easy to predict how Arsenal would play. Loads of possession, a few moments of magic and an inability to break down stubborn sides. Now, even that consistency is gone. However, Arsenal are at home against a side they’ve beaten comfortably here before. Pulis will look to play counter-attack football. Arsenal need to use their attacking impetus to get ahead of West Brom early. If Arsenal can nab an early goal and continue to put pressure on West Brom, hopefully they will come out of their shell and create space for Arsenal to operate and take advantage of.
Players to Watch:
Arsenal. Alexandre Lacazette. It’s been a stutter start to his Arsenal career. There are the moments you see why he was signed and then you see the moments where you know it will take time for him to acclimate to the league. Let’s hope that imbalance of performances doesn’t last too long.
Injuries and Suspensions:
Arsenal: Chambers (hip), Coquelin (hamstring), Welbeck (groin), Cazorla (achilles)
West Brom: Brunt (calf), Burke (hamstring), Chadli (thigh)
West Brom: WWDLD
Goals Scored Per Game:
West Brom: .8
Goals Conceded Per Game:
West Brom: .8
Referee: Bobby Madley (3M 13Y 2R)
Assistants: Lee Betts, Marc Perry
Fourth official: Stuart Attwell
UK: Sky Sports 20.00 GMT
US: NBC Sports Network 3:00PM EST
What the Manager Says: (Courtesy BBC)
“West Brom have the culture of the Premier League, a manager who knows how the league works. They are very strong on set-pieces, solid defensively – it’s tough to score against them.”
Match Facts: (Courtesy BBC)
- Arsenal have a 100% record at home this season, winning both their Premier League matches at the Emirates and also a Europa League game and EFL Cup tie.
- However, the Gunners have lost two of their five Premier League games this season – only twice previously have they lost three of their opening six fixtures.
- Arsenal have won seven successive Premier League games at the Emirates Stadium, their best run there since a nine-match winning streak between December 2014 and April 2015.
- Alexandre Lacazette could become the first Arsenal player to score in his opening three league appearances at home since Brian Marwood in September 1988.
- Alexis Sanchez has started 99 Premier League matches. Gilberto Silva is the only South American to reach a century of Premier League starts for Arsenal.
- Arsenal have won six successive home matches against West Brom in the Premier League, conceding just one goal.
- Albion’s only Premier League win away at Arsenal was 3-2 in September 2010.
- However, West Brom did beat the Gunners 3-1 at The Hawthorns when the clubs last met in March.
Arsenal 2 – 1 West Brom