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Match Preview: Arsenal v West Bromwich Albion; Premier League Match Day 7

The big red wave continues to roll on. This weekend Arsenal take their impressive start to the season on the road (again) to the Hawthorns, where Steve Clarke’s charges are still floating after the historic win over United.

The big red wave continues to roll on. This weekend Arsenal take their impressive start to the season on the road (again) to the Hawthorns, where Steve Clarke’s charges are still floating after the historic win over United.

The two questions that pop immediately to mind are:

  1. Can Arsenal keep doing this?
  2. Can West Brom build on their win over United?

For the first question we keep asking that week over week. The last time it was asked were in the midweek Champion’s League tie when Napoli “our biggest test of the season,” came to the Emirates and were dismantled before the clock hit the 17 minute mark.

With Napoli looking to catch Arsenal on the counter they ceded control of the ball to Arsenal, something that if given enough time and space, Arsenal will gladly accept and as Napoli found out – punish you for it.

Where Arsenal really make you pay for it is in the middle of the pitch. A lot of question marks were raised about Wenger’s overstocking the midfield but it’s a gambit that has given him a wealth talent with which to control a game. It’s hard to put any one player out there in a dedicated position as every player save for Flamini, with his DM role firmly entrenched, are fluid and interchangeable.

Again using the Napoli example, Özil’s goal comes in from his playing the far wide left position with his assist on the Giroud goal from his coming in on the right. To give him a dedicated position is impossible as it is for all of the Arsenal midfielders.

This fluidity gives them the best chance to create chances and find space while the opposition adjusts to defend and track. Certainly as adjustments are made in the course of a match, players like Özil, Ramseym Arteta, Wilshere and others will create space and opportunities for themselves with this constant movement.

If Arsenal can continue this trend of midfield dominance over an opponent there is no reason why the winning ways can’t go on. They are playing with confidence and as each match is played the belief they can keep the run going only builds further. What is the old saying – 90% of sports are mental? Well, if true then Arsenal are doing a better job on the mental stuff then they’ve done in a long while.

It looks like that after years of trial and tribulation Arsene has found the right mix of youth and experience to launch Arsenal on to glory again. And it is a testament to finding that right mix that it is both the youth AND experience that is paying in spades right now.

Pick a name for the Starting XI and their role can be examined as being instrumental on this run. Giroud? Knocking in them with ease. Ramsey? From another freaking planet. Flamini? Who’d have thought that we got the 2008 version back? The point is from every across the pitch contributions are being made and it isn’t one or the other – it’s everyone and for the first time in a long time it’s working.

About West Brom? Based on their win over United, they were the feel good story of the week last week. And while I think they are a side to remain cautious of, I do not feel that this could be the banana peel we are waiting for.

Sure United lost but remember that this is a United side finding it difficult to score – even with Robin Van Persie in the lineup. They still don’t have a goal from open play since the first day of the season. The two goals from West Brom weren’t exactly from being outplayed rather than Rio Ferdinand showing two prime examples why he is in a decline. A Ferdinand in his prime doesn’t make the mistakes that lead to those goals.

It’s not to take anything away from West Brom’s win. They never backed off. But before the goals it had a very draw like feel to it from both sides.

Additionally, with Anichebe facing a late test, the 20-year old game winner Berahino could be the only striking option available to West Brom. And it’s not like they’ve been scoring in huge bunches.

Finally, out of the 3 matches played at the Hawthorns this season, West Brom have only won one. That win was a 3-0 win over the hapless Sunderland squad.

I am always cautious. I know that we can slip up at any moment. It could happen today. But for me this isn’t the one.

Players to Watch:
Arsenal. Mesut Özil. Yeah it’s easy to pick him. But can you blame me? The man is everything and more you could’ve hoped for. And he is still growing into the league. Wow.

West Brom. Morgan Amilfitano. The former Marseille man seems to be finding the Premier League to his liking.

Projected Lineup:

Injuries and Suspensions:
Arsenal:  Diaby (knee),  Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee) Podolski (hamstring) Sagna (hamstring), Walcott (stomach)

West Brom:  Brunt (groin), Vydra, Gera (both hamstring), Thorne (knee), Foster (foot), Sinclair (hamstring), Anichebe (groin – late fitness test), Long (knee  – late fitness test), Anelka (foot – late fitness test)

Last Meeting (EPL):
Arsenal: 2

West Brom: 1

Leading Scorer:
Arsenal: Giroud 4, Ramsey 4

West Brom: Amalfitano  2

Arsenal: Özil 4

West Brom: Amalfitano 1, Brunt 1, Anichebe 1, Mulumbu 1

Last 5:
Arsenal: WWWWW

West Brom: DLDWW

Goals For:
Arsenal (away): 2.7

West Brom (home): 1

Goals Against:
Arsenal (away): 1

West Brom (home) : 1

Goal Differential:
Arsenal: 6

West Brom: 1

Match Official:
Referee: Lee Mason (Matches: 3. R1 Y11)
Assistants: Ledger, Perry
Fourth Official: Moss

Broadcast Information:
US: NBCSN: 11:00 AM

UK: Sky Sports 1: 16.00 GMT

GAMEDAY CHAT (IS BACK!!!!!! – but it’s in BETA)
To participate in our new GameDay chat – click here. We’re still working out some kinks but the framework is there. The rules are simple:

1. Profanity is allowed however, respect for your fellow chatters is a must or you will be banned
2. No sharing of streams

YAMA Prediction:
Arsenal: 3

West Brom: 1

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