The win against Dortmund, as positive and important as it was, now needs to be put in the backseat. More pressing issues need to be taken care of, in the Premier League, with the Gunners languishing at 8th in the table, level on points with Everton and Sp*rs, and behind the likes of West Ham, Swansea and Newcastle.
The Hawthorns has one of the best away ground in recent years, and the Gunners have picked up vital wins there, none more so important than the final day 3-2 win in 2012, when Laurent Koscielny scored the decisive goal in the 55th minute. Gibbs made a very precious multimillion dollar last ditch tackle, late on in the game, which bought about a cuddly hug from Arsene Wenger to Pat Rice, which also turned out to be the last game for the long-serving Irishman.
It is that kind of steel that the Gunners require today. More substance over style. Wins are all that count from now on. It’s been a story this season to go on and dominate games entirely, yet not make the most of them. Games against Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United are indicative of that. Arsenal managed to keep their opponents under caution for large majorities, yet failed to take the chances when they came, conceded silly goals on the counter instead, and then huffed and puffed till the final whistle.
The refreshing thing about the Dortmund result, was the willingness of the team to learn from those mistakes. The pressing looked better, and so did the defence look more composed. Attack minded full backs like Chambers and Gibbs maintained their stances against a Dortmund side that could have inflicted damage on counters. Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey helped shore up several times.
The Premier League is a completely different ball game though, and pressing always doesn’t suit the purpose against more physical sides, who like playing the long ball, given Arsenal’s obvious discomfort at defending them. West Brom have a host of strikers who can cause the Arsenal defence problems with their physicality. Greek striker Giorgios Samaras, Nigerian duo Victor Anichebe and Brown Ideye and the pacy Saido Berahino. The Baggies, have been struggling for form this season, winning only 3 of their 12 games, losing 5 and drawing 4. £10m signing Brown Ideye has failed to impress, but Saido Berahino is a man in form, even earning an England call up for his form.
Right, team news then. Wojciech Szczesny is still out, meaning Emiliano Martinez keeps his place in goal. Laurent Koscielny returns to centre-back. Mikel Arteta’s and Jack Wilshere’s injuries mean Arsenal are thinning out in midfield, and Mathieu Flamini will start in central midfield alongside Aaron Ramsey. Olivier Giroud, should make the starting line up too, with Danny Welbeck and Yaya Sanogo nursing knocks.
Berahino is available for the Baggies, despite recent drunk driving allegations. James Morrison is a major doubt for the Baggies though as he is struggling to recover from a sickness bug. Sebastien Pocognoli (hamstring) is a minor doubt and Jonas Olsson (Achilles) is out. Claudio Yacob starts a three-game ban after he was sent off at Stamford Bridge.
Here is how I expect the teams to line up.
Jai Arsenal 🙂
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