The Emirates, North London
November 5, 2011; 2011; 20:30 Hours IST
The little matter of a ai???revengeai??i?? hovers carelessly over The Emirates green as The Baggies come down to North London to spoil the home teamai??i??s consistent run, just like they did last time around. A 2-3 defeat at the hands of West Brom was a prominent scar in the previous season and the Gunners will hope they donai??i??t replicate the performance of that evening at the Emirates. Both the teams are on a decent run in the league, Arsenal being the better of the two, having lost just one game in their last nine while The Baggies, with a surprisingly better away form, have lost once in their last five games. On paper, it looks like a typical Gunners win, but this can be a top contender for ai???one of those gamesai??i?? for the home team, which often ruins their title hopes every season. With the presence of the most in-form striker in Europe, Arsenal should, ideally, seal the deal and get close to the Top Boys in the league, exactly where they belong.
Team News and Tactical Brief
After a midweek stale-mate at home against a resolute French side, Arsenal will look to score some goals over the weekend. Arsene Wenger had rested his top man for that game, but the Dutchman is sure to start this one, as it is too much of a temptation to resist playing him every game. On the defensive side of things, the Gunners kept a decent clean sheet with the brand new center-back pairing of Per Mertesacker and Thomas Vermaelen. It was a game in which Arsene wanted to get a first-hand look at how the two perform with each other. According to the Belgian, he is ready to play with any center-back, citing that training with the same players every day is good enough to develop a decent understanding. If the team is picked on current form, Koscielny is certain to retain his place in the side; while Mertesacker and Santos looked shaky at Stamford Bridge, it was the Frenchman who looked as assured as ever. Vermaelen automatically picks himself based on the fact that he brings in the ‘extra steel’ into the team. Jenkinson’s quick return back from injury has been a blessing for Arsenal, for a 19 year old; he looks a very confident boy, sure to improve over the years as Bacary’s understudy. Santos is still a bit dodgy with his defensive side of the game, getting adapted to the “fast game” at England; he is fantastic going forward though, having already scored two goals for the team, the same number Clichy had scored in his entire career at Arsenal.
In the midfield, Arsene will retain the trio of Song-Arteta-Ramsey as they are working towards a very good chemistry. Alex Song has been aAi??beastAi??in the middle of the park, Arteta has been theAi??machine, while Ramsey has been theAi??architectAi??behind many good moments for Arsenal this season. The mighty experience of Thomas Rosicky and Yossi Benayoun is available to Arsene if he needs to use them for Arteta and Ramsey. As of now, Alex Song is almostAi??irreplaceableAi??in the side, his name being the first entry into the line-up every weekend. As far as the wingers are concerned, Gervinho has been in terrific form, also developing a very decent understanding with van Persie. The issue with Theo Walcott and Andrei Arshavin is that they have been consistently inconsistent over the 90 mins of a game. Both have been very goodAi??impact subsAi??but have failed to live up to their potential from the start of a game. The Englishman, primarily because of his raw pace, will pick himself ahead of the crafty Russian. Finally, Robin van Persie, the heart of the team, will lead the line.
Possible Starting Line-Up (4-2-3-1): Szczesny; Jenkinson, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Santos; Song, Arteta; Ramsey, Theo, Gervinho; van Persie
West Bromwich Albion
After a poor start to the campaign, the Baggies have built some confidence over the last few weeks, picking up important wins, even a very credible one down the road at Villa Park. There was a little dent in that confidence when they traveled to Anfield a few days back, failing to win against Suarez and his troops. The fixture list has been a little cruel to them so far, this being their third consecutive away game, and they are still placed at 13 in the league table. While the home team are a bit worried about their defense, they can find peace in the fact that West Brom has been poor offensively, having managed to score just nine in the ten games of this season. It remains to be seen if they can change their luck at Arsenal where they scored three last season or the Gunners get too tight at the back to maintain a much-needed clean sheet.
As far as team news go, the defensive pairing of Olsson and McAuley will have their task cut out, having to deal with the might of Robin van Persie. The wide men, Reid and Jones, won’t have it easy either, Gervinho and Theo Walcott will run at them all day long. The West Brom midfield will be packed with five players, though Jerome Thomas, will be ahead of the bunch on the left side of the field. James Morrison will ply his trade on the right side, giving company to Mulumbu, Dorrans and Chris Brunt. A decent goal-threat – Odemwingie – will play up-front and will look to the end the goals-misery of the traveling party.
Possible Starting Line-Up (4-5-1) : Foster; Reid, Olsson, McAuley, Jones; Morrison, Mulumbu, Dorrans, Brunt, Thomas; Odemwingie
- Robin van Persie is only behind Cristiano Ronaldo in Goals/Game ratio this calendar year with 1.04.
- Arsenal have lost once in the last ten while West Brom have lost once in the last five.
- West Brom didn’t lose to Arsenal last season.
TheHardTackle’s PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR
Robin van Persie (Arsenal)
It has become very difficult to pick someone else as the ‘Player to Watch Out For‘ if van Persie is among those players, especially with him being the European Player of the Month. He has been in top goal-scoring form in this calendar year, only behind the sensational Cristiano Ronaldo as far as success-rate is concerned. Arsenal will look up to their top man to deliver yet again, but it will be very handy if somebody else steps up and takes responsibility.
Arsenal 3 – 0 West Brom
Looking at current form, it looks very unlikely that Arsenal will miss grabbing the three points on offer and touch shoulders with the top teams in the league. West Brom, away from home, will find it tough against the defensive unit of Alex Song, Vermaelen and Koscielny. Arsenal to win it 3-0, with van Persie, Ramsey and Theo on the score-sheet.