LIVE from The Emirates, North London
15:00 hrs GMT, 08-12-12
Arsenal will entertain the high-flying Baggies this Saturday at The Emirates knowing very well that this would probably be the first time in the Premier League era wherein the home side would start the game as underdogs.
The Gunners have won only one game in the last six, they sit at tenth place in the league, their worst start to a Premier League season under Arsene Wenger. The players are aware of the loss in form and have been talking about ‘being wiser‘ on the pitch to bring in positive results. With so much quality in the side, Arsenal are quite capable of turning the table this season – and this should be the right time to start the turnaround.
West Brom have had a fantastic season so far, though they have lost their last two games, they still sit peacefully at the top of the league, five places ahead of Arsenal. West Brom, who have only won the league in 1920, have set their sights on some silverware this season with new manager Steve Clark having done a fabulous job so far. The Chelsea legend have been part of many top clubs – Newcastle, Chelsea, West Ham and Liverpool before getting his big ticket to the Premiership management in West Brom. The manager had announced his arrival on the first day of the season as his team triumphed over Liverpool 3-0.
With too much distraction in the form of contract talks and a possible January Transfer Window work, Arsene needs to make his concentrate on winning games. Now that the Champions League football is out of sight for two months, the Gunners can channelize all their energies into league football, where they have a lot of work to do.
Lukas Podolski and Theo Walcott are out with injuries, which means two of Gervinho, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Arshavin will give Olivier Giroud company at the top of the field. Gervinho and the young Englishman had started the midweek game and didn’t look dangerous at all, they might want to put some criticism to bed by raising their game. Giroud, who has contributed in all possible ways this season, is a welcome addition back to the team, after the Gooners watched a hapless Marouane Chamakh lead the line in midweek.
At the middle of the park, where Arsenal need to counter the in-form West Brom midfield, Jack Wilshere will accompany Mikel Arteta and Santi Cazorla, the two Spaniards. With Arsenal missing a bit of a cutting edge, it is time for the Englishman to force the issue in the final third. With Cazorla being ‘crowded’ in most of the games, opponents obviously being aware of his threat, it is upto Jack and others to take up some added responsibility in the creative department.
With talks of Sagna leaving the Gunners at the end of this season, it is time for Wenger to sit down and sort out another very important contract – many believe ‘letting big players go’ has been the most distressing thing for Arsenal over the past few seasons. With Frenchman out with an injury, a very capable Jenkinson will continue to deputy at Right Back. Mertesacker, the best player for Arsenal so far this season, will give his captain Vermaelen company at the back, the Belgian looking a better player in recent games. Gibbs will continue to drive down the Left Flank and give some service to the men up front.
The Gunners need to start playing more attacking football with quick passes, they need to drive into the heart of their opponents if they want to change the situation at the club now.
West Brom have won four out of the last six games they have played, having lost to Stoke City in their last game. It has been a tactically pleasant season for the Baggies with their new manager. They, along with Swansea, have been a revelation this season. In November the club won four consecutive matches in a row for the first time since 1980, defeating Southampton, Wigan, Chelsea and Sunderland respectively. Since then there has been a small slump in form, but the side is still dangerous enough to give the Gunners a lot to worry about at North London.
Top player Shane Long, who has scored five this season so far is the biggest threat for the Gunners. His alertness and sheer willingness to score goals makes it very interesting at the top, he will partner Chelsea loanee Lukaku, though there are chances he might as well start from the bench. Zoltan Gera, the former Fulham man, along with Peter Odemwingie, are the attacking threats alongside the strikers. Gera, who had a decent spell at West Brom before his Fulham days, is a player capable of changing things during the course of the game.
In the middle of the park, Claudio Yacob, the new signing, will give Youssuf Mulumbu company. Yacob, who is more of a defensive minded midfield man, will sit in front of the defence, but is well capable of starting an attack from the back. Mulumbu is more of a connect between the attack and defence.
“At the back, West Brom’s defenders aren’t amongst the Premier League’s most celebrated players, but have formed a solid backline and are protected excellently by the midfield. Jonas Olsson is a towering presence but Gareth McAuley wins more aerial duels.”
~ Courtesy – Arsenal.Com Scouting Report
Probable Starting Lineup (4-4-2): Myhill(GK); Reid, Olsson, Popov, McAuley; Yacob, Odemwingie, Mulumbu, Gera; Morrison, Long
- Chelsea, Spurs and West Brom are on same points at the top of the table behind the Manchester clubs, only separated by goal difference.
- The Baggies have never kept a clean sheet in their 12 Premier League games against Arsenal, conceding 28 goals in total.
- Arsenal have won just three of their last 10 Premier League home games.
- Santi Cazorla has provided only one assist in his last 11 Premier League appearances.
Player(s) To Watch Out For
Tomas Rosicky (Arsenal)
Though Rosicky is most likely to start from the bench, the return of the former Czech captain is a huge bonus for the club. Rosicky is the type of player who can drive the team when they are down or are incapable of penetration. He is a dynamic midfielder capable of changing the game’s momentum.
Shane Long (West Brom)
Long has scored 7 in 16 appearances for the Baggies, and doesn’t look like stopping any soon. He has been phenomenal in front of goal, and is easily the biggest threat for the Gunners. Attacking mostly from the right hand side, Long will keep Gibbs and Vermaelen busy all day long.
Arsenal 4 – 2 West Brom
It looks like a game with lot of goals, with both teams capable of quick counter-attacks. Both the teams have leaked in quite a number of goals this season, and rely mostly on their attackers to win them games, this one won’t be any different.
Blast From The Past