WEST BROMWICH ALBION
The Emirates, London
May 4th, 2014; 13:30 BST
Arsenal FC host West Bromwich Albion at the Emirates stadium on Sunday in what will be their last home game of the season. The Gunners have a wonderful opportunity to confirm their place in Champions League next season and all they need to do is to match the result of the match between Everton and Manchester City. But more than that, Arsene Wenger’s men will be hoping put on a show for the fans one last time this season.
The Gunners have found their form of late and are looking back to their best since the return of Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey into the side. They are coming into this match on the back of a four match winning streak in all competitions and are looking to end this season on a high. The Gunners managed a comfortable 3-0 win over Newcastle United in their last match as Laurent Koscielny, Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud got on the score sheet. This means the Gunners have now scored nine goals in their last three league games and have conceded just one in that period.
West Brom are also coming into this game on the back of a good win over West Ham United as Saido Berahino’s goal in the first half proved to be the winner. That ended their seven match winless streak at home and has also virtually secured their safety in the Premier League.
Team news and tactics
The might be drawing towards its end but Arsene Wenger still has to contain with a long injury list ahead of this game. Abou Diaby, Ryo Miyaichi, Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere remain in the long term injury list at the moment. Kieran Gibbs, whose last appearance for the Gunners was in the FA Cup win over Wigan Athletic, has returned to training and is recovering well from his hamstring injury, but Arsene Wenger has revealed that the left back is likely to miss out the match against West Brom and is still a week away from first team action.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who made an appearance from the bench against Hull City, is still struggling with his groin injury and Arsene Wenger has refused to provide a possible return date for the Englishman. There are also doubts regarding the fitness of Serge Gnabry and Thomas Vermaelen and the duo are unlikely to play any part in this game. Bacary Sagna seems to be the latest addition to his injury list and he could miss out against West Brom with a knee injury.
Arsene Wenger is unlikely to make too many changes to the line-up he used in the 3-0 win over Newcastle United. If Bacary Sagna fails to recover in time, Carl Jenkinson will replace him at the right back, while Nacho Monreal keeps his place as the left back. The attack is beginning to jell together once again with the return of Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey into the side, Wenger will hope that his men can carry this new found form into the FA Cup final as well.
Expected starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Szczesny (GK); Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Arteta, Ramsey; Cazorla, Ozil, Podolski; Giroud
West Bromwich Albion
Pepe Mel doesn’t have to contain with an injury list as long as Wenger’s, but he will be missing some key players for this game, which will affect their modest squad. Steven Reid picked up an hip injury in the last game against West Ham United and was replaced by James Morrison at the halfway mark. The 33-year-old will miss this game, although he could recover in time for their next match against Sunderland. Reid joins Zoltan Gera and Liam Ridgewell on the side-lines, who are out with hamstring and knee injury respectively.
Pepe Mel is likely to make three changes to the side he fielded against West Ham United. Gareth McAuley, who missed the last two matches due to a calf injury, is fit and available once again and is expected to replace Craig Dawson at the center of the defence tomorrow. He will resume his partnership with Jonas Olsson, while Billy Jones moves over to the right back role in order to replace the injured Steven Reid. This means that Chris Brunt is likely to drop back in the back four at the left back spot, while James Morrison, who came on as a substitute to replace Steven Reid in the last game, makes his first start since the 0-1 win over Norwich City last month. He will provide support to Stephane Sessegnon and Morgan Amalfitano in attack. Saido Berahino will look to retain his place at the top, ahead of Matej Vydra, after scoring the winner against West Ham.
Expected starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Foster (GK); Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Brunt; Mulumbu, Dorrans; Amalfitano, Sessegnon, Morrison; Berahino
- Arsenal have scored in all 15 previous games against the Baggies in the Barclays Premier League (W10 D3 L2).
- West Brom have drawn four of their five Barclays Premier League games in London this season (L1).
- Arsenal last failed to score in a Premier League game in May back in 2009 (0-0 v Man Utd).
- The Gunners have scored 109 Premier League goals in May, more than any other side.
- Arsenal have scored exactly three goals in each of their last three Premier League games.
Player to watch-out for
Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal)
The 23-year-old has shown the Arsenal fans what their team have been missing since he got injured in December. Aaron Ramsey has been in wonderful form recently and his chemistry with Santi Cazorla and Mesut Ozil has added a different dimension to the attack. His late runs into the box, willingness to run past the front man has provided the Cazorla and Ozil with lot of options, which they were lacking earlier, and has helped in stretching the defence. Only had he been fit, Arsenal could have still been in the title race this season.
Arsenal 2-0 West Bromwich Albion
Arsenal are looking back to their best since the return of Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey into the side and they will like to give their fans something to cheer during the last home game of this season. West Brom will try and keep their shape and make it difficult for the home side, but expect the Gunners to score a goal in each half to win this match comfortably and book their place in the Champions League next season.