Arsenal travel to West Brom where a win would immensely improve their top four hopes while adding more misery to their struggling hosts.
West Brom are second from bottom in the Premier League table, and a victory for Arsenal on Sunday will make matters worse for the Hawthorns heading into the new year. Arsenal, on the other hand, know the importance of a win and its impact in the top four race as the Gunners sit in sixth.
Currently, within a point of a top-four place, the goals have begun to flow for Arsenal, as the recent games against Liverpool and Crystal Palace showed, but defence remains a big problem. The game against West Brom would also be Arsene Wenger’s 811th Premier League game in charge as he will move past Sir Alex Ferguson’s mark.
West Brom are winless in 18 Premier League games now, as Alan Pardew would be hoping a win against Arsenal will add to the confidence of a side currently languishing in the relegation zone and boost their chances of survival in the second half of the campaign.
Team news and tactics
West Brom will host Arsenal while missing three players in Solomon Rondon, Phil Bardsley and long-term absentee Nacer Chadli through injuries. Despite a winless run stretching to 18 games now, West Brom has shown some strength in character in the last few games, since Alan Pardew has taken over.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Foster; Dawson, Hegazi, Evans, Gibbs; Phillips, Livermore, Barry, Brunt; Rodriguez, Robson-Kanu
Arsenal continue to impress in patches and know a win at West Brom would immensely improve their quest for a top-four spot. After Skhodran Mustafi’s injury against Manchester United, Arsenal momentarily shifted to a four-man defence with mixed results, although in the last game against Crystal Palace they moved back to a five-man defence, which they are expected to retain.
The Gunners will be without the key trio of Aaron Ramsey, Nacho Monreal and Olivier Giroud owing to injuries suffered in recent weeks, while attacking trio of Sanchez, Lacazette and Ozil are expected to start against the Hawthorns.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Cech; Holding, Mustafi, Koscielny; Bellerin, Wilshere, Xhaka, Kolasinac; Sanchez, Ozil; Lacazette
1. The Baggies have won their last two home league games against Arsenal, as many as they had in their previous 23 against them at The Hawthorns.
2. Arsenal has scored in all 23 of their Premier League games against West Bromwich Albion, the best such 100 per cent record in the division.
3. This will be Arsene Wenger’s 811th Premier League game in charge – the most of any manager in the competition. He will overtake Sir Alex Ferguson, whose 810th and final game in the Premier League came against West Brom at The Hawthorns (5-5)
4. After an unbeaten three-game start in the Premier League against Arsenal (W2 D1 L0), Alan Pardew has failed to win any of his following 12 against them (W0 D3 L9)
Player to watch
After 25 league goals last season, Alexis Sanchez’s form has been inconsistent this season. A double against Crystal Palace will have silenced the doubters temporarily, and Arsene Wenger would be hoping his star man to hit top form in the second half of the season.
Sanchez’s contract situation casts doubt on his future at Arsenal, with bids expected from major clubs in the January window, Sanchez nevertheless still represents a key figure in the Arsenal team aiming to get back into champions league places.
West Brom 1- 3 Arsenal
Arsenal have the attacking quality on their side to comfortably win against a struggling West Brom side. With Mesut Ozil in inspirational form of late and the recent showing of Sanchez against Crystal Palace should see the gunners through at the Hawthorns, as well as the ever-looming threat of Alexander Lacazette in front of goal.
West Brom, owing to their recent slump in form and with key players missing will find it difficult against the Gunners on Sunday.