West Bromwich Albion is the next hurdle on the Gunners’ road to the title. The two teams last met eleven days ago in the Capitol One Cup. That match was won by Arsenal after a penalty shoot-out.
Arsenal heads into this weekend’s Premier League fixtures as the leader of the pack and fresh from securing their 10th straight win in all competitions after a victory over Napoli on Tuesday.
But West Brom will be a difficult opponent to get past. Steve Clarke’s men managed to defeat the defending champions Manchester United at Old Trafford last weekend. And they are hoping they can mastermind another good win by ending Arsenal’s winning streak.
Arsenal’s manager Arsène Wenger says he warned his players to prepare for a massive test. The Frenchman stated: “West Brom represents a good test for us. They are on the back of an outstanding result at Manchester United. Their confidence levels are high and it will be a very interesting test.”
Mesut Ozil, missing piece of the puzzle
Playmaker Mesut Ozil continues to impress wearing the Arsenal jersey. The midfielder was Wenger’s answer to fans demanding that the club would spend some money in the last transfer window.
Arsenal has smashed their transfer record by paying around 42 million pound for the German international. But it has proved to be a great buy!
After the win against Napoli in the Champions League striker Olivier Giroud praised his new teammate, saying: “Mesut was incredible. We’re getting along great and it is real nice to have him on my team. He was the player we needed to really improve.”
If West Brom can manage to eliminate the treat that is Mesut Ozil their afternoon will become a lot easier.
One player West Brom won’t have to worry about is Bacary Sagna. The right-back is suffering from a hamstring injury that will keep him sidelined for three weeks. Theo Walcott, Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are also certain absentees. Whether Santi Cazorla can play remains to be seen.
West Bromwich Albion looking for three in a row
The last two matches West Brom played were won. Before beating Manchester United last weekend, they had set aside Sunderland with 3-0. These wins were needed after a slow start to the campaign and place West Brom at the 10th spot in the Premier League.
On-loan winger Scott Sinclair will not be able to help his team get a third victory in a row. The Englishman picked up a hamstring injury in the match against United.
The man who replaced Sinclair in that game, Saido Berahino, ended up scoring the winning goal in the famous win. I expect he will start against Arsenal.
Nicolas Anelka and Chris Brunt both resumed training this week after foot and groin injuries respectively, but I believe manager Steve Clarke will play with the team that won at United.
West Bromwich Albion
As I stated above, I think West Brom boss Steve Clarke will start with the same squad that went to beat United.
Meaning Myhill will start in the goal. The defense from left to right will be: Ridgewell, McAuley, Olsson and Jones.
The defensive block on the midfield will be compiled of Argentinian Yacob and Congolese Mulumbu.
In front of the duo will be three creative minded players. Amalfitano will play the right-side and Sessegnon is fit enough to start as central attacking midfielder. And with Sinclair being injured, Berahino will begin on the left.
Rounding up the team is striker Anichebe.
Lineup: Myhill - Ridgewell, McAuley, Olsson, Jones – Yacob, Mulumbu, Amalfitano, Sessegnon, Berahino – Anichebe.
Like Steve Clarke, Arsène Wenger probably won’t alter his lineup much compared their last game.
In the goal Szczesny will start again. He will be accompanied by a defense consisting of Gibbs, Koscielny, Mertesacker and Jenkinson, who replaces Sagna.
Against Napoli, Wenger chose to partner Arteta with Flamini on the midfield. This worked out well and I see him doing the same against West Brom.
Ramsey, Ozil and Wilshere will start at the offensive side of the midfield. Wilshere will replace Rosicky in the lineup. The Czech international is returning from an injury and Arsene Wenger is unlikely to many risks with him at the moment.
French striker Giroud will start at the ‘’9’’ and will be looking to make some goals.
I could take the easy route and predict a win for Arsenal but stubborn as I am, I won’t. The Gunners have had a magnificent run but it has to end some day. West Brom are high on confidence after beating United and I see that carrying on this game. Therefor I predict a draw.
My prediction: West Bromwich Albion 2 – 2 Arsenal.