Arsenal hosts West Bromich Albion at the Emirates tonight in a crucial Week 6 Premier League match. The Gunners are left with no other choice than to win seeing that all other title contenders won their matches over the weekend.
West Brom are as tough as any top Premier League team. Well organized, compact and aggressive; they are a formidable opposition to on their day.
Last season, it was Tony Pulis West Brom that first exposed Arsenal by a comprehensive 3-1 defeat at the Hawthorns. Arsenal never recovered from that devastating defeat as they eventually failed to qualify for the Champions League.
Fortunately for Wenger, the reverse has always been the case at the Emirates. The Baggies haven’t taken any point from Arsenal in six visits to London.
The French would be hoping the run continues tonight to keep in touch with the two Manchester clubs and London rival, Chelsea.
Mesut Özil is in contention to return to the Arsenal starting line-up after struggling with a knee injury but is now back in training, while Theo Walcott should be fit despite being forced off with a knock in last week’s League Cup win over Doncaster Rovers.
Danny Welbeck (groin), Francis Coquelin (hamstring) and Santi Cazorla (ankle) are missing, as is Calum Chambers who has suffered a recurrence of a recent hip problem.
Arsenal (possible, 3-4-3): Cech; Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Bellerín, Ramsey, Xhaka, Kolasinac; Özil, Lacazette, Sánchez.
Out: Cazorla (Achilles), Chambers (hip) Coquelin (hamstring), Welbeck (groin).
West Brom midfielder Gareth Barry is expected to break the Premier League appearance record at the Emirates Stadium on Monday night.
The 36-year-old, who made his professional debut for Aston Villa in 1998, will play in his 633rd top-flight game and break Ryan Giggs’s record if he features for Tony Pulis side.
Chris Brunt (calf) will be assessed along with Nacer Chadli (thigh) and Oliver Burke (hamstring) while it remains to be seen if Jake Livermore will return to the squad after being given a break by Baggies boss Tony Pulis.
West Bromwich Albion (possible, 4-2-3-1): Foster; Dawson, Hegazy, Evans, Gibbs; Yacob, Barry; Phillips, Krychowiak, Rodriguez; Rondón.
Tests: Brunt (calf), Burke (hamstring), Chadli (thigh).
Views from the Gaffers
“West Brom have the culture of the Premier League, a manager who knows how the league works. They are very strong on set-pieces, solid defensively – it’s tough to score against them.”
“I’ve got something in mind that I want to use and I think it will suit the players we’ve got. I’ve got a great record against them at home for whichever clubs I’ve managed in the Premier League – but I must admit the record at their stadium is the opposite. It would be nice to change that.”
Arsenal 2 1 West Brom