It may only be 12 games into the season but on the back of two successive League defeats, Arsenal is no more in the reckoning for the Premier League title. At least, Wenger has already given in to Chelsea, and his team’s penchant for throwing leads away, as at Swansea, or playing well and making no end product like it was against United, has not helped either.
But this Arsenal team is not dead and buried yet, and if a repeat of the maturity shown against Dortmund in midweek can be rekindled, West Brom away could be the beginning of a renaissance for the Gunners this season.
Even with the increasing crippling of the squad with a quartet of injuries suffered by players in the last 7 days, there has not been an Arsenal performance without positive attacking displays, especially from Alexis Sanchez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Both players, together with Mertesacker, Chambers and Kieran Gibbs have been in every Arsenal team from the start since the win at the Stadium of Light in mid-October – a set of players who we might say have formed the core of the Arsenal team this season.
Arsenal and West Brom may not be pursuing similar ambitions this season but both have enough similarities to suggest that it will be a game where both fancy their chances of nicking the points. The past 12 games of the season have brought four wins to each of them, Arsenal having one more draw than the Baggies which gives the 4 point gap between both teams, the Gunners 8th and West Brom 13th.
While Arsenal’s Chilean Bali guard has undoubtedly been the go-to man, with 13 goals in just his first 20 Arsenal appearances, 8 coming in the League, Alan Irvine has had to rely on hotly pursued youngster Saido Berahino for both goals and inspiration, the 21-year old scoring 6 times already. With just one win in their last six, West Brom will be looking to force the Gunners into showing signs of jitters in defence which probably have characterized our play more than the beautiful aspects.
But that won’t be easy for them, cos Kos is back!
The French International will probably return to the starting line-up after we’ve had to manage with Nacho Monreal in his place for the best part of eight weeks now. Koscielny’s return is vital for Wenger as West Brom possess quite an impressive attacking threat in the pace and trickery of Berahino and Stefan Sessegnon, as well as the power of Victor Anichebe. Where we lack Arteta, they will not also have Claudio Yakob who will serve a suspension for a sending-off in their last game at Chelsea.
With just one win in their previous 6 home games, there is no reason not to believe we can get a result better than the draw we got there last season and while that game was a stop to a stunning run of 10 successive away wins at the time, this one has the markings to be the beginning of a run which could propel us to the top and thick of the pursuit for great glory this term.
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