Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will be desperate to keep within touching distance of the early Premier League leaders when West Brom travel down to the Emirates Stadium on Monday night.
The Gunners have already dropped eight points from just five matches so far this season, leaving them languishing in the bottom-half of the table, and Wenger will know there’s no margin for error.
West Brom have enjoyed a slightly better start to 2017-18 than their London counterparts, with Tony Pulis earning two wins and two draws, and he’ll want to avoid defeat once again on Monday.
Read on for The Boot Room’s assessment of Arsenal’s critical clash with the Baggies.
It’s certainly been a tale of two halves for Arsene Wenger’s side up until now, winning all of their matches at the Emirates Stadium across all competitions yet failing to find a win away from home.
Victories over Leicester City and Bournemouth in the Premier League, as well as FC Koln and Doncaster Rovers in knock-out football, have been steady if not spectacular.
Yet it’s their away form that has let them down, losing consecutive top-flight encounters at Stoke City and that harrowing afternoon at Liverpool before a disciplined stalemate with holders Chelsea.
The visitors have faded a little after successive victories to start the campaign, failing to win in the previous four matches in all competitions – including the comprehensive 3-1 defeat against Brighton.
They came a lick of paint away from taking a rampant Manchester City side to extra-time in the Carabao Cup in the week though and Tony Pulis will want his side to take heart from their display.
Arsenal’s infamous duo of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez are both pushing to be in contention for Monday’s clash after missing the start of the draw with Chelsea, with Sanchez playing in midweek.
It’s expected that one of them will come in for Danny Welbeck, who has been ruled out until after the international break with a groin problem, whilst Frances Coquelin is also side-lined until mid-October.
Tony Pulis has a few concerns heading into Monday, with Nacer Chadli and Oliver Burke amongst those that will face last-minute fitness tests, whilst Jake Livermore isn’t ready after taking an extended break.
In other team news of note, Kieran Gibbs is poised to feature against his former side after a £5million switch this summer whilst Gareth Barry will make an all-time record 633rd Premier League appearance.
Match Prediction: Arsenal 2-0 West Brom
As mentioned earlier there really is no margin for error for Arsene Wenger’s side when West Brom travel to London, with there potential for Arsenal to be nine points adrift of the top prior to kick-off.
But whilst their early results have left a lot to be desired, their home form has been flawless in all competitions – winning four from four and scoring 11 in the process – and expect this to continue.
The Baggies were swept aside by Premier League new-boys Brighton on their last Premier League away day and, with Alexis Sanchez edging nearer to full fitness, they could find it tough to keep Arsenal at bay.