Arsenal face a difficult trip to West Brom as they attempt to get their Champions League hopes back on track. It is important that they don’t allow the gap to fourth place grow any bigger and with Liverpool travelling to Manchester City this weekend, there is a good opportunity to haul back at least one of their rivals. The Baggies will offer tough opposition and will be hoping to pick up three points like they did in this fixture last season.
Although they are 8th in the Premier League and having a very good season, their last two performances haven’t been great. There is a fear that West Brom are going to slow down now as they have reached the 40-point mark. Tony Pulis has done a great job to take his side to the next level after signing a new contract earlier this season, but there are doubts about whether he can take them much further. They need to give a strong account of themselves this weekend to start to rebuild positive momentum after some poor showings.
The Gunners will be coming to the Hawthorns after a few bad weeks, which culminated in them being knocked out of the Champions League by Bayern Munich. They were humiliated by the German side, which led to some fan protests ahead of the Lincoln City match. The pressure on Arsene Wenger has increased to a level higher than it has been during recent seasons. It is important that the players don’t let the speculation about their manager’s future get to them, as they must go onto finish in the top four.
West Brom have lost their last two league fixtures against Crystal Palace and Everton, which has led to some supporters fearing that the team aren’t going to push on over the run-in. Before those two defeats, they had been unbeaten in five league matches and looking like they could cement a top eight finish.
Arsenal have had a mixed few weeks, as they suffered defeats to Bayern Munich in the Champions League and Liverpool in the Premier League, while also reaching the last four of the FA Cup. They now need to improve their league form as they have lost three of their last four in the competition.
Although they didn’t get anything from the game, West Brom are likely to keep most of the team that lost to Everton. Their success this season has been built on having a settled side. The one change could be Salomon Rondon coming back in for Hal Robson-Kanu.
Arsene Wenger is likely to reinstate Mesut Ozil to the starting eleven for the trip to West Brom. Nacho Monreal is also a probable starter and will replace Kieron Gibbs.
West Brom Arsenal
Matt Phillips is the only injury concern for the hosts and he could be back in the squad after some time out with a hamstring problem. The rest of the squad are available.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Kieran Gibbs are both doubts for this weekend after contracting knocks against Lincoln City. Mohamed Elneny is closing in on a return, while Santi Cazorla remains on the sidelines.
This is going to be a tense match and won’t be a fixture that Arsene Wenger is looking forward to. The Arsenal manager needs a victory this weekend ahead of the international break to prevent the atmosphere within the fanbase getting any worse. West Brom will set up to limit the space given to the Arsenal attackers before looking to score on the counter-attack. They will also target set pieces as they usually do. The visitors are favourites and should grind out a much-needed victory, but it won’t be easy.
Score prediction: West Brom 1-2 Arsenal