Arsenal vs West Brom: Make or break game for the Gunners
West Brom at home is now a really important game for the Gunners. West Brom have been the surprise of the season so far before recently being jack-hammered with a couple of losses. Steve Clarke had a very good reputation as an assistant manager and has done quite well since taking over as the West Brom Boss.
Arsenal on the other hand have not received a relatively pleasant atmosphere at the Emirates, and the Gunners’ form has been worryingly poor. Michu’s brace in the last game ensured Arsenal didn’t get back to winning ways. With Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski ruled out, the absence of centre back Laurent Koscielny and full back “bac bac Bacary Sagna” will give a tough time to the Arsenal think tank when they put the players on the sheet.
Steve Clarke worked with ‘Mou’ during his time at Chelsea and he loves to hit back teams on the counter attack. Clarke’s main tactics in the game will be to use the pace of his players – Shane Long, Odemwingie, and Gera. Clarke likes to play Long in a hard working role and the latter has clear instructions to tire the opposition back four by working the channels till the 60th min and then he brings on the pacy Belgian Romelu Lukaku to expose the vulnerability of a tired back line.
Individual challenges to watch will be Long vs Vermaelen, Giroud vs McAuley, Cazorla vs Morrison. Arsenal will have to keep up their zonal marking. It will be interesting to see who Arsenal play on the wings, given that Gervinho’s form has been poor and The Ox has not looked so dangerous after coming back from injury. Ramsey is not expected to start as he played full 90 mins in Greece mid week, also being made the scapegoat hasn’t helped him either.
The visitors surprisingly have the lowest number of crosses in the Premier League, averaging just 18 crosses per game, which means West Brom will try to penetrate through the heart of the Arsenal, and that’s where Mikel Arteta’s invisible shield will be handful. Also, Jackie boy needs to step up his game if Arsenal are to look dangerous in the final third. If Rosicky starts in the classic 4-3-3, it will be interesting to see how he gels with Cazorla as the duo like to move the ball around fast. Ben Foster has been confirmed to be out of the game due to his groin injury. Meanwhile, the Baggies have enjoyed different goal scorers with Long and Lukaku each netting five, Odemwingie four and Morrison three.
Personal appeals from Arsene Wenger and Tomas Rosicky have encouraged fans to support the team and keep the faith going with the Red and the White. Continuous booing and the negative atmosphere at the Emirates hasn’t helped either. The division of Arsenal fans in two troops AKB (Arsene knows Best) and WOB (Wenger Out Brigade) has created a bigger ridge between the fans. Arsenal needs to make the Emirates a place where teams are going to come and be fearful that an Arsenal team in full flow is really going to put them to the sword.
Arsenal are expected to start with a 4-3-3. Expected Arsenal lineup for the game: Szczesny, Jenkinson, Per, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Arteta, Wilshere, Rosicky, Ox, Giroud, Cazorla. Subs: Vito, Sagna, Arshavin, Ramsey, Coquelin, Chamakh, Djourou.