West Bromwich Albion vs Arsenal Capital One Cup Third Round Preview
League-leading Arsenal will be hoping their Premier League and Champions League success can be replicated in the Capital One Cup as they travel to Birmingham to take on West Bromwich Albion on Wednesday September 25. West Brom manager Steve Clarke is warning Arsene Wenger’s men that his side could be dangerous underdogs in this third-round match and shouldn’t be underestimated.
Arsenal is coming off an impressive 3-1 home win over Stoke City on the weekend while West Brom sealed former Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio’s fate with a 3-0 win over his Wearside team at the Hawthorns. Mesut Ozil was the creative force for the Gunners on Sunday as he had a hand in setting up all three goals.
West Brom has played some inconsistent football so far this season and the 14th-place club has just five points from five games and are only one above the relegation zone. They have one win, two draws and a pair of defeats with just four goals for and four against. The Gunners have won four and lost one with 11 goals scored and six allowed.
Clarke said, “As a team the last two performances have been good. At Fulham we rescued a point late on but the second half performance was good. Saturday’s performance was solid, some good attacking play and some good moments. Another clean sheet which was good for us.”
The West Brom boss realizes Arsenal will be tough to beat and that’s why it’s important he chooses the right mix of players for the game. He’s going to be going into the match without the services of Zoltan Gera and goalkeeper Ben Foster as they’re definitely out due to injuries. Also, Shane Long, Matej Vydra, and Steven Reid are all doubtful.
Arsenal’s definitely on a roll with seven straight wins, but they’ve run into some serious injury problems already this season. The latest casualty is England international Theo Walcott as he injured an abdominal muscle in the warm up on Sunday. Walcott will undergo a minor operation this week and will then begin his rehabilitation immediately. The bad news for England fans is that he’s expected to miss the country’s last two World Cup qualifiers in October.
The other Gunners who are expected to miss the West Brom match are midfielders Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Tomas Rosicky, Abou Diaby, and Santi Cazorla as well as forwards Yaya Sanogo and Lukas Podolski. It will be a good test for Wenger’s squad to see how much depth the club has and if they’re still serious contenders for domestic cups even with the slew of injuries.
West Brom’s main focus is to stay afloat in the Premier League this season. However, we’ve often seen mediocre teams do well in the League Cup since many stronger clubs field weakened sides. Arsenal know all about this as they were knocked out of the FA and League Cups last season by lower division sides. Arsenal has won 10 consecutive matches away from home and beat West Brom 2-1 at the Hawthorns in the league last season as well as tripping them up 2-0 at the Emirates.
West Brom has two wins, two draws and two losses in their past six overall contests and will likely go with most of the same players that beat Sunderland on the weekend. It looks like Wenger may start Emiliano Viviano in goal for his Gunners debut instead of Wojiech Szczesny. Nacho Monreal, Thomas Vermaelen, Carl Jenkinson, Gedion Zelalem, Chuba Akpom, Serge Gnabry, and Ryo Miyaichi could all be in line to start or at least get some playing time. One player who should play at some time in the match is Danish international striker Nicklas Bendtner, who hasn’t made an appearance for the club for two years now.
This could be a close match and if it’s level after 90 minutes the teams will play 30 more of extra time. If it’s still even then we’ll be treated to a penalty shootout.