Arsenal v WBA Preview

Although it seems far too early to leave the warm bubble that is the aftermath of a 4-1 north London derby demolition, the bread and butter of the Premier League returns tomorrow with a potentially tricky home tie against Roberto DiMatteo’s ever improving West Bromwich Albion side.
Although on paper this looks like a nice chance to once again display our attacking armoury against one of the League’s whipping boys, West Brom will come to the Emirates on the back of two impressive home wins against Birmingham and Man City. Full of confidence and now aided by an out-and-out goal scorer in the wonderfully named Peter Odemwingie, The Baggies will perhaps be allowing themselves to dream of shedding their tag as English football’s yo-yo team, having been relegated and promoted 7 times in the last 8 seasons. Thus the attention to caution and need for professionalism that Wenger called for in his press conference yesterday may be a wise sentiment.
On the other hand, a goal difference of +15 from our first 3 home games of the season excuses those who will see anything other than 3 points, and a handsome score line to boot, as a major disappointment come Saturday tea-time. The air of quiet confidence surrounding the club at the moment is a consistent feature of recent seasons, yet as we all know, the last time an impressive campaign bore fruit was back in 2004, when a good start never ended. Once again, impressive performances at home coupled with victories at Spurs and Blackburn and a largely impeccable defensive display at Sunderland, have encouraged a cautious optimism. This is only expected to further grow on Saturday as Wenger’s boys look to stretch their unbeaten run to 8 games.
An added bonus of this year’s squad is its strength-in-depth, a trait at last acquired after years of nurturing youth at the expense of experience. Whilst young players like Henri Lansbury, Wojciech Szczesny and Havard Nordtveit promise great things, Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs are almost there already. Despite their tender years, these two add to an impressive artillery at Wenger’s disposal, standing hand in hand with seasoned professionals such as Rosicky and Squillaci. Wenger returns to the dugout tomorrow following his midweek suspension, and will be joined by Alex Song and Abou Diaby, returning from suspension and injury respectively, as well the rest of the players given a breather on Wednesday.
Although knocks picked up by Emmanuel Eboue and Rosicky may rule them out, joining a whole host of first-teamers on the treatment table, a midfield likely to consist of two of the Premier Leagues in form players in Jack Wilshere and Samir Nasri should prove too much for West Brom. With Chelsea having to travel to Eastlands for the battle of the billions, Arsenal could potentially close the gap at the top of the league, and anything other than such an eventuality is almost unthinkable.

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