Our first home game of the new season welcomes the newcomer and conquerors of the Championship, West Bromwich Albion. Branded with the free-flowing attacking football, Manager Tony Mowbray take his promising side to Emirates stadium to test exactly how much he has achieved in the past 2 seasons re-building the squad. With the headlines of British football hogged with transfer news of the big 4, we understand little about our humble opponents. So below are some of the notable facts and analysis of WBA and the squad members:
WEST BROMWICH ALBION: THE FACTS
Manager: Tony Mowbray
Position last season: Promoted, as champions
Ground: The Hawthorns
Players In: Luke Moore (Aston Villa, £3m), Scott Carson (Liverpool, £3.25m), Do-heon Kim (Seongnam Ilhwa Shunma, £500,000), Roman Bednar (Hearts, £2,5m), Gianni Zuiverloon (Heerenveen, £2.3m), Marek Cech (Porto, £1.4m), Graham Dorrans (Livingston, £100,000), Abdoulaye Meite (Bolton, £2m)
Players Out: Luke Steele (free, Barnsley), Zoltan Gera (free, Fulham), Martin Albrechtsen (free, Derby), Curtis Davies (undisclosed, Aston Villa), Kevin Phillips ( Birmingham, free), Stefan Morrison ( Swansea, free)
Key man: Scott Carson
Flying the Arsenal flag of playing free flowing and attacking football, WBA has been playing at the wrong end despite impressive performance against Portsmouth in last season’s FA cup semi-final and the ill-fated defeat to Derby in the playoff. If we thought this home game against WBA will be a stroll in the park and it will be 3-points in the bag even before the game has started, we will be in for a very bumpy ride in the seats of Emirates. The experience manager Tony Mowbray has been making some wise purchase in the transfer markets despite the notable departures of some of their key players such as Zoltan Gera and Kevin Philips. At certain stage, Arsenal seems to be in the same position of WBA, with key players such as Hleb, Gilberto and Flamini leaving for greener pastures.
In WBA, the departures of defensive lynchpins in Martin Albrechtsen and Curtis Davis have prompted the manager to bring in a central defender, Abdoulaye Meite from Bolton. Understanding the threats that pacy wingers can poise in the Premiership, the arrival of fullbacks in Marek Cech and Gianni Zuiverloon is indeed a wise move. Arriving with promise and reputation from Porto, Marek Cech played a left back position aiming at stopping our right wing supply of crosses. The Holland under 21 international from Heerenveen, Gianni Zuiverloon will be up to the challenge of Walcott on the right side of defense. Oh dear~! How we wish Arsene can make defensive purchase like our WBA counterpart.
This WBA squad of the new season is assembled with players of Premiership experience all around the pitch in Luke Moore, Abdoulaye Meite and most notably Scott Carson. The ex Liverpool stopper is finally playing the regular club football and has made impressive displays during his loan stay in Aston Villa. With him, Tony Mowbray has assembled a defense strong enough to counter the attacking threats from the Premiership football. Our Arsenal attackers will face a torrid time trying to break down the defense wall of WBA. With playmaker and club captain Jonathan Greening stringing the attacks through the midfield with Robert Koren, Denilson and Ramsey will face an acid test to stamp their authority in the midfield.
Latest Injury news from the Arsenal Camp:
Arsene has revealed that Nasri and Toure are likely to return for the opener against WBA. He commented on Toure,
“He is not completely 100 per cent at the moment. He is still recovering a bit from pre-season problems. But hopefully Nasri can be back in the squad.”
Other notable absentees include: Fabregas (hamstring), Senderos (hamstring), Abou Diaby (thigh), Eduardo (leg), Tomas Rosicky (hamstring), Amaury Bischoff (groin) and Alex Song (Olympics participation). Of those, it appears the Spaniard is closest to a return. It seems we could expect a surprise inclusion of Fabregas in the squad to face WBA. In fact, our midfield gem is badly missed in the victory against FC Twente. If he is unfit to face the Hawthorns, I would expect Toure to be thrown into the fray to control the midfield and defend the back four.
Personally, I am not convinced that our young but passionate and combative midfielders in Ramsey and Denilson are up to the task against the strong and experienced WBA midfield. The long list of absentees is not exactly the pleasant start to the new season. We can expect the free-flowing attacking football on display in this match, but it would be a really tough match for the Gunners. Just like what Adebayor has stated, should victory come our way, it will be an ugly win despite playing with beautiful attacking football.