Arsenal got some good news this week when it was announced that Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere should be able to return from injury soon. However, that means the team will have to do without them again on Saturday April 6 when they travel to Birmingham to take on West Brom. The points are crucial as usual as the race for third and fourth place is still pretty hot and heavy.
Arsenal is still on the outside looking in when it comes to that last European Champions League spot as they’re sitting in fifth place in the table with 53 points. Tottenham is in third with 57 points while Chelsea is hanging onto fourth position with 55 points. The Gunners still need to look behind them too as Everton is within reach at 51 points and Liverpool has 48. Arsenal has a game in hand on both Spurs and Liverpool.
Arsenal has met West Brom a total of 117 times over the years and have won 59 of them while losing 31 and drawing the 27. Arsenal has won six, lost four and drawn five on the road this season while West Brom has won nine, lost four and drawn a pair at home so far at the Hawthorns. Arsenal has four wins and a loss in their past five league matches while West Brom has two wins, two losses, and a draw.
The last time West Brom beat the Gunners was back in 2010 when they were 302 winners at the Emirates in September of that year. West Brom currently sits in eighth place with 44 points from 13 wins, 13 losses, and four draws. They’ve scored 41 goals and allowed 41 against and should be considered as one of the Premier League’s many mediocre teams.
It hasn’t been a bad year for West Brom and new manager Steve Clarke, but realistically, the team is a mid-table entity and that’s basically just where they are. It’s unfortunate that the league consists of a handful of teams that can challenge for the title while the rest of them are happy just to survive. Arsenal, at this point, aren’t in either category and that’s why they’re embroiled in the race for the Champions League berth.
Since West Brom doesn’t really have much to play for at this point in the season it could benefit Arsenal as the players may be rather complacent. They’re a pretty good home team though and the Gunners can’t assume they’ll be able to waltz in and out and take the three points while they’re at it. They’re still going to have to work hard for them. Arsenal’s allowed just one goal against and has won three on the trot since dropping their derby game to Spurs.
West Brom is hoping that James Morrison will be back in the squad after he missed last weekend’s 3-2 loss to West Ham at Upton Park. The team will definitely be without the services of Youssuf Mulumbu as he’s suspended. He received a red card against West Ham for stupidly booting the ball at Gary O’Neill. Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger will likely stick with Lukasz Fabianski in goal instead of his fellow Polish countryman Wojciech Szczesny. Also look for him to go with Laurent Koscielny in the back four rather than Thomas Vermaelen. Abou Diaby will be missing though as he’s out for the season.
Arsenal will have to keep their eye on 19-year-old Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku, who’s on loan at West Brom from Chelsea. The teenager leads the club in league goals this season with 13 and has been one of the Premier League’s brightest lights. He possesses power, speed, and intelligence and Chelsea must be wondering why they loaned him out at this point. Of course, they’ll be hoping he has a blinder in this match to help them out.
For the Gunners, Spanish midfielder Santi Cazorla has been playing some of his best football of the season recently. He was the man of the match in the 4-1 home win over Reading last week and scored his 12th goal of the season. He now leads the team in league goals this campaign. If he can keep it up and the rest of the squad follows his lead, they should be able to pull out a win at the Hawthorns to keep the pressure on Everton, Spurs, and Chelsea.