Arsenal host West Brom this weekend in what could be a tricky fixture for the home side. The Gunners have had a mixed start to the season and it is important they don’t give away points in matches such as these, especially if they want to challenge for the title. In the last four meetings of the two, the home side have come out on top and that will give the Gunners confidence this weekend. Last season, Arsene Wenger’s men ran out 1-0 winners in this fixture.
Although the North London side find themselves in mid table, they will be pleased with their performance last weekend. They traveled to Stamford Bridge and kept a clean sheet to earn a point. It was a hard-fought and determined performance from the side, which was encouraging for supporters. Arsene Wenger needs to learn how to adapt his game-plan to suit the upcoming opposition and he showed that he can do that with the draw at Chelsea. This weekend offers a different test and it will be interesting to see if they can shift gears back to their free-flowing attacking best.
The Baggies have had a really good start to the season and have taken eight points from their opening five matches. A section of the support are not behind Tony Pulis and his style of play. However, it is difficult to criticise the results. At the moment, they are above Arsenal in the league table and they can approach the weekend with no pressure on them. They will be difficult to break down and look to exploit set-pieces, which is an area that Arsenal have never excelled at.
Mesut Ozil is a doubt as he recovers from a knee injury, but there is hope that he can play a part on Monday. Francis Coquelin, Calum Chambers and Danny Welbeck will all be missing for the hosts.
West Brom have a number of attacking options that are doubtful for this weekend, with Nacer Chadli, Oliver Burke and Chris Brunt all battling to be fit.
- Arsenal were the first visiting team to keep a clean sheet at Stamford Bridge in a competitive game since Antonio Conte took over as manager.
- West Brom have continued where they left off and have already kept three clean sheets at the start of the new campaign.
This will be an important game for the French international as he continues to adapt to the Premier League. West Brom will look to target him and take a physical approach. If he is to succeed in this league and emerge as one of the best forwards, he needs to deal with that and respond in the perfect way possible, with goals. It was important that he got off the mark quickly and he has two goals to date, but there is a lot more to come from the striker. On Monday, he will be one of the players that the Baggies will need to keep a close eye on as he has the pace and intelligence to find space in the final third. It will be a good opportunity for him to add to his tally and build confidence in what should be a winnable home game. The experience of facing the battle-hardened of West Brom defence will be a positive experience for him.
There are few players in the West Brom team that have experience at the highest level and remain in their prime, but the Polish international fits both descriptions. It was a surprise that he ended up moving to the Baggies, but it underlines the pulling power that every Premier League club now has. Although his aim for the loan spell is unclear, he will want to do well against the bigger teams in the division and prove himself in England after an underwhelming spell at PSG. If he performs consistently, there could be an opportunity for him to seek a move to a bigger club at the end of his current loan spell. Arsenal’s biggest weakness is in central midfield and Krychowiak has the ability to dominate that area on Monday. If he does, West Brom could secure a positive result.
This will be a very winnable fixture for Arsenal and anything other than a victory will cause anger among the supporters again. The relationship between the club and fan-base is a fragile one, which makes fixtures such as this one even more important than they usually are. The Gunners have an incredible array of attacking options and it is possible that they start with a front three of Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Lacazette on Monday. Although West Brom are a good team defensively, this should end in a home victory.