West Bromwich Albion is not a good team. They have not won a Premier League match since August. They sit last in the table. They’ve scored the second fewest goals of any team. On paper, Arsenal should have no trouble winning at the Hawthorns.
Lately however, the Gunners have been making things more difficult than they should be. They conceded late against Crystal Palace and had to sweat out injury time. They went behind 2-0 to Liverpool before rallying back. They only put one past Newcastle. They didn’t score against West Ham in the league. More generally, Arsenal have struggled away from the Emirates this season (3-3-4 record).
Couple that with West Brom’s recent results against top sides (draws against Liverpool and Tottenham, lost 2-1 to United), and you are well on your way to a tricky fixture. When these two sides met at the Emirates in September, Arsenal prevailed 2-0 on the strength of an Alexandre Lacazette brace. But don’t read too much into that - Tony Pulis was West Brom’s manager then, and Alan Pardew has the Baggies playing better, even if the results haven’t been there.
Wouldn’t it be nice if Arsenal could manage a comfortable win? You look around the Premier League and that’s what the other top teams are doing - putting 4 and 5 past opponents with the result of the match never really in doubt. Sure Arsenal managed that against Huddersfield at the end of November, but it’s about time they do it again.
An easy win would be the perfect way to commemorate a milestone for Arsene Wenger - tomorrow the boss takes sole possession of the record for most Premier League games managed with 811. Wenger recently reflected on some of his more memorable moments as Arsenal manager in an interview with Sky Sports. He credited the confidence the club showed in him, the quality of the players he’s had over the years, and his own hard work and dedication for his success and longevity.
Wenger will be without the services of Olivier Giroud (hamstring), Nacho Monreal (ankle), and Aaron Ramsey (hamstring) tomorrow. Pardew will be missing Nacer Chadli (hip), Salomon Rondon (hamstring), and James Morrison (Achilles).
Interesting sidenote: tomorrow, Arsenal will wear all red kits (uniforms, shorts, and socks) for the first time in nearly 40 years because of color conflicts with West Brom’s home kit.
WHAT: Arsenal at West Bromwich Albion
WHERE: The Hawthorns, West Midlands
WHEN: Sunday, December 31st, 8:30 AM PT | 11:30 AM ET | 5:30 PM BST
US TV: NBCSN. Stream here.
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