Don’t look now, but Arsenal are in the midst of a fine run of form at the Emirates **knocks on wood**. The Gunners have won their last seven Premier League matches at home - the second longest winning streak in the stadium’s history. Arsenal have beaten West Bromwich Albion in six straight at the Emirates. Tony Pulis has managed nine games at the Emirates - he’s never won there.
So it looks like Arsenal should win, right? But there is the pesky matter of the last time these two teams met. The Baggies roundly defeated the Gunners 3-1. Granted that was at the Hawthorns, but West Brom are a side fully capable of giving Arsenal a tough time. Tony Pulis sides defend well as a unit, and the Baggies have the talent to knick a goal to steal the points.
The match marks a return to the Emirates for Kieran Gibbs, who was sold to the Baggies on deadline day. The former Arsenal youth player spent 13 years with the club and made 230 appearances in an Arsenal shirt.
Fans at the Emirates could witness a few milestones on Monday. Most notably, West Brom’s Gareth Barry will set the Premier League all-time appearance record should he feature. He currently sits tied with Ryan Giggs at 632.
On Arsenal’s side, should Alexandre Lacazette score, he would become the first Gunner to do so in his first three Premier League home matches.
I know I sound like a broken record, but the key to Monday’s match will be the play of Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey. Arsenal’s central midfield pairing were fantastic against Chelsea, with the Welshman earning particular praise from Arsene Wenger for the discipline he showed defensively.
That discipline will be tested against a West Brom side that doesn’t present as much of an attacking threat. I expect the Baggies midfield to sit deep to cater to Gareth Barry and Grzegorz Krychowiak’s defensive strength. Ramsey must be careful to not get drawn too far forward leaving the Gunners exposed to the counter.
Mesut Özil’s fitness is up in the air. The German returned to training midweek, but there has been no word from Arsene Wenger on his availability for selection. Calum Chambers and Danny Welbeck are both out until at least after the international break. Santi Cazorla and Francis Coquelin are still out as well.
For the Baggies, Chris Brunt, Oliver Burke, and Nacer Chadli are a doubt for the match.
A big question for the Gunners is will Alexis Sánchez start. Arsene Wenger said that he has been working the Chilean back into form, not punishing him and that he intends to rotate his attacking players from midweek to weekend. Even though Alexis played midweek, with Welbeck out, I expect the Chilean to be in the starting lineup on Monday. If Özil is unable to play, I expect Alex Iwobi to take his spot. The defense and midfield should be unchanged from the Chelsea match.
WHAT: Arsenal vs. West Bromwich Albion
WHEN: Monday, September 25th | 12 PM PT / 3 PM EST / 8 PM BST
WHERE: Emirates Stadium, London
US TV: NBCSN. You can watch NBC Sports’ online stream here.
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