Happy New Year! For Gunners fans, it’s (finally) a period of good fortune. Let’s hope that continues Saturday. Two straight wins have lifted Arsenal up to 13th in the table, the defense has been limiting shots on target, and the front line has been brought to life by the young trio of Martinelli, Smith Rowe, and Saka.
On top of that, the club successfully found a new home for Sead Kolasinac, joining Schalke on loan for the second half of the season. A win for last place Schalke, a chance for Kolasinac to start each week, and it begins the work on reducing the size of Arsenal’s squad.
On paper, Saturday’s opponent looks favorable for Arsenal to get a third league win in a row, but we will take nothing for granted. West Brom is 19th in the table having won just once in the league and have a -24 goal differential. They managed a surprising point against Liverpool last weekend but gave up a total of eight goals to Aston Villa and Leeds United in the two matches surrounding that. As momentum finally starts to build, does Mikel Arteta risk adjusting the starting lineup?
- Eddie Nketiah
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
- Bukayo Saka
- Dani Ceballos
- Joe Willock
- Ainsley Maitland-Niles
- Shkodran Mustafi
- Cedric Soares
- Alex Runarsson
- Left Out: Calum Chambers, Willian & David Luiz - Both returned to the squad on 12/31 following isolation protocols.
- Out: Thomas Partey (thigh injury), Gabriel (COVID isolation), Reiss Nelson (muscular issue)
- It’s the third match in eight days, but with a FA Cup break up ahead and the potential of a league pause, Arteta has to continue to stick with this winning formula he has found — as much as possible.
- The backline of Tierney, Mari, Holding, & Bellerin behind the midfield duo of Xhaka and Elneny has worked well as a unit to limit opposition attacks. Arsenal has only given up five shots on target over the past two matches (Chelsea - 3 & Brighton - 2) while landing 10 on target themselves. The reverse of what we’ve seen often this season. Bring back those six in front of Leno and let them rest for the group on the bench next Saturday in the FA Cup against Newcastle.
- Much of the same applies upfront. Martinelli, Smith Rowe, and Saka have brought the energy back to the Arsenal attack. Ideally, they all return again, saving Pepe, Nketiah, Willian for the FA Cup, but the question comes down to Saka’s status. After taking a big knock against Brighton, he has been in full training and is available for selection, but will Arteta chance him once again? If he’s recovered and the team physios don’t see him as a risk for the red zone, then he should start. If not, Pepe could come in on the right considering Willian has missed the last two weeks of training and has by far been the more productive of the two.
- Up top, it’s Lacazette back in as he and Aubameyang rotate the starting role. Lacazette’s entrance and quick goal on Tuesday was his 7th of the season. He leads Arsenal’s attackers in shots on goal and the percentage of his total shots landing on target. With his ability to track back, hold the ball up, connect play, and now finally refinding his form in front of goal, Alexandre has stepped up when Mikel Arteta desperately needed a leader.
How to watch
Saturday (1/2) at 3:00 pm ET / 12:00 am PT on Peacock Premium.