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WBA-MAD preview: Albion vs Arsenal

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06 Apr 2013 09:41:04

WBA-MAD preview: Albion vs Arsenal

Joseph Chapman previews Albion's game against the Gunners

 

Thanks to goals from Shane Long and Graham Dorrans, it looked like Roy Hodgson would get a deserved send off from his players- that was until Martin Fulop had his say. 

 

The final game of last season's campaign was the only match that number one goalkeeper Ben Foster was absent from; and the only appearance his understudy Fulop ever made for the Baggies, gifting Yossi Benayoun, Andre Santos and Laurent Koscielny in turn goals, meaning the Gunners came out on top 3-2 victors. It makes you wonder if Arsenal would have appeared in this season's Champions League had Foster been fit for the encounter last year...

 

The Arsenal defeat was one of ten suffered at the Hawthorns last season, something current boss Steve Clarke has set about improving, with Albion winning a record number of nine this campaign on home soil. 

 

Arsene Wenger's visitors mean business at the moment, though. They have 5 of their last six games, on top of the impressive victory in Munich which, despite a clean sheet, wasn't enough to see them progress in the competition. 

 

Wenger has come under plenty of criticism once again this term, especially following defeats to Bradford and Blackburn in domestic cup competitions but despite that, still had his side in a position where they are in with a realistic chance of qualifying for a place in Europe's prime competition next year. Whether that achievement is enough to content some Arsenal fans remains to be seen, and it will be interesting to see if serious money is splashed at the Emirates stadium this coming summer.

 

They will have to dig very deep to claim a victory at the Hawthorns, however, where only champions Manchester City, Albion's bogey side Stoke and London counterparts Tottenham and Fulham have taken maximum points from this season.

 

Team News

 

The Baggies should be buoyed by the return of James Morrison. The influential midfielder missed the West Ham defeat with a hamstring injury but is fit. His return is cancelled out by the beginning of a three match ban for another important midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu. The Congolese international stupidly got sent off last weekend and will also miss the entertainment of Newcastle and the trip to City (date permitting).

 

Arsenal are expected to be without English duo Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere for the Hawthorns clash. Walcott missed international duty with a pelvic muscle injury while Wilshere has an ankle problem. Luckless Abou Diaby is out for nine months with knee ligament damage while Lukasz Fabianski is expected to continue in goal.

 

Match Stats

 

 

Name relating to both teams: Nwankwo Kanu Arsenal have only suffered defeat to the Baggies twice in the Premier League, winning 9 of the 13 encounters themselves, with two fixtures ending in draws. West Brom have collected 29 of their 44 points at the Hawthorns this season, compared with 21 out of 47 accumulated last year. Arsenal's current streak of 19 points from a possible 24 is bettered only by table toppers Manchester United. Prediction This game is going to be one that I think the rest of the Premier League will look forward to watching on Match of the Day on Saturday night- if it lives up to its expectation. Both teams play attractive, attacking football, but are vulnerable of conceding at any time. I imagine Arsenal will stick with the same team as Nacho Monreal is fit, while whether Morrison directly replaces Mulumbu will depend on if Clarke sticks with 4-4-2 (a formation which I personally would avoid). Wenger will make sure his players are up for this, as they are the team of the two that ultimately have something to play for. 1-2

Source: WBA MAD


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