EPL: Arsenal V West Brom – Saturday, 25th September22nd September 2010 / Matt
Arsenal V West Brom
Saturday, 25th September – 15:00 GMT
Venue: The Emirates
League Position: 2nd
League Form: DWWWD
The Gunners showed some real character on Tuesday night, when beating arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur 4- in the Carling Cup third round after extra-time, to bounce back from a demoralising draw away at Sunderland in which Arsenal seen two valuable points slip through their grasp and manager Arsene Wenger ensue to the wrath of the But instead of dwelling on the disappointment, Arsenal responded in emphatic fashion by dumping Spurs out of the Carling Cup – A colossal achievement in itself considering the fierce rivalry between the two clubs – and with their tails wagging once more, Arsenal will be difficult to stop on Saturday as they host newly promoted West Brom at The Emirates stadium.
Knowing Arsene Wenger it could be several weeks before he finally stops grumbling about Sunderland’s stoppage time equaliser last Saturday, with Darren Bent scoring in the 95th minute despite the fourth official indicating there was only four added minutes to be played. Arsene Wenger could not hide his discontent with the decision to allow play to go on and as a result was charged with misconduct by the FA, fined £8,000 and forced to serve a one-match touchline ban, which was enforced on Tuesday for Arsenal’s game with Tottenham Hotspur in the Carling Cup. If anything, Arsene Wenger got off lightly as he missed a match of far less importance than any Premier League fixture, while his players didn’t mind not having the temperamental Frenchman on the sidelines as they romped to victory without him in the end.
While Wenger will have been delighted with his players for their response in midweek, recording a stunning win over their North-London rivals Tottenham, the real recovery tester awaits them on Saturday when they clash with West Brom in the league. Their success in midweek will count for nothing if they don’t despatch of West Brom at home on Saturday in a game the Gunners simply have to win if they wish to harbour realistic aspirations for the Premier League title. At the moment, with five games gone and Arsenal yet to suffer their first defeat of the season, the Gunners are Chelsea’s hottest pursuers but still find themselves adrift of the Chelsea express, five points to be exact, so there is absolutely no room for let up from Arsenal.
The bad news for Arsene Wenger was information regarding the extent of Cesc Fabregas’s injury, which he sustained following a bizarre incident where he opened the scoring at Sunderland at the weekend following an attempted block of an Anton Ferdinand clearance. Tests later revealed that the Spaniard would miss up to three weeks of action, a catastrophe for Arsenal fans as it means Fabregas is likely to miss Arsenal’s huge clash with Chelsea on October 3rd. Plus, when you add in the injuries of Robin Van Persie and Theo Walcott, Wenger does have somewhat of an injury crisis on his hands at present, while Thomas Vermaelen is still recovering from an Achilles problem and Wenger is none the wiser on whether the defender will return in time to take his place in the heart of the Arsenal defence.
League Position: 10th
League Form: WDLWL
Roberto Di Matteo’s men have fared alright in the Premier League so far, although we’re well aware that the dazzling heights of the Premiership isn’t exactly new to the Baggies. After five games, all of which were pretty daunting fixtures on paper, West Brom have done well to suffered just two defeats whilst collecting a more than reasonable seven points en route to acclimatising with the top half of the table. We only hope they savoured their brief moment up in the clouds as their opponents this Saturday are more than capable of bringing the Baggies straight back to earth, with Arsenal next up for West Brom in a fixture no-one really expects them to get anything from.
There are several fixtures this season where West Brom are unlikely to register a single point in and Saturday’s affair with Arsenal at The Emirates is most definitely one, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t spring a surprise as their early displays, which have been bright and promising, haven’t exactly been the stuff of Premier League no-hoper’s. However, like most newly promoted side, the Baggies haven’t yet got the hang of playing away from home, at venues where the support is very biased but no less passionate than at lower league stadium’s, with West Brom already posting a miserable looking record of 0-0-2 on the road this season having shipped a concerning seven goals in two games. However, six of those did come in one game, against the runaway leaders Chelsea, while they were far from disgraced at Anfield when coming so close to earning their first league point on Merseyside against the Reds only to be denied by a piece of Torres magic.
I think it’s fair to say that West Brom play some very attractive football, with their passing game exquisite at times and most definitely up their with the very best in the country, and that has been West Brom’s philosophy for years, to play entertaining football regardless of the consequences. The alarm do begin to ring though when the Baggies, well, Di Matteo in fairness, don’t decide to mix it around a bit when playing away from a cosy Hawthorns stadium as Plan A is extremely hard to implement away from home, where the hosts generally have the edge when it comes to dictating the play and bossing the pitch. If West Brom try to play football at The Emirates then they will be punished accordingly, probably emphatically if they’re not careful, so Di Matteo needs to mastermind something special although it doesn’t appear as though he has the raw materials to halt an Arsenal team capable of scoring any numbers of goals on their day.
While Di Matteo did decide to make several notable changes for his side’s midweek Carling Cup clash with Manchester City, those drafted in performed well and got the job done against one of the competition favourites – The team we expected would go far but were derail early on by an accomplished West Brom side, although, it is definitely worth mentioning that their scalp of free-spending Man City did come at home, like the rest of their notable results this season.
Basic Team Statistics:
Games Played: 5
Played at Home: 2
Home 1X2: 2-0-0
Home Goals: 10
Conceded at Home: 1
Clean Sheets: 1
Home Clean Sheets: 1
Top Goalscorer: Theo Walcott (4)
Top Home Goalscorer: Theo Walcott (3)
Games Played: 5
Played Away: 2
Away 1X2: 0-0-2
Away Goals: 0
Conceded Away: 7
Clean Sheets: 1
Away Clean Sheets: 0
Top Goalscorer: Peter Odemwingie
Top Away Goalscorer: -
Match Prediction: Arsenal to WIN – 1.22 Bet365
You’d be a brave punter to back anything other than an Arsenal victory. The Baggies do play some majestic stuff at times, retaining possession better than most at times, but their best material tends to come back at The Hawthorns, whereas Arsenal have blown Blackpool and Bolton Wanderers away in their two home fixtures so far and could be about to add West Brom to their victim list.
Arsenal’s kids performed better than expected in midweek, ousting Tottenham from the Carling Cup with a 4-1 win after Extra-Time and now it’s time for the big boys to return – A daunting prospect when you consider just how well the kids fared against a strong Tottenham side on Tuesday. One player which will be missing is Cesc Fabregas and that could have a telling impact on just how many goals Arsenal score, which could be fewer than the fixture would suggest, and with West Brom looking more solid and compact than in previous spells in the Premier League, perhaps the Baggies are a slice of value with small stakes, or even on the Asian handicap.
Soccer-Betting Value Bet: Draw/Arsenal (HT/FT) – 5.00 Boylesports
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