Saturday, 29 November 2014

Arsenal's Trip To West Brom Previewed

Arsenal managed to get a win for the first time in four games when they beat Dortmund at home on Wednesday night. It was a very welcome victory as it sealed their place in the last 16 of the Champions League for the 15th season in a row. They showed the effort and commitment which had been questioned in that game and it has given real cause for hope.

Every bad run has to end somewhere and a team with Arsenal's ability has to play to it's potential at some stage this season. There are three league games in the next eight days and a real chance for the team to make some progress up the league table. At the moment they're eighth, but they're only two points behind fourth placed United.

They travel to a West Brom team who have struggled in recent weeks and failed to score in their last two games. They have only won once in their six home games with only Everton conceding more goals at home. The Hawthorns is never an easy ground to visit, but the points are there for the taking if Arsenal can get their game right.

At least Arsenal didn't pick up any more defensive injuries on Wednesday night and Laurent Koscielny was on the bench which could mean he will be back in the starting line up against Albion. He's the best defender Arsenal have and his absence has been sorely felt for nearly two months now. Nacho Monreal has had to play as a central defender in his absence and he has struggled in the position although he showed some real improvement against Dortmund.

The big injury concern from that game was Mikel Arteta who picked up what I think is his third injury of the season and looks like he will be out for a while. Added to that Jack Wilshere will be out for three months after undergoing surgery on the ankle injury he got last Saturday. It means there will be plenty of change in the midfield yet again.

There's no definitive word on either Wojciech Szczesny or Danny Welbeck either, but if they can't make it I would imagine Emiliano Martinez and Olivier Giroud will play instead of them. I know Martinez is young and inexperienced, but I have been impressed with his two displays so far this season and Arsenal won both games. Giroud is only just back from injury, but with Yaya Sanogo picking up yet another injury on Wednesday night it looks like there will be no choice other than to play him. He looked sharp enough when he came on against United and he took his goal really well.

I would imagine Mathieu Flamini will fill in for Arteta and hopefully he will be up to the task, as the team have shipped a few goals from his lapses so far this season. If the midfield can defend as a unit like they did on Wednesday night Flamini should find his task an awful lot easier. He will have to play very well to get anywhere near the performances of Arteta in the last two games. 

If Arsenal are going to get the win they need I think the key players are going to be Alexis Sanchez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The two of them were very good on Wednesday night and with them taking on West Brom defenders I think Arsenal will get enough chances to put a few goals away. Once they can keep some defensive discipline for the whole game I think a win by a couple of goals is on the cards.

Arsenal have being getting an awful lot of crosses into the box this season and they have had some degree of success from those crosses. With Giroud in the team I would hope for more goals to be scored from crosses as he's certainly better in the air than either Wellbeck or Sanogo. With wide players like Sanchez and Chamberlain as well as two attacking full backs there should be plenty of chances for him to show how good he is the air assuming he plays of course.

After his excellent performance in the playmakers role on Wednesday night I expect to see Santi Cazorla play there again. He got the assists for both goals against Dortmund and it's a role he loves to play. With the injuries Arsenal have at the moment Cazorla could get quite a few games in that position and the chance to show what he can do there for a prolonged period.

I hope the team have turned the corner and will now start to play a lot better and get the results to go with it. There's still plenty to play for this season and it's about time Arsenal started playing to their potential. Fingers crossed they will have nine more points on the board in eight days time.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

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