We just about put the ghost of a dreadful away performance against Palace to bed on Thursday night and we have the chance to do likewise today. The defeat at West Brom was a low point last season, but it epitomised so much about Arsenal at the time. Those problems clearly haven’t gone away, but getting our fourth away win of the season would certainly help us to imagine they might do.
Thinking we have turned a corner is a dangerous thing with this Arsenal team though and the fact that we almost let Palace back in on Thursday night proved just that. We should have been out of sight in that game, but we dropped deep and surrendered the ball late on and that’s something we just cannot do. Thankfully we held on and kept up with the rest of the teams chasing for every position up as far as second.
The schedule is very hectic for every team at the moment and we have a huge game at home to second placed Chelsea on Wednesday night. The outcome of that game could have a huge impact on how the rest of our season goes as we all know how we have often gone to pieces after defeats against some of the other big teams. I wonder if the prospect of that game with Chelsea will have a bearing on Arsene Wenger’s team selection today.
Chelsea strolled to a 5-0 win at home to Stoke yesterday and they were able to rest Eden Hazard in that game. I’m not sure if we can rest any of our players today, but you have to wonder if both Laurent Koscielny and Jack Wilshere are up to so many games in such a short space of time. Koscielny is permanently nursing an Achilles injury while Wilshere is still fragile and the more often he plays the more likely it is for his next injury to come along.
As bad as West Brom have been they are still not an easy team to beat at home and they have only lost three of their 10 home games with six draws and only one win. They have found goals hard to come by with only two teams scoring less goals at home, but our away form is hardly awe inspiring. Since losing at City we are unbeaten in four away games though with two wins and two draws and we even kept clean sheets in two of those games.
I think the manager might well rotate the team a little tonight, but I think it’s crucial that he keeps Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette in the team as they are the match winners we need. I don’t think a point is enough today and the form of Alexis and Ozil in recent weeks is exactly what we need to win this game. Whatever the situation with Alexis’s contract might be I think we cannot afford to be without him as long as he is still an Arsenal player.
West Brom will “put it up us” today by putting the boot in when they can and putting as many balls as possible into our box. It worked for them last season and we all know it could work today too. We need to be strong and continue to play football no matter what they might throw (or kick) at us. The three points are there for the taking and nothing less will do.
That’s it for today.
See you tomorrow.