It was the worst possible week last time out as the Gunners lost quite painfully away to Everton and Manchester City. The ”here we go again” murmurs have resurfaced as we have now gone from being top of the table to 9 points behind leaders Chelsea in the space of 7 days. There is still a long way to go though and we will be hoping to bounce back with a boxing day win over West Brom at the Emirates.
- Arsenal have lost just one of their last 11 Premier League games against West Brom, winning eight of them (D2).
- The Baggies’ only away Premier League win versus Arsenal came in September 2010, as they ran out 3-2 winners at the Emirates (D1 L8).
- The Gunners’ 4-0 defeat to Southampton last season was their heaviest defeat on Boxing Day since 1910 against Manchester United.
- The last time West Brom played Arsenal on Boxing Day was in 2002 – going 1-0 up before losing 2-1 to the Gunners.
- West Brom have lost two consecutive league games played on December 26th; they’ve not three Boxing Day fixtures in a row since 1987.
- Arsenal are the only team to have lost three Premier League matches that they have been leading in so far this season. In 2015-16, they only lost twice in this manner all season.
- The Gunners have lost their last two Premier League games (vs Everton and Man City) – they haven’t lost three successive Premier League matches since January 2012. This is also the last time that they lost as many as three league games in the same month.
- West Brom have won two and lost two of their four games so far in December. The Baggies haven’t won three Premier League matches in the same month since November 2012 (4).
- Matt Phillips has had a hand in seven goals in his last seven Premier League appearances (three goals, four assists).
- Alexis Sanchez has been involved in 18 goals in 17 Premier League appearances for Arsenal this season (12 goals, 6 assists); one more than he managed in 30 league appearances last season (17 – 13 goals, 4 assists).
(Stats Courtesy: Statszone)
Arsenal lost Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to a slight hamstring injury at the Etihad but we are boosted by the return to full training of long term absentees Captain Per Mertesacker and Danny Welbeck. Aaron Ramsey has also returned to training but Mathieu Debuchy and Santi Cazorla remain long term absentees.
James Morrison is an injury doubt for West Brom but Jonny Evans could return after missing the last 2 games.
HOW BOTH TEAMS COULD LINE UP
Arsene Wenger could make a few changes to the starting XI after losing the last 2 games. I expect Petr Cech (He needs to buckle up), Hector Bellerin and Laurent Koscielny to retain their places. However, I think Rob Holding and Kieran Gibbs should replace out of form Gabriel Paulista and the sluggish Nacho Monreal.
Granit Xhaka and Francis Coquelin should retain their places behind the maligned Mesut Ozil. Theo Walcott and Alexis Sanchez should start but i will play a hungry Lucas Perez upfront with them. I feel pity for Olivier Giroud but the movement Alexis brings to the attack should mean that Giroud remains an impact sub for now.
West Brom will start Ben Forster in goal with Gary Mc Auley, Jonas Olsson, Allan Nyom and Chris Brunt in defence. Claudio Yacob, Darren Fletcher should play in midfield. With James Morrison injured, Craig Gardner should play. Matt Phillips, Nacer Chadli and Soloman Rondon will start in attack.
West Brom are doing very well in the league and are presently 8th so, it won’t be easy. But the Arsenal players cancelled their annual christmas party to get their season back on track and they will be fired up for this one. I see Alexis Sanchez taking this game by storm and hopefully, Mesut Ozil will rediscover his early season form. The team needs to be more solid physically to avoid the capitulations that happened in the 2nd half at Everton and Man City. I believe we will win this one albeit not easily because of the pressure to get back to winning ways. There will be nerves but I see us winning 2-0