Darren Fletcher is confident Saido Berahino has the character to bounce back from his weekend penalty nightmare when West Brom visit faltering Arsenal on Thursday.
West Brom slipped to a 1-0 defeat against Watford at The Hawthorns, with Tony Pulis’ men left to rue two Heurelho Gomes saves from Berahino penalties in the second half.
The result represented a third loss in four Premier League matches for West Brom – a run that leaves them 14th in the table.
Pulis backed Berahino to recover quickly from his personal disappointment after the match, and Fletcher echoed those sentiments ahead of a trip to Emirates Stadium.
“He’ll be down because it’s a lot of responsibility but he showed great courage taking the second one,” Fletcher told The Express and Star.
“All strikers want to score but he’ll be back and if there’s another penalty, trust me, he’ll be there to take it.
“There’s no blame, these things can happen, his disappointment will be enough. But I’m sure he’ll put the next one away. Saido’s got a lot of character and he’ll definitely respond.”
The trip to north London arguably comes at a good time for West Brom, with Arsenal reeling from back-to-back draws against West Ham and Crystal Palace, having surrendered the lead on both occasions.
Alexis Sanchez gave Arsenal the advantage in Sunday’s clash with Palace, only for Yannick Bolasie’s second-half strike to earn Alan Pardew’s men a share of the spoils.
The result all but ended Arsenal’s already slim hopes of catching league leaders Leicester City, and Arsene Wenger’s men are how 13 points off the pace in fourth with just five matches remaining.
Arsenal’s 2-1 defeat at The Hawthorns in November exemplified a season which has seen them struggle for consistency – that loss coming on the back of a six-match unbeaten run in the league.
Moreover, the club from the Midlands have picked up points on the road against Liverpool, Chelsea and Leicester this season, and captain Fletcher is optimistic they can do the same again at Arsenal.
“We’ve really raised our game and performed well. There’s no doubt it suits our counter-attacking style,” he added.
“The bigger games suit that because there’s not so much of an emphasis on you with the ball. But at the same time you have to be better on the ball like we were against Manchester City.
“There are opportunities for you if you do play and are brave enough to retain the ball and get three or four passes up. It’s amazing how quickly the pitch opens up.
“We know how difficult these games will be, but we go into them with no fear.”
Jack Wilshere has been continuing his comeback from a fractured ankle with Arsenal’s Under-21 side, but is not yet fit enough to return to first-team action, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee) and Santi Cazorla (Achilles) remain sidelined.
Pulis is still unable to call upon Alex Pritchard (thigh), Chris Brunt (knee) and James Morrison (hamstring).
Key Opta stats:
– Arsenal are currently on 499 Premier League victories – only Manchester United (583) have won more in the competition.
– Saido Berahino has scored just four goals in 28 Premier League appearances this season, after netting 14 in 2014-15.
– Alexis Sanchez has scored or assisted seven goals in his last six Premier League games (four goals, three assists) after delivering just one in his previous 10.
– West Brom have averaged lower than a goal a game under Tony Pulis in the Premier League (0.98 – 50 goals in 51 games).
– Arsenal have won just four of their last 13 Premier League games (W4 D6 L3), only one more victory than West Brom in their last 13 PL matches (three wins).