West Bromwich Albion manager Steve Clarke believes his side can overcome an in-form Arsenal in Round 3 of the Capital One Cup at the Hawthorns on Wednesday night.
Albion, fresh off a convincing 3-0 win over Sunderland on Saturday, have opened their 2013/14 account with two wins, two draws and two losses. Deuces are wild.
Meanwhile, Arsenal have been absolutely brilliant since their opening day defeat to Aston Villa at the Emirates.
Arsene Wenger, who signed Germany international ace Mesut Özil for a club-record fee — believed to be in the region of £42.5 million — on transfer deadline day, has led the Gunners to seven consecutive wins in all competitions, including notable away wins in the UEFA Champions League against Fenerbahçe and Olympique de Marseille.
England Under-21 international striker Saido Berahino will be hoping that his hat-trick against Newport County in the last round of this competition will convince Steve Clarke to start him over the likes of Nicolas Anelka, Markus Rosenberg, and Shane Long.
Ben Foster and Matej Vydra are — in all likelihood — unavailable for selection, but the aforementioned Shane Long as well as captain Chris Brunt, George Thorne and Zoltan Gera may be fit enough to take part in this one.
The visitors will be without a number of key players on Wednesday, with Abou Diaby, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gedion Zelalem, Lukas Podolski, Santi Cazorla, Tomas Rosicky, Theo Walcott and Yaya Sanogo all sidelined due to injury.
However, Denmark talisman Nicklas Bendtner is expected to feature for the Gunners for the first time since August 2011, while Mikel Arteta could be in contention to make his first start of the season after making a cameo appearance against Stoke last weekend.
Bendtner, who has spent the past two seasons on loan at Sunderland and Juventus, respectively, is 15/8 to score anytime against Albion on Wednesday.
Additionally, new arrival Emiliano Viviano seems likely to start in place of No. 1 Wojciech Szczęsny, with the latter expected to get the nod when Arsenal travel to the Liberty Stadium to take on Swansea City at the weekend.
Clarke: “We can be dangerous underdogs. As a team the last two performances have been good.
“Arsenal at home is a difficult game – it’s a good game.
“I’ve got a nice squad of players who all want to play. It’s up to me to get the right mix on the pitch on Wednesday.”
Wenger: “It’s just down to attitude and fighting [spirit] and when he has that, Nicklas can be an unstoppable striker. He gets his chance. Our job is about that, take your chance.
“Fans forgive you everything as long as you produce the performances on the football pitch. That’s what people want. I think our fans have a positive attitude towards Bendtner and they will be behind him. Only you can create that with your performances.”
West Bromwich Albion 1 – Arsenal 4 (28/1)
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