Friday, December 14, 2018

Prediction: West Brom vs Arsenal

Verdict: Arsenal to Win

Best Odds: 7/10

Bookmakers: William Hill

Struggling West Brom welcome top four hopefuls Arsenal for the late kick-off on New Year’s Eve. The Baggies currently sit second from bottom, three points from safety, and are having an incredibly disappointing season. The Gunners meanwhile have slipped to fifth, and they need a positive result from this game in order to challenge for their usual fourth spot. That position is currently occupied by Liverpool, who are just one point ahead of Arsene Wenger’s side.

West Brom 

The Baggies started the season off with back-to-back wins, but since then it has all gone down hill. Since the win away at Burnley, West Brom have recorded nine wins and nine draws, and have unsurprisingly plummeted to 19th spot in the table. Even the addition of Alan Pardew as manager has done little to arrest that slide, with three losses and two draws since he took over. As a manager usually known for making an immediate impact and providing a short-term solution, this must be incredibly worrying for fans.

What has been most surprising is their lack of defensive solidity, which has been a staple of Baggies sides over the years. 27 goals conceded in 20 games is by no means as bad as many of the other teams near the bottom – in fact they have the second best defensive record in the bottom half – but they tend not to spend a lot of time in the bottom half. The fact that they have scored an almost embarrassing 14 goals all season has been another big contributor to their fall, and that doesn’t look like changing against what can be a stout Arsenal defence.

Team News

The Baggies don’t have many long-term injuries, but both Nacer Chadli and Salomon Rondon are doubts for Sunday’s game. Chadli seems the more likely to play, while Craig Dawson should return to central defence.

Arsenal 

The Gunners are having a perplexing season, and inconsistency is perhaps the biggest reason behind their slide down the sixth spot in the Premier League table. Arsene Wenger’s men have scored the second fewest goals of any side in the top six, and have conceded the most times of the teams in the top seven. Interestingly Arsenal have let in just two goals fewer than their opponents this weekend West Brom, but 13 place separate the two sides. Recent weeks have been fruitful for the Gunners going forward, and they have found the back of the net six times in the last two games.

Unfortunately across the same two games they have also conceded five times, including shipping two to struggling Crystal Palace last time out. There have been positives this season however, and Arsenal do only sit one point off fourth spot heading into this game. Summer signing Alexandre Lacazette has settled in fairly well, bagging eight goals so far this season, and new wingback Sead Kolasinac looked to be a decent player before being inexplicably dropped by Wenger. The Gunners should have easily enough to beat struggling West Brom, despite their inconsistencies this season.

Team News

Arsene Wenger faces a fairly extensive injury list, with Santi Cazorla being joined by Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey on the sidelines. Nacho Monreal’s ankle injury will likely make him miss this clash too.

Key Factors to Consider

  • West Brom are without a win in their last 19 games in all competitions.
  • The Baggies have conceded five times in their last three league games.
  • Arsenal have not lost in their last seven games in all competitions.
  • The Gunners six times in their last two league games.
  • West Brom have scored just 14 goals in their 20 Premier league games this season.

Conclusion

West Brom have long been a bogey team for many of the top sides, but this season they seem to have capitulated somewhat. With their historically strong defence having disappeared, and the lack of goals continuing to be a problem, this Baggies team is in serious trouble. Arsenal meanwhile have been scoring with ease lately, and they should breeze to a win in this game if their own back line defends like it should.

Verdict: Arsenal to Win

Best Odds: 7/10

Bookmakers: William Hill

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Steeden


Dan is a recent graduate of the University of Birmingham and an often frustrated Wigan Athletic fan. When not despairing at events unfolding at the DW Stadium he can be found fangirling over Antoine Griezmann or staying up into the early hours of the morning to cheer on the Seattle Seahawks.

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