West Bromwich Albion v Arsenal: Premier League Match Preview
West Bromwich Albion host Arsenal in the Premier League at The Hawthorns this afternoon (4.30pm kick-off UK time).
This will be the first time West Brom have ever played Arsenal on New Year’s Eve.
The Baggies go into today’s match in 19th position in the Premier League table, with 15 points from 20 matches.
West Brom’s winless run now stretches to 18 Premier League matches after their 0-0 home draw with Everton on Boxing Day.
It is the worst streak in the division since Aston Villa failed to win in 19 game between August 2015 and January 2016.
It’s a run of results that cost Tony Pulis his job as manager.
His replacement Alan Pardew was appointed on the 2 December and is seeking to steer West Brom to their first victory in a Premier League game since 19 August – a 1-0 victory at Burnley.
West Brom are without a win in six games (D3, L3) since Pardew took over, scoring just twice.
The Baggies have equalled their club Premier League record for most defeats in a single calendar year – 19 in 2014.
Arsenal go into today’s match in 6th position in the Premier League, with 37 points from 20 matches.
The 3-2 win over Crystal Palace on Thursday was only Arsenal’s third on the road in the league this season.
Arsenal have won two of their last six league matches, drawing three and losing one.
They could win back-to-back league games for the first time this season.
Arsenal’s tally of 50 goals conceded is their most in a calendar year in the top flight since 1984, when they let in 57.
The most recent game between the two teams was back in September when an Alexandre Lacazette brace handed Arsenal a 2-0 win at the Emirates Stadium.
The last meeting at The Hawthorns, however, was a 3-1 win for Albion in March thanks to a couple of Craig Dawson goals and a Hal Robson-Kanu strike despite Alexis Sanchez’s early opener.
That result meant that West Brom had won their last two home league matches against Arsenal, as many as they had in their previous 23 against them at The Hawthorns.
Arsenal have scored in all 23 of their Premier League matches against West Brom, the best such 100% record in the competition.
Arsenal have kept just one clean sheet from their last nine visits to The Hawthorns in all competitions.
There hasn’t been a goalless draw between the sides since way back in November 1985 – a run stretching back an incredible 28 games.
The Baggies will be looking to the experienced Ben Foster, Jonny Evans, Gareth Barry and Chris Brunt to steer them away from the relegation zone.
Gareth McAuley will make his 200th Premier League appearance for the Club if he plays any part today.
Want-away Alexis Sanchez has scored three goals in his last two Premier League appearances. Sanchez has scored three goals in his last four Premier League games against West Brom. Whether he will still be at the club after the January transfer window remains to be seen.
Jack Wilshere fresh from his man-of-the-match performance against Crystal Palace could start five consecutive Arsenal league matches for the first time since a run of six between September to October 2013.
After an unbeaten three-match start in the Premier League against Arsenal (W2 D1 L0), Alan Pardew has failed to win any of his following 12 against them (W0 D3 L9).
“We need to deliver with a risk-taking agenda. You can’t win games if you don’t take risks and this team was definitely on low-risk football.
“I’m trying to change that and we’re definitely taking more risks now. I think that will reward us in the goalscoring column and hopefully not hurt us where we’ve been really tight. We’ve had three clean sheets since I’ve been here. We’re really sound at the back.
“Our last two performances – although we haven’t got the win – have been strong. Almost since the second half against Manchester United – we turned a corner that second half – we look a lot more settled.
“The quality coming back to me – Dawson, Phillips, Brunt – they make a big difference to this starting XI. They’re all fit and available so we’re starting to see signs that we can make some progress.
“What I’ve found is a club that’s well run, well organised with a good set of professionals that’s just down on confidence a little bit, down on momentum. Trying to change that has been difficult but we’re starting to show real signs of that if I’m honest.
“I had instant success at other clubs but not so here, yet you probably wouldn’t find a club with better infrastructure or a better group in terms of camaraderie and togetherness. If we can just get a result, get some momentum and confidence, I think we could do quite well.”
Wenger will be in charge for a record 811th match in the Premier League this afternoon. He will overtake Sir Alex Ferguson, whose 810th and final Premier League match was a 5-5 draw against West Brom at The Hawthorns.
“That I had a positive influence on the club’s life, that I worked in accordance to the values that were important to me and important to the club, that I respected that and I worked with complete commitment and integrity. That’s basically it. Also that the club didn’t suffer on a major setback during my period, but moved forward.”
West Bromwich Albion
Nacer Chadli is likely to miss the first two months of the new year with a recurrence of a thigh injury.
Salomon Rondon,is likely to miss out the hamstring injury picked up in the match with Everton on Boxing Day.
James Morrison remains out with an Achilles injury.
Nacho Monreal (ankle), Aaron Ramey (hamstring) and Olivier Giroud (hamstring) all remain out.
Referee: Mike Dean
Assistants: Simon Long, Ian Hussin
Fourth official: Chris Kavanagh
Arsenal to win 2-0.