West Brom will look to boost their outside hopes of a Europa League spot as they host a resurgent Arsenal side in this three o’clock kick-off. The Baggies will be looking to dent the Gunners’ hopes of qualification for Europe’s premier competition for the 16th straight year, as they continue to pursue their London rivals Tottenham and Chelsea. Santi Cazorla and co will be given a stern test in the West Midlands, against a West Brom defence which have conceded just 14 goals at home this season, a figure only bettered by Man City and Chelsea.
With three wins and a draw in their last six outings, the Baggies will want to keep the pressure on Liverpool as they seek Europa League qualification to put a cap on what has been an impressive season for Steve Clarke’s team.
The Gunners managed a straightforward victory the last time the two teams met in December, and West Brom will be counting on Romelu Lukaku and the rest of the West Brom strikeforce to cause more problems to an unreliable Arsenal defence. The 19-year-old striker has impressed at The Hawthorns this season and is the club’s top scorer in the league with 13 goals. Of course, the Belgian international is on loan with the Baggies from Chelsea and could do his parent club a few favours by putting the Arsenal defence to the sword.
With five wins in their last six games however, Arsenal will be confident of victory. Theo Walcott isn’t yet ready to return, so Gervinho will be looking to score in his third consecutive game for the Gunners, while Youssouf Mulumbu will definitely miss out for West Brom after his comical sending-off last weekend.
KICK-OFF: Saturday, 3pm
PAST THREE MEETINGS:
Arsenal 2 (Arteta 2 pens) West Bromwich Albion 0, Premier League, December 2012
West Bromwich Albion 2 (Long, Dorrans) Arsenal 3 (Benayoun, Santos, Koscielny), Premier League, May 2012
Arsenal 3 (Van Persie, Vermaelen, Arteta) West Bromwich Albion 0, Premier League, November 2011
Arsenal have lost just once in their last ten visits to The Hawthorns, winning six.
In terms of home form over the last six games, West Brom sit a humble 13th with three wins, a draw, and two losses.
Despite their leaky reputation, Arsenal have the best defence away from home in the Premiership. They have conceded just 0.87 goals a game away from The Emirates, with 40% of those games ending in clean sheets.
In 129 meetings between the sides, West Brom have an average goal difference of -59.
If results were decided on the second half of matches, Arsenal would be top of the league with 62 points, 6 clear of second-placed Manchester City.
Arsenal have the best disciplinary record in the league this season, with 33 point (27 yellows, 3 reds)
WBA to win: 3.2
Arsenal to win: 0.91
West Brom stunned Arsenal to secure their first away win over the Gunners since 1983. 0-0 at half-time, two goals in three minutes from Peter Odemwingie and Gonzalo Jara put the Baggies in command. Jerome Thomas, a former Arsenal trainee, sealed the win for Roberto Di Matteo’s side with a speculative effort in the 73rd minute, with a late Samir Nasri brace proving a mere consolation for the home team.
TV: Highlights on BBC1 at 10.30pm