Arsenal vs West Brom: Team News And Predicted Starting 11.

Morning, folks.

Did you have a good Christmas? I certainly did – a day that was a blur of cooking, presents, trivial pursuit, cider, excessive consumption and bunnies scampering about and sh*ting at an incredible rate (Seriously.. it’s unfathomable just how many times a little bunny will sh*t in the space of half an hour. Mercifully, their poos are inoffensive little brown spheres that carry no odour whatsoever and can be removed with ease). Amongst a great deal of wonderful gifts, I’m lucky enough to have a girlfriend that is incredibly kind and generous. After a short game of answering various clues to unearth my gift, I was presented with a trip to Amsterdam – a city I’ve always wanted to visit. All in all, ’twas a fabulous day.

Anyways… On to football and the Arsenal.

Today we try to get back on the horse. We had successfully navigated a long period on the horse, almost looking like we could stay the distance perched in a good position and perhaps even win the race. Then we fell off. Twice. And both times we shouldn’t have. There’s an opinion that suggests poor officiating was responsible for those defeats. Whilst it’s difficult to disagree that some of the refereeing in our past 2 games has been bloody awful, the blame lies with the team. We fell off the horse on account of our own doing, not anyone else’s. In the moment we needed to perform under a little pressure, we did not.

So a home game against a team we should comfortably dispatch has come at a good time. We’re on our own turf and we have a stronger team than West Brom. However, we’re facing a Tony Pulis team and Tony Pulis’ teams invariably have a good method of frustrating Arsenal. Those instances do occur far more often when we are playing away from home, but it’s not going to be a cake walk today. Arsenal are at their most vulnerable at home when the fans are disgruntled on the back of perceived failings. The atmosphere could go very sour very quickly today if we don’t get off to a good start. Taking a lead as soon as possible will be vital. Should the score remain tied heading into the final 30 minutes, the pressure is going to ramp up and the frustration of the fans becomes more evident.

The teams news is similar to the previous week. Mustafi, Ramsey and Cazorla still remained injured and whilst Danny Welbeck has returned to full training, he is some distance from being fit enough to feature in a game. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is also missing thanks to recent hamstring troubles. It’s possible Arsene could change things around in the wake of back-to-back losses. Given the physicality of West Brom in defence, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Alexis rested in favour of the more combative Giroud. Taking into account some of Monreal’s recent displays not being in keeping with his high standards, Kieran Gibbs could also feature from the start. I would expect to see something different today.

If Arsenal come out of the blocks with a point to prove and get an early goal, I can’t see anything other than a home win. Salomon Rondon is a dangerous player for West Brom and a big threat in the air. We’ll need our wits about us during set pieces and corners. Our enemy today is complacency. Our opponents shouldn’t be underestimated and we need to adopt the mentality that we have to earn victory, not just expect it to come easily. I’ve sat in the Emirates during these times and seen/heard how quickly the animosity can come to the forefront. Keep the crowd happy and play the football we’re capable of and we’ll win today. I’m going to predict 3-0.

That’s all for today. The comments await your thoughts below. I’ll be back soon to discuss all the talking points of the game. Until that time, and as always: thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.

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