West Brom v Arsenal

Arsene Wenger

Barclays Premier League

Venue:
The Hawthorns
Date:
Saturday, 6 April

Arsenal look set to have to wait a little while longer for the return of Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott.

The pair are back in training but Gunners assistant boss Steve Bould has said they only have an "outside chance" of being involved at West Brom.

The Baggies are without Youssouf Mulumbu, who begins a three-match ban for his red card at West Ham last week.

However, his unavailability is offset by the return to fitness of James Morrison after a hamstring injury.

MATCH PREVIEW

Arsenal return to the ground where they clinched Champions League qualification on the final day of last season, looking for a repeat victory to keep this season's fight on course.

With eight games left to play, I'm sure Arsene Wenger hasn't ruled out third and fourth place being decided by the final matches again in this campaign.

He will be encouraged by his team's current run of consistent results. The Gunners have won five of their last six Premier League matches and taken 19 points from the last 24, a total only bettered by leaders Manchester United in the same period.

Their one defeat was to Tottenham in the North London derby, one which some felt could derail them. Their response though, including the performance in Munich, has shown great character.

I watched them recently at Swansea where they weren't at their best and with 15 minutes to go were only drawing 0-0. They dug deep to win 2-0, producing the type of performance that indicated they aren't going to give up their usual top-four finish without a fight.

It's those qualities that will be required in the remaining matches if they are to maintain Arsene Wenger's record of always delivering Champions League football. They will certainly need to be on form at The Hawthorns, where only four teams have won all season.

The Baggies won't want, and don't deserve, their impressive campaign to fade away. Steve Clarke's first season in management has been very impressive.

They haven't been out of the top nine all season and it would be a travesty if they didn't now finish there, which would be their highest placing of the Premier League era.

To indicate the giant strides they've made under Clarke, if they were to beat Arsenal it would take them to 47 points, the same total with which The Baggies have ended the last two campaigns.

MATCH FACTS

Head-to-head

  • West Brom have won just two of the 13 meetings between the sides in the Premier League, with their only home victory coming in October 2005.
  • Arsenal needed a pair of penalties from Mikel Arteta to win the reverse fixture at the Emirates earlier this season.

West Brom

  • West Brom's home record this season is the sixth best in the Premier League (W9, D2, L4). At this stage last year they were the 17th best (W4, D2, L9) on their own patch.
  • The Baggies have yet to come from behind at half time to win a game this season (D1, L9).
  • They have won one of their last four league games and just three in 12 in the Premier League since back-to-back wins over the festive period.
  • However, they need just one more win to set an outright club record of 14 Premier League victories in a single season.

Arsenal

  • The Gunners are the best in the Premier League at defending winning positions. They have surrendered only four points this season.
  • Arsenal also have the best second-half record in the Premier League, outscoring their opponents on 17 occasions and only being outscored twice.
  • Gervinho's goal against Reading means he had scored in back-to-back Premier League matches for the first time.
  • Santi Cazorla has scored four times in his last five league games.

Top Stories