MX23RW : Wednesday, December 12 19:34:05
Mar 18, 2017 at 12.30pm UK at ​The Hawthorns
Attendance: 24,065
West BromWest Bromwich Albion
Dawson (12', 75'), Robson-Kanu (55')
FT(HT: 1-1)
Sanchez (15')

Preview: West Bromwich Albion vs. Arsenal

Sports Mole previews the Premier League encounter between West Bromwich Albion and Arsenal.

West Bromwich Albion head into their Premier League clash with Arsenal at The Hawthorns aware that they must deliver a positive response to back-to-back defeats if they want to hold realistic hopes of achieving seventh place at the end of the season.

As for the Gunners, under-fire Arsene Wenger is aware that he cannot afford to miss out on three points in the West Midlands if he is to ease the pressure surrounding his current contract discussions with the club.

West Bromwich Albion

Tony Pulis calls the shots during the Premier League game between Manchester City and West Bromwich Albion on April 9, 2016© Getty Images

During the opening weeks of the season, there was speculation regarding Tony Pulis's future at West Brom and it appeared inevitable that he would be removed from his position in the dugout with fans calling for his exit.

However, the club's new owners kept faith with the experienced boss and it has been a decision which has been justified with Pulis already guiding the club to the 40-point mark in the table, but he is now in a position where he must ensure that complacency does not creep in ahead of the closing weeks of the campaign.

The Baggies sit in eighth place and can still achieve a Europa League spot with an inspired run until the end of the season, but back-to-back defeats has left them seven points adrift of a free-scoring Everton side and Pulis may already accept that their current position is the best that they can hope for.

That said, there will be an understanding between himself and the owners that rather than consolidation, he needs to improve the team's placing in the standings year upon year, while enhancing their stock on a global scale by performing to a high standard in fixtures such as the one against Arsenal.

Much has been made of the absence of Matt Phillips, who has missed both of their recent setbacks, but the Baggies are where they are in the table because of a collective effort and other members of the first-team squad need to step up over the remaining 11 games.

Striker Salomon Rondon has not scored in 13 games, while Hal Robson-Kanu has been left on the bench for much of his time at the club, and unless one of them finds some form, West Brom will be looking over their shoulder rather than thinking about overtaking Everton.

Recent form: DWDWLL


Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger on the touchline during the Premier League clash with Manchester United at Old Trafford on November 19, 2016© SilverHub

Wenger has endured arguably his most difficult period of his long tenure at Arsenal and with Manchester City to come after the international break, he is in a position where the trip to West Brom is hugely significant.

While Arsenal have reached the FA Cup semi-finals, their best win since the end of January is a victory over Hull City - a result which was considered fortunate given the decisions which went in their favour - and Wenger needs to show the club's supporters that his players are still capable of convincing performances under his guidance.

Confidence is low in North London and matters have not been helped by the contract situations involving Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, but the future will look brighter should Arsenal start to put wins together like earlier in the season.

Many accept that neither Ozil nor Sanchez will want to remain at the club past the end of their current deals but as far as the club is concerned, they need to ensure that they at least earn fourth place in the table by the end of the campaign.

They will do that should they win each of their last 12 contests - which is unrealistic - but they cannot afford to drop any more points, especially ahead of what will be a titanic tussle with City at the Emirates Stadium on April 2.

Rather than relying on his two star players, Wenger will probably look to Theo Walcott to provide his side's biggest threat in attack, with the long-serving attacker having scored in three of his last four appearances.

Recent form: WWLLWL
Recent form (all competitions): WLWLLW

Team News

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is rewarded by Hector Bellerin during the Premier League game between Bournemouth and Arsenal on February 7, 2016© Getty Images

Midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is a doubt for Arsenal as he continues to recover from the hamstring injury sustained against Lincoln City last weekend.

Mohamed Elneny is back in training after missing the last three weeks, but Kieran Gibbs is unlikely to start after picking up a knock.

Pulis is again likely to be without winger Phillips, despite his recent call-up to the Scotland squad for the international games at the end of the month.

The head coach also revealed in his pre-match press conference that James Morrison is considered a huge doubt after suffering a knock in training.

West Bromwich Albion possible starting lineup:
Foster, Nyom, Evans, McAuley, Dawson, Yacob, Livermore, Fletcher, Chadli, Brunt, Rondon

Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Ramsey, Walcott, Iwobi, Ozil, Sanchez

Head To Head

Saturday's match will represent the 138th in which these two teams have met in a competitive fixture, with West Brom previously registering 37 victories in comparison to 70 victories for Arsenal.

However, the Baggies have only recorded one triumph in their last 13 attempts, which came at The Hawthorns in November 2015 when they ran out 2-1 winners.

During the same period, Arsenal have won nine times and been held to a draw on three occasions, while they have prevailed in five of the last six contests.

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We say: West Bromwich Albion 1-3 Arsenal

West Brom have, in general, performed well in front of their own supporters but after they suffered two defeats without scoring a goal, we are backing Arsenal to return to winning ways in a competitive fixture. Champions League qualification is still in their own hands, and we think they will take the first step to achieving a place in the top four with a hard-earned victory.

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Who will win Saturday's Premier League clash between West Brom and Arsenal?

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Theo Walcott celebrates opening the scoring during the Champions League game between Arsenal and Bayern Munich on March 7, 2017
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