By Bulldog Drummond
The question on everyone’s lips is would you support Arsenal if Pulis were made manager?
Actually it isn’t on everyone’s lips as I just made that up. But I find it an interesting ponderable (a new word it seems, but I reckon there needs to be an opposite of imponderable.) Would I still support Arsenal? Oh that is so tough…
West Bromwich Strollers as they used to be known, were once upon a time top ten finishers in the top division – from 1977 to 1981 for example they were indeed in the top ten each year. But 2012/13 has been the only occasion of a top 10 finish since that era in the 70s.
So if they do make it into the top ten this year, it will be quite an achievement, casting the mind back to the post-war (that is post-first-world-war) era when they were quite a force to be reckoned with.
Looking back over the way the two teams have been playing this season we can hazard the guess that Arsenal will dominate possession, and will also use the ploy of taking the ball from the opponents in tackles and interceptions. Quite a nifty ruse that – and a wonder that no one else has come up with it. Anyway that is WhoScored’s interpretation of Arsenal’s technique.
They also suggest that West Brom have figures that show they will create many scoring chances, but that should still not remove the chance for Arsenal to control the game in their half.
Such is the disaster area that awaits any team that is relegated, West Brom have noted that they have already secured their Premier League status for next season. Newcastle, Norwich and Villa went down last season: Newcastle look like they are coming straight back, but Norwich are 23 points off automatic promotion, and Villa 29 – it is easy to get stuck in the abyss for years to come.
But the wobbleyous will be expected to push on and get that elusive top ten finish, and the defeats in the last two games without actually scoring even a consolation goal means they will be pushing harder and harder to show they can mix and match it with the big boys. Elbows and two footed lunges at the ready.
Back to Whoscored – they say that WBA have four main weaknesses: avoiding fouling in dangerous areas, defending against skillful players, aerial duel and (and this is the big one) keeping possession of the ball. Blimey – I never thought that was needed.
So their forecast for the game is that Arsenal will dominate possession, will steal the ball from the opposition very often, and will control the game in the opposition’s half.
What they also do on the WhoScored site – but it is buried in the stats and not that ease to see, is a “per match” statistical analysis, which it is possible to adjust for WBA being at home and us being in far away places. It goes like this:
|WBA home||Event||Arsenal away|
So from that we get a 2-2 draw, with Arsenal having slightly more shots, and corners. On the fouling front it looks evens: two yellows each on 11 fouls each. But it is on possession and pass success that Arsenal come out on top.
Now the usual silly bits of coincidence:
Arsenal have scored in 22 consecutive league matches against West Brom, winning 15 of them, since a 0-0 away draw in November 1985.
If the Wobbleyous lose it will be the first time they have lost three in a row this season. And they have never had three games without scoring (except for the famous Pulis goalless draws) since Pulis took over.
West Brom have won seven of the last nine league matches at home.
Salomon Rondon the top scorer of the Albion with seven has failed to score in all 13 league and cup appearances since his hat-trick against Swansea City on 14 December.
We have lost three PL games in a row before without the end of the world being proclaimed – but the figures give out by some sites on this (including the BBC) are wrong. The last time we did that we did that was in January 2012 when we lost to Fulham, Swansea and Man U each by one goal. The last time we lost three away games in a row was August 2011, against Man U, Blackburn and Tottenham.
We also haven’t looked at the fair play league for a while, so here it is. As I have mentioned before, there are various fair play leagues, each ranking events with different points systems. This one gives one for a yellow and three for a red.
|RANK||CLUB||Yellow Cards||Red Cards||Points|
|West Ham United||63||4||75|
|6||West Bromwich Albion||58||1||61|
And thus and therefore we approach the team. How about this one:
Alexis Ozil Theo
Monreal Koscielny Mustafi Bellerin
That would give us a beach of
- Ospina or Martínez (Ospina may be still suffering from a knock),
- Gibbs or, Jenkinson (again there is one report around of Gibbs being out)
- Gabriel or Holding,
Which is almost a team-full and in fact three surplus to requirements. I think Maitland-Niles, Le Jeff and Xhaka will miss out, but it is a tough call. That’s the problem, when we don’t have the whole team injured we’ve got too many players. The problem for Xhaka is that we are playing a Pulisian team and that spells danger in terms of having a man sent off.
- Ten things to watch out for this weekend in the match at West Brom.
- WBA v Arsenal: Arsenal take on Pulis, the anti-Arsenal mob, the media, and 11 WBA players – all at once.
- The Untold Analysis of Refereeing in the first 16 weeks of the 2016/17 season – all matches
- West Brom v Arsenal Sat 18 March 2017 – The Match Officials