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West Bromwich v Arsenal: this could be dangerous

By Bulldog Drummond

West Brom are in deep trouble at the foot of the table…

Pos Club P W D L F A GD Pts
15 Newcastle United 20 5 3 12 19 30 -11 18
16 Crystal Palace 20 4 6 10 18 32 -14 18
17 West Ham United 20 4 6 10 22 38 -16 18
18 AFC Bournemouth 20 4 5 11 18 31 -13 17
19 West Bromwich Albion 20 2 9 9 14 27 -13 15
20 Swansea City 20 3 4 13 11 31 -20 13

They have sacked their manager, a Mr Pulis, of whom it has often been said, and instead have brought in a Mr Pardew whose recent career also includes Crystal Palace and Newcastle United. On 22 December 2016, Mr P was dismissed as manager of Crystal Palace after a poor run of results.  On  29 November this year he became the WBA manager, following WBA’s 2-2 draw with Newcastle.  His results thus far are shown below (all games in the Premier League).

Date Game Res Score
02 Dec 2017 West Bromwich Albion v Crystal Palace D 0-0
09 Dec 2017 Swansea City v West Bromwich Albion L 1-0
13 Dec 2017 Liverpool v West Bromwich Albion D 0-0
17 Dec 2017 West Bromwich Albion v Manchester United L 1-2
23 Dec 2017 Stoke City v West Bromwich Albion L 3-1
26 Dec 2017 West Bromwich Albion v Everton D 0-0

That is three defeats and three draws.  Prior to that the club had got six draws and ten defeats in the previous 16 games in all competitions.  So that is 22 games in all competitions since their last victory.

That victory was a 3-1 away win against Accrington Stanley in the League Cup, but less it be thought that that is the best they could achieve, it came hard on the heels of league victories against Bournemouth and Burnley.

At that point WBA were above Arsenal

Pos Team Pld W D L F A GD Pts
1 Manchester United 2 2 0 0 8 0 8 6
2 Huddersfield Town 2 2 0 0 4 0 4 6
3 West Bromwich Albion 2 2 0 0 2 0 2 6
4 Watford 2 1 1 0 5 3 2 4
5 Manchester City 2 1 1 0 3 1 2 4
6 Liverpool 2 1 1 0 4 3 1 4
7 Southampton 2 1 1 0 3 2 1 4
8 Everton 2 1 1 0 2 1 1 4
9 Leicester City 2 1 0 1 5 4 1 3
10 Tottenham Hotspur 2 1 0 1 3 2 1 3
11 Arsenal 2 1 0 1 4 4 0 3

Oh what a difference an autumn makes.  As things stand now WBA are three poins from safety.  And as you will have noted, in the Pardewsian era the three draws that have generated the three points gained across the last six games were all goalless, including one against Liverpool, who have just spent the gross domestic product of Narnia on a defender.

So the trick against them must be simple – score early on, meaning they will have to come out and defend rather than entertain their fans with yet another goalless draw.  For quite simply their problem is scoring – in the top table we can see they had achieved two wins in the first two games by scoring two goals, and they remain the second worst scoring team (behind only Swansea) in the league with just 14 goals.  Their defence is midtable, which explains how they have managed to pick up nine draws.

Any way it is 22 games in all competitions without a win (the list includes three Football League Trophy defeats to Walsall, Shrewsbury Town and Coventry City).

But as we have seen so far this season, one of the best indicators of how a match might go is the Home League table for the home team against the away league table for (rather obviously) the away team.  Here’s the home table (lower reaches).

Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
17 Newcastle United 10 3 1 6 9 13 -4 10
18 AFC Bournemouth 10 2 3 5 12 16 -4 9
19 West Bromwich Albion 10 1 6 3 9 14 -5 9
20 Swansea City 10 2 2 6 6 15 -9 8

Arsenal have not had the best of away seasons but things have improved a little of late.  Here is the Away league table

Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts
1 Manchester City 10 10 0 0 25 5 20 30
2 Chelsea 10 6 2 2 18 7 11 20
3 Manchester United 10 5 3 2 19 11 8 18
4 Liverpool 10 5 3 2 27 20 7 18
5 Tottenham Hotspur 10 5 1 4 18 12 6 16
6 Burnley 10 4 4 2 11 11 0 16
7 Watford 10 4 1 5 16 14 2 13
8 Leicester City 10 3 4 3 17 16 1 13
9 Arsenal 10 3 3 4 12 15 -3 12

We have conceded one more away than WBA have at home, and have scored three more away from home than WBA have at home.   That suggests overall it is going to be tight, and places a further need to get the early goal and disrupt their 12 behind the ball (including the ref) policy.

But, Arsenal have been picking up of late and we are seven unbeaten

Date Match Res Score Competition
07 Dec 2017 Arsenal v FC BATE Borisov W 6-0 UEFA Europa League
10 Dec 2017 Southampton v Arsenal D 1-1 Premier League
13 Dec 2017 West Ham United v Arsenal D 0-0 Premier League
16 Dec 2017 Arsenal v Newcastle United W 1-0 Premier League
19 Dec 2017 Arsenal v West Ham United W 1-0 League Cup
22 Dec 2017 Arsenal v Liverpool D 3-3 Premier League
28 Dec 2017 Crystal Palace v Arsenal W 2-3 Premier League

Yes, two of those seven are not Premier League games, and our league form in that table is two wins and three draws in the league.  But we are scoring (six in the last two) and that seems to me to be a rather important point when facing a barn door.

So why might this game be dangerous?

Several reasons.  First it is an obvious candidate for Type III match fixing, if that is going on, and if any other team feels that Arsenal might be getting a bit uppity and thus wants to give a nod to the referee.

Second WBA are wounded animals, and they are most likely going to get a goal sometime, and when they do they will throw everything possible into defending that goal, which means leg breaking fouls might be seen.

Third, a silly mistake by our defence gifting them a goal will mean 11 players and possibly an official in their defence and that can be hard to break down, even without any foul play going on.

We need to score a couple early on.

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4 comments to West Bromwich v Arsenal: this could be dangerous

  • Chris

    Tony,

    the FA’s charity money may still be lost somewhere….the goverment’s money seems to have been accounted for

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/dec/30/olympic-legacy-assets-charities

  • Mandy Dodd

    Agree, an early goal or two will mot go amiss, as ever with some of these refs, might calm some of our defensive nerves as well.
    A lacca goal would be a good thing

  • para

    As long as we keep on making silly mistakes and are panicky we will lose points.

    Its frustrating to see the bad performances with a little flourish of brilliance now and then, we need to treat every game as if its the spuds, go there with the determination to not lose or draw and be focused til the end.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I think that we should stick to our normal game , and let them worry about us. But more shots on goals, please ! Having said that , scoring an early goal would definitely calm our nerves and force them out of their bus.Hopefully our back door is well and truly shut to stop a quick break out.

    If we follow the above , they might just get a spanking brand new manager for the new year !