The Untold match preview: WBA – Arsenal

By Phil Gregory

A disappointing result against Manchester United in the FA Cup feels a long time ago but the fixture list reveals it was in fact last Saturday. This slower life is something the Arsenal fan will have to get used to: with our involvement in the cups over for this season, we’ll have very few midweek games from here on out. While that’s an undoubted advantage during the Premier League run-in, the concern remains that recent results will have hit the team’s moral heavily, something that could certainly damage our title prospects unless rectified with a good result.

The chance for securing that result is of course, this weekend away at West Brom , a side who haven’t been doing too badly recently. Their last eight games have yielded two wins, two losses and four draws, which is solid mid table form. That said, the results have included some fairly weak teams, the sort of sides West Brom should be beating if they want to climb away from trouble. At home this season West Brom haven’t been a pushover and have only been beaten four times at the Hawthorns this season.

On the injuries front, Fabregas is out of this tie and should be back after the international break while Walcott is still not available. Djourou’s situation was subject to some confusion this season, with the Swiss FA stating they thought he’d only miss four weeks.  Wenger cut the hopes of Arsenal fans short in his pre-match conference stating Johan is out for at least six weeks. The season has also been confirmed as over for Vermaelen, news which combined with Djourou’s absence leaves us decidedly light at the back. Undoubtedly some will take this as a reason to lambast the manager but even in January Vermaelen’s continued absence couldn’t be anticipated. Scouring the world for another quality acquisition in the mould of Koscielny and Vermaelen was always going to be a tall order in January and the best we can hope for is our remaining centre backs stay fit for the rest of the season.

The only remaining injury concerns are Diaby and Song, the latter with a knee injury that worryingly doesn’t have a known return date yet.

Taking those into account, I’m expecting a line-up along the lines


Sagna Squillaci Koscielny Clichy

Denilson Wilshere


Nasri Van Persie Arshavin

Almunia continues in goals despite the re-signing of Jens Lehmann, with the German likely to appear on the bench. The back four is pretty much as expected, with both fullbacks available and Squillaci replacing the injured Djourou. I’m hoping for a bit of a change in the midfield, with Ramsey coming in for the injured Diaby and Denilson playing a deeper role. Denilson is a certainty to play that deeper role but there is a debate to be had between Rosicky and Ramsey. I would go with the latter given his promising performances before his injury and relatively uninspiring displays from Rosicky thus far.

The attack is likely to be fairly predictable.  Van Persie plays centre forward, flanked by Nasri and Arshavin.

This game is really just a matter of getting the three points for Arsenal. It’s interesting to be to be talking in such terms when we are undoubtedly the form side in the league in terms of points taken recently, but the cup exits have raised questions about our title credentials. West Brom shouldn’t cause us difficulties given their penchant for a fairly open game, but they have tightened up since Hodgson took the reins.

Even given the team out (five first teamers unavailable, and many of the stand-ins aren’t even second choice) we should have enough to overcome West Brom, but I expect a few nerves amongst the side with recent results in mind. The loss of Djourou will be the most concerning for Arsenal fans but West Brom’s forward line and play style aren’t particularly aerially threatening so we should get by. I’m expecting a close fought 2-0 win – much will depend on the performance of the central attacking midfielder and whether they can provide us with adequate cutting edge. If Ramsey/Rosicky struggle we might find ourselves struggling to create good chances.

20 Replies to “The Untold match preview: WBA – Arsenal”

  1. i hope aaron starts too. could be the start of something amazing. perhaps we’l look back at this game after winning the prem as the start of the jack/aaron era. i believe they both are a higher level along with cesc, robin, samir and andrey. though the latter almost didnt make it as im not a fan of his defensive work at times. and i would bet that he would be more eager than thomas to shoot and be more accurate from what i have seen.

    plus im delighted we have a german in the ranks again. wish we had more. because a pot of soup can boil without ever spilling over.

  2. If Roy thinks a draw is enough, then we can expect a bus in front of their defense, and that’s gonna be a real problem for us. I’m hoping Rambo will start. He’s more direct than Diaby or Tomas.

    We have a very good chance of winning the Title. Let’s not spoil it.

  3. Well, the way I see it, the next 3 games are the most important to our title challenge, even more so than the game against Man Utd. Drop points, and we’ll probably have our campaign derailed against Pool and Spurs, but win and we might be out of sight by the time we face United. Especially given they have CL and FA Cup matches against Chelsea and City.

  4. iam not happy with our coach because use of the continuous loose of the match so the should look 4 the better ways of bringing up his team

  5. @slim i think you are right, the next 3 game will decide our hope of wining silverware this season because man u av to play chelsea 3 and man city .1 in april

  6. Agreed Dark Prince. Any win will do – even if it is a flukiest 91st min deflection (though I’m not sure I could handle the strain of that kind of win).

  7. does a leopard change its spots? Wenger will not clear out the dross like Diaby, Denilson and Eboue. Who will he bring in as no2 when Pat Rice retires this season? As for the defensive strategy dont tell me he had one at the start of the season. Almunia and Flappy were first choice and Wenger had his money on Flappy. Who turns out to be worse than Almunia. As for the centre halves -why buy Kos and Squash when we needed experienced class not some one in development like Kos. Next season he should bring back players like Lansbury and a few other on loan – dump the dross and take a plunge on a new striker (flog Bendtner and Rosicky) another older experienced DM and still get another CH i.e. flog Squashy. I have an awful feeling Verm is going to keep being injury prone and we need another CH. Lastly I bet you can sleep safe as Wenger will still be in the job next season even if we fail to win anything but nothing will change cos Wenger doesnt think he is doing anyting wrong. In any walk of life this is the sign of someone on the path to failure!

  8. Unfortuantely Wenger needs a wake up call on leadership. What does “collective expression” mean? Another Wenger reference to an ideal that doesnt exist. Let me give Wenger an escape route on another piece of nonsense he has spurted. There used to be a British expression of “11 leaders or captains” on the pitch to refer to a team with character and fighting spirit throughout the team. If thats Wenger’s substitute for not have strong leaders then he is again wrong on that point. This team does not have any leaders never mind 11 on the pitch. Wenger totally underestimates the real meaning of spirit. Thats why a crap Birmingham team can beat us or a so called “park the bus” Manure side. They have spirit and guts. Excuses, excuses from the man!

  9. Are the shameful performances of the last few weeks all part of Wenger’s grand plan as some shysters would have us believe? When will we arrive in the promised land when we dont lose to Birmingham or get torn apart by Manure? Or we have so much money that we able to buy the equal of Messi and stick him in the reserves. Blah, blah, blah. What the Spinners choose to ignore is that football is 11 men against 11 and that the tactics and motivation of the better manager plays a massive part in what happens in a game. The Spinner wants us to move on and forget every defeat no matter how bad cos its all part of the bigger picture – losing doesnt matter if you follow Wenger. You can kid yourself that we were robbed or that its all the fault of other clubs cos they cheat and spend money or have tactics for a game. Wenger is like a bad politician, in constant denial and lacking the honesty to admit and address his failings. Ask the Spinners what is success for AFC and they will say financial solvency – nothing else! They dont feel the passion of the real fan. The say they are rational. What’s rational about what Wenger has done? The Spinners dont want to talk football they try to undermine posters – classic approach as they know their arguement is bankrupt. One apprentice Spinner even lied about being at a game but tells others about the atmosphere. Ah well what’s the point about “losing in a few competitions” against the long term future of the club. Wenger couldnt have put it better himself!

  10. Mikeyb, I think you use the word shamefull performances a bit uncorrect.
    I think you mean to say shamefull results. Why don’t you just say “results” when you mean results.
    In fact what is shamefull of losing a final? Those things happen. When in that cup final the opposing goal keeper gets the man of the match award this means that he is considered the main reason why they won and we lost. So a painful result and I am not going to say we played our best football but even when playing not at our best with an less inspired goalkeeper we would have won the game.
    Barcelona? As long as it was 11 vs 11 we were qualified. Only the ref stepping in and sending a player off the field changed the result. If you want to use the word shamefull when speaking of this game it should apply to the ref.
    MU? Again the shameful part was just the final result. We had more shots on goal, more possession and once again the keeper was man of the match. In fact how many times does the MU keeper becomes man of the match at Old Traford?
    Sunderland? We should have won this game with 2-0 of the officials had done their job proper.

    So I ask you apart from the painful results, what was so shameful about our performance? And remember it is you that used the word “shameful performance” to judge our team, not me.

  11. I think you were spot on with your prediction Phil. Just we conceded two goals from which one was certainly avoidable. And this is a big understatement. What was Almunia doing there?? And if as a keeper you come that far, you must make sure you get the ball and if needed run through your own defender but not doing it like he did.

  12. The good thing is they started a real fight after that second goal and got a point.

  13. How many times does Almunia have to loose his place to Jens Lehmann for it to sink in ?

    Thank God the mad fella is back I hope he gets a chance next week in goal. Too little too late today. ManUtd hard game in europe during the week and still win.

    Very dissapointing …..

  14. Typical Arsenal. Play like poo…go 2-0 down and finally Wenger makes ATTACKING changes. REAL attacking changes. Bring in the 2 big guys and start crossing the ball in and BAM! 2 goals in ten minutes. Of course once the second goal went in we stopped fighting and settled for the draw. Once you see the Arsenal players start appealing for penalties before the ball is even out of the box you know they’re satisfied with the point. We were satisfied losing to Barcelona because of being down a man, we were satisfied losing to Manure in FA Cup because we “fought hard”, satisfied losing to Birmingham because “those things happen”…and we will be satisfied with finishing second because as Wenger put it, “We weren’t even supposed to finish in the top 4 this season”.

  15. Did Wenger say that?
    So the second best supported team in the league that makes money in its sleep (the megastore, international matches featuring Brazil, years and years of playing in the ‘Champions’ League, TV revenue that the likes of Barnet and Orient can only dream of) wasn’t supposed to finish second (possibly), third (probably) or fourth (again, possibly).
    No one told the bookies.
    What price would you have got on AFC ‘not’ finishing in the Top 4?
    Who was going to finish there?
    Wigan Athletic!

  16. Wenger was talking from the perspective of the critics, trying to minimize the damage of going out in 3 competitions. He used it as an excuse. Just because he was referencing someone’s quotes, the mere fact he used it to deflect the criticism of the team’s failure. It’s evidence that this team is okay with failure. That this team isn’t about self belief, they are okay with excuses being made for them. Lots of weak personalities in the team, with very little ambition. They change their expectations at the whim of criticism and praise. Some days they can win the League, other days they will win it next year, and some other days they were unlucky.

  17. Stop dreaming- relieve yourselves of this expectation of winning. Yeah we should do better- if we’d played WBA a month ago we would have smashed them.
    This season we will win Fuck all. But the world does not stop at the end of the season. (Not according to the Mayan calendar anyway).
    The truth is this season has shown us a lot of positives – Wiltshere and Djourou have performed way above expectations certainly mine. Both are top top players. Chesney has shown he has real ability and Nasri is a player. Arshavin is coming back to form. Clichy is not as bad as last year and Sagna is solid. Walcott is a massively important player for us- still a young player. Cesc is tired after the world cup but still a potential world beater when fully fit in this side. A fit RVP is world class. Fabregas needs another season here then he can go back home. Go back now and he may not even be a bench warmer. Lansbury has shown he can be useful next season in a key position.
    If the club can learn from this years’ experience we will improve if they don’t and continue to promote players who are seriously crap, buy young kids only and use the transfer market only to sell players then we will fail again next year- and failure is what it is- it brings consequences for the Board and every one connected with the club.
    The club needs at least one more star player and he needs to be bought- yes bought- a player who knows what you need to do to win a trophy. Up front or in midfield. If he is worth having he will cost. He is not the only one – we need to buy to make sure the spine of the team is stronger and can survive unexpected injuries.
    Dare I say it the pressure needs to be taken off AW- because a lot of Arsenal people have turned against him- and the Board- and their frustration is justified.

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