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August 2021

Arsenal entertain West Brom: the preview

By Phil Gregory

West Brom. One of those games where, last season, you remember exactly where you were when you heard that we were three nil down (if of course, you weren’t fortunate enough to be at the ground or somehow watching it live). I was fresh into my year abroad and only allowed myself a couple of glances at BBC sport to keep a track of the score, given the connection abroad was costing me a tidy sum every time I connected. Seeing we were three nil down, I updated my friend – a fellow Gooner – and we shared a sense of total bafflement at the result.

As Tony said to me in an email in the aftermath of the game, it was “one of those seasons” where freak results occur for everyone. True, Arsenal didn’t play well, and as Walter’s ref analysis pointed out, the referee did a good job and actually got one of the best marks of the season out of all the referees that were reviewed. One of those days, then. It happens, usually when you least expect it, and there is often no real logic explanation behind it.

All that can be done on such days is to stick behind the team and hope they make amends at the next opportunity. Today of course, is an opportunity to put such a result behind us and kick on with our season.

In regards to injuries, the situation is much the same as the Marseille game. Van Persie wasn’t injured but rested, so will certainly be involved. Similarly, I think Koscielny was rested and will come back into the side. For the rest, it is simply a case of as you were.


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The only real debate is between Koscielny, Vermaelen and Mertesacker at centreback. With Koscielny rested, I think he’s likely to come back in, but it’s guesswork as to who will partner him. He has the familiarity built up with Mertesacker, but most would argue that Vermaelen is our best defender, so the sooner we get him incorporated in the defence the better. I think we’ll see a policy of softly, softly with the Belgian so I’m not anticipating him coming in to the eleven for this game.

As for predictions, you’d anticipate three points from this one. Arsenal’s results recently however have been very good and on a couple of occasions luck has been on our side. Often it is at times like this that something happens to bring us back to reality with a bump, so I hope the team approach the game with the utmost professionalism, just in case the luck turns. I’m going to go for a 2-0 win, and will be delighted with three points.

Given Arsenal’s poor start, it is quite the achievement that we have hauled Liverpool’s points advantage over us right in. Unless they improve somewhat over the remaining months (admittedly it is possible as their signings gel further) I can’t see them posing a real problem for fourth and expect such to be clear by Christmas. Against my expectations, Tottenham look like the main challengers for the Champions League spot, and bar something bizarre like Chelsea’s form continuing to deteriorate and 3rd opening up, I think it’ll be a straight fight between Arsenal and Tottenham for fourth place. As I say, I didn’t expect Tottenham to really kick on from last season; perhaps the lack of CL football is benefitting them in the battle compared to last year. Either way, I expect Arsenal to get the CL slot come May, as we always have, so perhaps Tottenham should stop treating the Europa League so disdainfully. A Europa League win is a big deal outside of England, after all, so I’m not entirely sure why it’s treated with such contempt on these shores.

As is seemingly the trend recently, it’s only a snappy preview from me. Essay deadlines loom, so unless I bulk up this article with some debate as to the impact of Wilsonianism on American foreign policy, I’ll have to leave it there for now and get back to my essay!

Enjoy the game Gooners!


5 comments to Arsenal entertain West Brom: the preview

  • Thanks Phil for that piece,if at all you check in my last comments i was telling all the doubting Thomases in those dark days that by January we will be in all the competitions and no one would believe me. But will this be the year!!! Hopefully it will or it will be the same mambo jambo fingers crossed. As of the Champions league i want to assure you Bwana Phil that is already a done deal and the way i see things we might be in the mix with the so called big spenders,mark my words we might nick it. I just wonder what the AAA will look like.

  • One rather nice things this season is that we are starting to find the team selection boring (not your writing Phil!!!) It reminds me of Graham days – for months on end you would know exactly what the team was – same as last week. the only thing to talk about was the bench.

    I’d expect Vermaelen to play, but then, what do I know? I was surprised Koscielny needed a rest – and in fact wondered if he didn’t but Mr W. was testing out Ver and Mert together just to see.

    I’m off to the game at 11am as usual (what with having to travel from the wild wilderness of Northamptonshire) so I leave the debate to others…

  • Don’t curse it Tony – team selection is often a bit of a muddle based on who is injured and who may come back from injury. I for one am quite happy with the certainty!

  • Shakabula Gooner

    Arsenal 3 West Brom 0
    Easy run out; solid game all round.
    Liverpool draws….
    Slowly but surely, PROGRESS!!

  • Gord

    Jenkinson got a nice appraisal by AW after the game. I seen in the news earlier today that Kyle Bartley is healed and back available for Rangers.