WBA v Arsenal. Past events, match overload, present team, have a great party.

By Bulldog Drummond

This will be match number 140 between these two teams, the first such game being 23 February 1901, a 0-1 home defeat for Woolwich Arsenal in the FA Cup.  Since then Arsenal have won 71 of the games, West Brom 38 and 30 have been drawn.

The bulk of the WBA victories came early on (Arsenal won only one of the first six matches) and even in the glorious 1930s West Brom were able to put a three match winning run together, and a run between 1931 and 1933 in which Arsenal only won one game in six.

But then betweeen 1979 and 1983 they went nine without winning, and after one win went another ten without repeating the trick.  A format that looks a bit like Crystal Palace’s matches against us.

However in the last couple of years they have had a mini-revival after a ten match streak without a win (and only two draws).  Here is the most recent run.

Date Match Res Score Competition
21 Nov 2015 West Bromwich Albion v Arsenal L 2-1 Premier League
21 Apr 2016 Arsenal v West Bromwich Albion W 2-0 Premier League
26 Dec 2016 Arsenal v West Bromwich Albion W 1-0 Premier League
18 Mar 2017 West Bromwich Albion v Arsenal L 3-1 Premier League
25 Sep 2017 Arsenal v West Bromwich Albion W 2-0 Premier League

So we clearly do need to establish something of a run, less these baggies start thinking that beating the Arsenal on their home patch can be a regular occurrence.  Two wins for them in two is a bit much

Looking at the sort of game we can expect the most stand out statistic is concerning the number of times the ball is touched….

Arsenal have touched the ball 16,385 times so far this season according to official Premier League statistics while WBA have touched it 10,651 times – only 65% of the number of times Arsenal have achieved the feat.  In fact WBA touch the ball fewer times per match on average than any other team.

What this means is that Arsenal’s recent run of having 65% or 70% of the possession is going to be continued.

Not surprisingly West Brom also make the smallest number of passes of any team in the league – 6833, against Arsenal’s figure of 12624.  The only team who pass it more than we do is Manchester City – and we are getting on for double the number of passes that WBA produce per match.

Of course part of their problem is the long ball game – whacking it upfield can work with the team charging forwards en masse in the style of a bunch of thugs, or Stoke as the common name has it, but without the right players the tactic doesn’t always come off.

This style of approach can result (when the referee is looking in the right direction) in a number of yellow cards and it is not surprising to find that WBA has 41 yellows this season, a number only beaten by the up-and-at-em-elbows-out approach of State Aid United.

Now one way to cut the number of yellows is to have refereeing decisions go your way, but that seems not to be happening (quite possibly other methods are being used or WBA’s approach is so outrageous that the yellow do have to be given).  It may however explain Chelsea’s 23 yellows so far while  Arsenal are on 28 yellows.  Although we might note that WBA has only one red so far this season.

West Brom also don’t shoot very often (195 times – just under 10 times a game compared to nearly 18 times a game for Arsenal), but then they are pretty mid table in tackling too – and given the sort of game they are playing one might expect them to be dishing out the tackles all the time.

So overall it looks like a team that doesn’t really know where it is going and what it is doing, or come to that what it would actually like to do.  But they have a new manager and he could be about to make some significant changes, so caution is needed.  And an early goal.

Now if we look at the number of games played of late, we have eight games in 24 days – one in every three days in fact…

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

I would not be surprised to see more use made of Arsenal II in this match, since they have only had two games in  the period whereas the Arsenal I team have played six.   There is certainly a case to say that Calum Chambers could keep his place in the side after doing ok with Wilfried Zaha.

But not only do we not know Mr Wenger’s view on the rotations, and who he sees as getting tired after so many games, we also don’t know the format.  We could try this…


Chambers, Mustafi, Koscielny;

Bellerin, Xhaka, Wilshere, Kolasinac;

Ozil,           Alexis


Or it could also be…


Bellerin, Holding, Mustafi, Maitland-Niles

Coquelin,      Elneny

Walcott    Ozil    Iwobi


It is not just a case of which format (three central defenders or two) but also what sort of a rest players need.  I quite like the idea of Coquelin and Elneny in midfield against a team like WBA, but we could also have


Bellerin, Holding, Mustafi, Maitland-Niles

Coquelin, Elneny

Welbeck     Ozil    Alexis


Because I don’t have a clue (no change there) I can’t even put up a beach – and besides everyone knows the West Mids (or is it the Black Country, I am never quite sure with West Bromwich) is nowhere near the sea.  So here is the squad who appear to be more or less fit…

Cech, Ospina, Mertesacker, Holding, Mustafi, Koscielny, Chambers, Debuchy, Bellerin, Nelson, Kolasinac, Maitland-Niles, Coquelin, Wilshere, Xhaka, Elneny, Ozil, Iwobi, Sanchez, Welbeck, Walcott, Lacazette.

And that I think is about it from the team for this year.  Walter has a New Year’s Eve party to go to (and you have to remember it is already tomorrow in Belgium) and so can’t do the post match report, so you’ll have to make do with this piece.

Tony will be back tomorrow looking back on 10 years of Untold Arsenal.  And quite possibly this match.

Happy New Year; have a great evening.

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31 Replies to “WBA v Arsenal. Past events, match overload, present team, have a great party.”

  1. At least there won’t be planes flying over the stadium this season ! At least I hope not !

  2. I’d give Debuchy a game at RB thereby giving Bellerin a rest and probably give the trio of Ainsley, Maitland and Niles another game in midfield. I think it a great bonus that we get three for the price of one!

  3. i’m curious why would you like Coquelin and Elneny in midfield, especially against the team like WBA
    they are both aren’t very inventive in attack, and WBA have one of the best defensive records, so cracking them would be hard

  4. I thought of the two defenders in the centre of midfield to ensure that WBA don’t sneak a goal and then play a completely defensive game – especially with this referee.

    Incidentally, Ozil is injured.

  5. The first game of a long string of records….

    Yep this is the first one
    Every game from now on Arsen Wenger and Arsenal will be breaking a new record every PL game…
    811 today, 812 the next one and so on….

    Hail to one hell of a coach, manager, man

  6. Wonder what today’s City game will cost the PL.
    Jesus and de Buyne injured, transfer window just opening, they are going to buy buy buy
    Considering what Pool! just spent on one defender, wonder how expensive players are going to be with the inflation City will most probably be fueling.
    Guess we can expect an impressive offer for Alexis

  7. Pep complaining about PGMOL not protecting his players. Obviously his City wallet does not insure against tough southern Palace challenges.

    It’s the same old ‘In their Faces’ approach used by skillfully challenged teams that has City close to a first loss this season. Having been there for the last 17 years, with our superb Arsenal football players, I sympathize.

    Come on Arsenal lets end this year with a display of super football & a win.

  8. WBA on the physical violation spree under Dean already. Cech elbowed in the lunch box. & Mustafi in the head. Elbows not visible to Dean

  9. Menace,

    did not see the game, but with four yellows, I guess City did not play just ball, did they ?
    As for his worries, well welcome to PL winter season…..

    Wann bet Alexis could be still worth 50 million to them come January ?

  10. Chris – agreed but City under Pep do not do nasty tackles.

    Dean just showing his mettle with bent officiating.

  11. If anybody had any doubts about how we are systematically robbed by Dean an his cohorts then today is surely the day those doubts are forever dispelled.

  12. What a load of rubbish. Play like that and its a wonder we did not lose.
    Oh Arsenal where art thou?

    Players come to Arsenal and perform well, then in a few weeks they seem to lose that spark they had when they first come. They then become sub standard. Is it the training i begin to wonder? There is no togetherness, no determination, where does it all go?

    To struggle to get a goal, and then to draw from a penalty(yes the Dean has struck again) but that is no excuse, this is no new thing, we are sorely lacking in our play and performances.

    Oh Arsenal where art thou?

  13. Para

    I haven’t posted for ages because this site is infested by dickheads like you.

    I just wish you would fuck off, but alas you wont.

    All you will do is continue being a fan of anyone other than Arsenal.

    You really are a prat.

  14. Para, no excuse, how on earth can you say that, Dean doesn’t cheat we WIN the game. think you better get a transfer to a more anti blog

  15. Para is correct as Arsenal did not play for 85 mins so neither team deserved it. Arsenal are playing like Man U who have also thrown the towel in and Nitram is just another lickle hard ‘man’ on the keyboard.

  16. Unfair/biased/incompetent/… officiating has become a staple especially when arsenal and dean are involved. Sometimes the inevitability of it all is just maddening and you are left wondering,whats the point?

    What’s the point of players working off their asses trying to break down a packed defence only to be screwed over by a goal that’d never stand if the laws of the game were obeyed? Whats the point of trying to give yr best on the pitch knowing that the officials who are supposed to be the custodians of your safety neglect their responsibility and recklessly put you at risk? Or planning for a game whose is more likely to be determined by questionable refereeing that has now become a pattern?

    I hold a very dim view of football nowadays. It seems sometimes people go out of their way to praise and elevate mediocrity at the expense of fairness and what ought to be8 cherished about football(its still a beautiful game). Maybe i am asking for too much and the current state of affairs is just the new normal. Its just despressing.

    I wouldnt want to put myself in the shoes of arsenal players or Wenger, only God knows how much he has sufferred. And to think that some puny minded still direct their righteous anger at the wrong party…

  17. para & taxpayer – have a great new year on a site that accommodates spare parts for cess pits. This is a supporter blog for Arsenal supporters.

    I am an Arsenal supporter & also a passionate football fan. What the PGMOL have done to the game is tantamount to rape.

  18. ‘What the PGMOL have done to the game is tantamount to rape’.
    Tell that to a genuine rape victim.

  19. @Menace, that is a most offensive comment. Comparing the PGMOL antics to rape is extremely insensitive. Disgraceful.

    After a good result against Palace it’s a shame we played so insipidly. Palace is a difficult place to get a win so we did really well but WBA are a really toothless outfit. Some of our players looked like they’d had too many helpings of turkey and were fortunate not to get stuffed.

    Very weak penalty. The injustice of it prodded the Arsenal into life but it was a bit late to suddenly discover some full-blooded passion.

    I suspect we’ll see a much more lively performance against Chelsea.

  20. Rupert I think rape has several meanings and has often been used in literature to define destruction (for example the destruction of a town) as well as the appalling physical crime

  21. Tony
    Perhaps the Menace fella might like to clear this one up.
    I doubt somehow he’s using an example from literature.

  22. If I started asking commentators to explain how they are using words and phrases with multiple meanings and then use that as a way of deciding whether to publish a comment or not I would have no life left at all. My judgement as publisher has to suffice.

  23. @Tony, I’m aware of the use of rape in various ways but I think this is far too strong in this context. If you wish to publish it fine but this Menace person has a track record of offensive insults, many of which are hardly contentious, but this time I think he/she has gone too far. I doubt he’s a woman as I doubt he/she would use such inflammatory language. Anyway I think it’s more an example of ignorance and insensitivity on this person’s part.

    Happy new year. Let’s hope it’s a good one for Arsenal.

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