Arsenal travel to West Brom looking for their third win in three games.
Two victories at the end of 2020 meant the year concluded with an uncharacteristically bright spark for Arsenal. The presence of Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli in those two games meant a fresh sense of exuberance was gratefully felt.
Mikel Arteta will be hoping some momentum can be carried to the Hawthorns on Saturday.
It will doubtless be a difficult task to break down West Brom at the weekend. Off the back of a demoralising 5-0 defeat at the hands of Leeds, Sam Allardyce will be as desperate as ever to tighten his team up at the back. With just eight points on the board so far, both draws and wins represent gold dust for the Baggies.
Offensively, West Brom lack quality. The Midlands side have scored just 11 goals this season, ranking 18th overall. Since the arrival of Big Sam following Slaven Bilic’s sacking, just one goal has been scored. Defensive concentration and attacking ingenuity will be the key for Arsenal.
Arteta is currently enjoying the luxury of an almost fully fit squad. David Luiz and Willian could return to the squad after missing out in the last two fixtures through illness while Thomas Partey won’t be available.
The only certain absentee will be Gabriel, who is still isolating due to his contraction of COVID-19. Furthermore, due to his return to Schalke 04, Sead Kolasinac will likely be unavailable too.
Onto the lineup.
Goalkeeper & Defenders
Bernd Leno (GK) – Leno backed up his impressive outing against Chelsea typified by his penalty save with another strong performance at Brighton. Though it’ll probably be a quiet night’s work for the German, he’ll have to be strong at set-pieces and wary of West Brom counter-attacks.
Hector Bellerin (RB) – Against Chelsea and Brighton, Hector Bellerin enjoyed two of his strongest outings so far this season. He looks to have regained a touch of pace and his forward runs are a constant threat. It’d be harsh to drop him on Saturday.
Rob Holding (CB) – English centre-half Rob Holding has also hit a rich vein of form lately. He’s been commanding aerially and has aptly taken a Pablo Marì devoid of Premier League experience under his wing. Holding has proved himself to be a key figure in Arteta’s recent plans.
Pablo Marì (CB) – Despite his aforementioned Premier League inexperience, Pablo Marì has done well since replacing the COVID-19-stricken Gabriel. Particularly against Brighton, his aerial capabilities were clear for all to see and they’ll no doubt prove useful against West Brom.
Kieran Tierney (LB) – Against Brighton, Jim Beglin suggested on Amazon Prime that Kieran Tierney is deserving of Arsenal’s Player of The Year award and it’s easy to see why. Despite appearing a little leggy against Brighton, he’s unquestionably our best option at left-back, so he has to keep his place.