Arsene Wenger has been in the spotlight all season, but not as much as he has been over the last few weeks. With fans unhappy due to the poor results the London side has had, Wenger finds himself under immense pressure to get his team back to winning ways—and fast.
A mid-week defeat to Olympiakos away will have frustrated the French manager, despite the fact that he fielded a team that was far from his strongest. Rosicky got his first start since returning from an injury, and even got his first goal of the season after a nice setup from Gervinho.
Draws against Everton and Aston Villa along with defeats to Swansea and Olympiakos leave the Gunners winless in their last four official matches. The hosts will not be able to afford another poor performance in front of their fans, or else things could get very bad.
Steve Clarke's side arrives at the Emirates as one of the surprising teams of the current campaign. They currently find themselves in fifth place, equal on points with Chelsea, who are in third place with 26 points. A victory for West Brom would not only give them another confidence boost, but it would also give them their first victory since November 24th, when they defeated Sunderland 2-4.
Knowing that the fans are unhappy, Mikel Arteta has said in an interview that the players are hurting at the fact that they have been putting in sub-par performances. "'People are hurting, people are upset with themselves, the players are angry,' he is quoted as saying. 'I think that's a good thing. It's not like players couldn't care less, they know what they need to do.'"
"We have been watching videos over and over again of games, looking at what we've done wrong. That comes from everyone, absolutely everyone... We need to win games, it doesn't matter how. The players want to put it right. I'm expecting a big reaction. I know we will get that from the players."
|2011/2012||13 May||West Brom||2 – 3||Arsenal|
|05 Nov||Arsenal||3 – 0||West Brom|
|2010/2011||19 March||West Brom||2 – 2||Arsenal|
|25 Sept||Arsenal||2 – 3||West Brom|
|League Cup||22 Sept 2009||Arsenal||2 – 0||West Brom|
|2009/2010||03 March||West Brom||1 – 3||Arsenal
Arsene Wenger isn't a fan of blaming his players, and so he did the same thing he has done over the years: he took the blame for the poor performances.
Now, while he can still be at fault, the players also need to take some of the heat, as they are the ones who are not performing on the pitch.
Who will win the match?
Arteta's interview gives the fans a little bit of comfort as they can at least see that the players are working on their issues and want to fix the problem, or at least that is what they are leading us to believe.
Taking on a West Brom side that has been in good form this year won't be an easy task, regardless of it being at home. Having rested a number of starters mid-week, Wenger's side will be expected to come out strong and take control of the game right from the get-go.
Failure to do so could lead to a lot of anxious and mixed emotions in the crowd.
Considering Arsenal has done well against West Brom as of late, they have that going for them on Saturday. What they don't have going for them is the absence of Theo Walcott, Bacary Sagna, Laurent Koscielny and Lukas Podolski. These four are important figures in Arsenal's squad this season, but the Gunners will need to have their replacements step up their game in their absence.
I expect—or at least hope—for a much better performance from Arsenal, given that the players want to prove to their fans and the rest of the league that they shouldn't be counted out. Fortunately for the Gunners, the league table is fairly tight—so if they can string a few victories together, they can find themselves back in a European spot.
Respecting West Brom will be important for Arsenal, as the visitors will have certainly watched the video of Swansea's historic victory at the Emirates just last week.
Arsenal 2-0 West Bromwich Albion