Arsenal and West Brom come into this Premier League clash in two very different sets of circumstances.
For West Brom, this season already represents a success. Steve Clarke’s first season as a Premier League manager has been remarkably impressive, and the Baggies now sit comfortably in eighth place in the table.
For a side whose initial aim is generally to ensure Premier League survival, it’s an unusually cozy spot. They are ensconced safely in mid-table; it is unlikely they will reach Europe and inconceivable that they’ll be dragged in to any kind of relegation scrap. The players’ minds may already be turning to their summer holidays.
Arsenal still have plenty to play for. Their minimum requirement for every season is to reach the top four and qualify for the Champions League. As yet, Arsenal trail both Chelsea and Tottenham in that particular race. Every point is vital for the Gunners.
West Brom’s form is befitting of a team in mid-table. In March, they won one of their four fixtures, drawing one and losing two. Typically they are stronger at home, so they will be hopeful of causing an upset at the Hawthorns.
Since losing the North London derby, Arsenal have won three games in succession, conceding just one goal.
West Brom team news
West Brom will hope to welcome back James Morrison, who was absent from last week’s defeat at Upton Park.
The Baggies will also be without the suspended Youssuf Mulumbu after he was red-carded for kicking the ball at Gary O’Neill in West Brom’s last game.
Arsenal team news
Arsenal will almost certainly keep faith with the likes of Lukasz Fabianski and Laurent Koscielny at the expense of Wojciech Szczesny and Thomas Vermaelen.
Theo Walcott could be fit to return from injury, but the good form of Gervinho means he is only likely to make the bench.
Here are the projected lineups for this exciting Premier League clash.
Players to Watch
West Brom: Romelu Lukaku
Lukaku’s 13 Premier League goals have made him one of the breakout stars of the season.
His sheer power and athleticism will provide a real test for the Arsenal defence.
Lukaku will be doubly eager to put Arsenal to the sword. Any damage he can do to Arsenal’s bid for fourth will also benefit his parent club, Chelsea.
Arsenal: Santi Cazorla
In recent weeks, Santi Cazorla has recaptured his sparkling form of the autumn. He’s also rediscovered his goalscoring touch, side-footing home a beauty in the win against Reading.
If Cazorla is granted too much space at the Hawthorns, he will make West Brom pay.