Must-win fixture for both West Brom and Arsenal to kick off the New Year
Arsenal to win 2-0
Arsenal have the opportunity to move into the top half of the table for the first time since 1st November, following back to back victories in the Premier League to end a run of horrific form.
Matters could have hardly gotten any worse following a run of five defeats from a winless string of seven matches, but boss Mikel Arteta will be pleased that some of the immense pressure on his shoulders has been lifted for now.
The Gunners have a few fitness concerns, but will have been buoyed after seeing the way in which West Brom were dismantled by a vibrant Leeds side.
For The Baggies, manager Allardyce will not be pleased in the way which West Brom collapsed completely to slump to their 10th defeat from 16 matches. As Fulham, a place above them, have a game in hand, West Brom could be five points off safety.
Form Guide (all comps): LDLDL
Reasons to be cheerful:
Proved against City and Liverpool they can earn big results
Still retain hope of rising out of relegation zone
Reasons to be fearful:
Improvements are yet to come under Big Sam
Arsenal are a team on the rise
Big Sam will be hoping that their 5-0 defeat against Leeds will be the exception rather than the rule under his management.
It was a poor showing, but his players have shown in recent matches that they are capable of big performances, often on the greatest of occasions. Against Manchester City and Liverpool, The Baggies have come away with draws in recent matches.
This is the fighting spirit that Big Sam will want to channel in their next match against a Big Six team – Arsenal in their first match on New Year’s Day.
They will still be without captain Livermore, who serves the final game of his suspension, while Gibbs is a doubt.
No doubt, this will be a tough match against a resurgent Arsenal side.
Star Man – Conor Gallagher
The midfielder has been one of West Brom’s better performers recently, even in the 5-0 thrashing against Leeds.
Form Guide (all comps): DLLWW
Reasons to be cheerful
Two wins on the bounce has kickstarted their season
Youngsters like Saka and Smith Rowe are impressing
Reasons to be fearful
Haven’t won three on the bounce all season
West Brom have taken points off City and Liverpool recently
We’ve seen the ups and downs of many teams in the Premier League so far this season, and Arsenal have certainly been one of those who have suffered through more than their fair share of criticism for their performances.
After two wins on the bounce, however, Arteta’s side have shown dramatic improvement of late, especially by beating heavy-spending Chelsea and the hard-to-beat Brighton along the way.
That’s not to say that Arsenal are out of the woods – they haven’t won three consecutive matches all season and have a long way to go to catch up with those near the top of the table.
They’ll also need to overcome West Brom, who have shown themselves to play well against the bigger clubs and Big Sam will be desperate to recover from their thrashing last time out.
Star Man – Bukayo Saka
Faces a late fitness test, but if he plays the youngster can continue his great run of form lately.
Arsenal will be favourites but must continue good form
West Brom can cause an upset if they are solid
The Gunners will have the majority of possession
In terms of possession, there is no doubt that Arsenal will boss this match.
West Brom, if their matches against Liverpool and Manchester City are anything to go by, will sit back and soak up pressure from the start.
They’ll be confident that this can frustrate the Gunners, but Arsenal are on a good run and should have too much for The Baggies here.
Arsenal to win 2-0