Competition: Premier League – Arsenal FC vs. West Bromwich Albion FC
Venue: Emirates Stadium – Thursday, April 21 – 19:45 BST (14:45 ET)
Match Odds: Arsenal 2/7 – Draw 17/4 – West Brom 10/1
Arsene Wenger’s side have endured a tough campaign, with many expecting them to win the Premier League title a few months back, before a terrible run of form has seen them slip down to fourth.
Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace did little to encourage the home fans, who have watched their side win just four of their last 13 league outings.
Arsenal’s title hopes are not officially over, but they will have to win all of their remaining five games and hope Leicester fail to pick up more than two points. Both scenarios seem unlikely and so it appears Wenger’s priority now has to be securing a top four finish.
The Gunners sit fourth entering this game but have Manchester United and West Ham closing in behind and so it’s crucial that the north London side seal three points here.
West Brom have little to play for for the remainder of the season. They sit 14th and have reached that magical 40-point mark so relegation fears have disappeared.
However, Tony Pulis will be frustrated with the fact that his side have lost back-to-back games coming into this tie. Saturday’s 1-0 home loss to Watford would have been particularly hard to take, considering Saido Berahino missed two penalties in the second half.
The Baggies have only won one of their last 11 away games in the Premier League and are huge outsiders to leave the Emirates with three points on Thursday.
That said, West Brom have already beaten Arsenal this season, recording a 2-1 win at the Hawthorns in November. That win ended a 10-game winless streak against the Gunners and so this might be closer than many expect.
Mikel Arteta remains out injured for Arsenal, though long-term absentees Santi Cazorla and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have returned to training. However, this game will likely come too soon for both. Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky are also close to returning but are lacking match fitness and so neither are expected to return to the starting lineup. Danny Welbeck will hope to continue to spearhead the attack ahead of Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott.
West Brom have just two injuries to worry about as midfielders Chris Brunt and James Morrison will miss this clash. Saido Berahino will hope to keep his place in the side despite missing two penalties last weekend.
Arsenal’s last five: D/W/W/D/D
West Brom’s last five: W/L/D/L/L
Key Stat: Arsenal have only won four of their last 13 Premier League matches – only one victory more than West Brom have managed in the same time.
Key Player: Alexis Sanchez – The Chilean star has seemingly come through a tough spell and is looking sharp once again. He has contributed to seven goals in his last six league outings and will expect to hurt the Baggies on Thursday evening.
Arsenal 2-1 West Brom – Arsenal have a lot more to play for than West Brom as we enter the final few games of the season and they need three points on Thursday. They should get them but West Brom might offer a tougher test than most are expecting. A win for Arsenal would take their total to 500 in the Premier League and that should be the outcome here.