Following successive away losses, Arsenal now find themselves with a hill (not exactly a mountain) to climb out of if they are to win the title. I wouldn’t say they’re out of contention, but losing to Everton and Manchester City despite going a goal ahead in both matches has made the job that bit harder. (You can look at it as though Arsenal have gone from title challengers to “fourth place challengers in the space of a week”, but I wouldn’t necessarily look at it that way).
West Brom on the other hand come off the back of a home loss to Manchester United.
With both sides sitting in fourth and eighth respectively, neither side can afford to drop points if they are to win the title (Arsenal), or challenging for an improbable Europa League berth (West Brom).
On the injury news, Aaron Ramsey is back in training following being side-lined with a hamstring injury, but including him in this game is a risk not worth taking.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who was also put through a similar problem is thought to be back in the new year.
Danny Welbeck, who has been out for seven months, is back in training, but won’t be included in the squad as he regains match fitness.
Having missed training through suffering from flu, James Morrison is a doubt for this match. It’s not all “doom and gloom” for Tony Pulis’ side,however, as Jonny Evans could be coming back after being ruled out for two games after suffering a calf injury.
Arsenal’s home record against West Brom over the last five seasons is five wins out of five whilst the head-to-head record between the managers with Arsenal playing at home is also five wins out of five. Whether that has a bearing over Mondays fixture, you can decide for yourselves.
Going into this match, I feel that it’s important to pick up maximum points here as a defeat will see Arsenal lose three on the trot for the first time since January 2012, something Wenger will be looking to avoid if his team are to remain as challengers for the title.
As for West Brom, they haven’t beaten Arsenal away since the 2010-11 season, so they’ll be raring to get one over Wenger’s side for the first time since then. Whilst I don’t think they’ll do enough to qualify for the Europa League, I’d say its pretty much in their grasp (not impossible, but improbable).
So, with the title chase not all but over (come on, it’s only December), could Arsenal reignite the chase? Will West Brom cut the fuse? Find out on Boxing Day…
Also, Merry Christmas.