Another international football lull at least means that we get to warmly welcome Arsenal back into our lives. After the many atrocities that took place in Paris, Lebanon and other countries respectively, this weekend represents a chance for football to show the monsters responsible for such horrors that we will not let them sway our way of life nor our remembrance at the lives lost.
Arsenal’s last game was the North London Derby – a match with peaks and troughs throughout – and the point earned means that Manchester City are still in our sights. A positive to be gleaned from the Arsenal hiatus is that injuries – of which we had plenty – were given time to heal and fatigue could be dulled slightly, dependent on the players involvement for his country.
In conjunction with this, Arsenal get to welcome back Spanish dynamo Hector Bellerin, who has shrugged off his ailment and will give Wenger a boost in numbers. Whether or not he will instantly displace Mathieu Debuchy is something only Wenger can know, but given the French right-back’s display against tottenham, he will have given Wenger a selection headache at least.
Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are close to returning to training, but this game comes slightly too soon for the Welsh and English men, so it is expected Costa Rican Joel Campbell will continue to be given a shot to impress.
Laurent Koscielny is said to have been deeply shaken by the events that took place in Paris, so much so that Arsene Wenger has maintained he will check with the player himself before selecting him for the trip to The Hawthorns. Gabriel is available to deputise if required.
Jack Wilshere, Danny Welbeck, Tomas Rosicky, David Ospina and Theo Walcott continue to be ruled out through injury, although the rumoured prognosis for Wilshere is positive, with a return date of late December being bandied around.
Thankfully, German mastermind Mesut Ozil has been on hand to paper over any cracks of frustration fans may have regarding yet another long injury list. The playmaker now holds the record in the Premiership for the least amount of matches taken to register ten assists – he took eleven games – and his assured touch and awareness has been more than integral to Arsenal’s current lofty position.
Alexis Sanchez will no doubt be selected – despite his last few performances looking slightly out of sorts. The Chilean is well known for his reserves of energy, but two full matches played in South America and two more long flights will have done nothing to help him recover the edge he has lost in recent weeks. Fans will hope he can summon some of his superhuman efforts as the opponent Arsenal face have a fantastic defensive record.
Tony Pulis is the football management equivalent of Ronseal – He does exactly what is written on the tin. The becapped gaffer revitalises teams and tightens them up, making it difficult for opponents to find space in the final third. This incredibly effective stifling technique has seen his side boast a great ‘goals against’ column, but it is scoring which is proving a more trying affair.
Saido Berahino can be called upon, but it is Salomon Rondon who has Pulis’s support in the lone striker slot so far this season. He has three goals to his name in the League and his powerful hold up play is the foundation to allow James Morrisson, Chris Brunt and Stephane Sessegnon late runs into the box.
West Brom have lost their last two games, but sitting in thirteenth place at the start of play, Pulis and his men will know that a couple of victories can see them leap up a tightly packed league table.
Arsene Wenger will also be more than aware of the need to stymie Rondon, Brunt and co. If Arsenal are to keep pace with the summit of the Premiership, then a visit to West Bromwich Albion can hold no fears for his impressive side.
The Gunners have the second best goal difference in the league so far and have players returning to patch up apertures in the squad. With Francis Coquelin still going strong, Mesut Ozil showing his vision for a pass more regularly and the defence being on a sound footing – the Gunners can go to the Hawthorns with confidence.
Predicted Result – WBA 0-2 Arsenal