Any match against old foe Tony Pulis represents the ‘Ronseal Cup.’
The ninety minutes that unfold on the pitch are exactly what is says on the tin. We know what to expect, we know how his teams will line up and we definitely are aware of how they will play.
We are also painfully aware that sometimes, there isn’t much we can do to stop their tactics being infuriatingly effective.
Years of fine-tuning his defensive dark arts has meant that the becapped Pulis always has a chance of points wherever he takes his side, and he has often come away from The Emirates with his baseball cap full of points.
So, how do we stand the best chance of sending the Baggies back up the M1 with naught but a red bum from the spanking we give them?
We play exactly how we did against Chelsea last weekend.
Our setup was right on the money against Conte’s side. Granit Xhaka showed his mettle without losing his link-up play. Ramsey was exemplary in his box-to-box role, but crucially didn’t overlook his defensive duties. Our defence shackled the late runs of the Blues’ offensive midfield and also provided the foundation to build from the back.
Most importantly, our press did actually press. We did not relent.
This is EXACTLY what we need against the Baggies.
They will seek to pressurise, but if we pressure them a little more, we can negate the strangulation tactics they will implement. Use Hector Bellerin and Sead Kolasinac in conjunction with Xhaka and Ramsey to alleviate the pressure and pass around the packed numbers.
In terms of who makes the team, Mesut Ozil is back in training and could well play. With Danny Welbeck out until after the next international break in October, it seems obvious the German will come straight back into the side.
Aside from Welbeck, only Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla are ruled out. Alexis is pretty much operating at full capacity now, so we should milk that little Chilean before he sets off for pastures new. Play him as much as possible, he won’t complain either – it is exactly what he wants.
With our frontline probably consisting of Ozil, Alexis and Lacazette, we will have more than enough to test the likes of Dawson, Helghazi and Evans.
The whole match hinges on how we deal with the pressure.
The pressure that West Brom will bring – and the pressure from the stands as the game winds down and we haven’t scored.
When we are struggling, our home support do not shout louder to support the team – we instead begin to jeer and boo our men. We need support.
Wenger is here for another two years, so we must give our men the 10% that a vociferous home crowd is expected to bring.
West Brom have won 50 per cent of the last four matches we have played, including our last battle last season. We cannot allow this to happen again. With our less than glittering start we are now in a place that allows very little room for error.
So, let us hope that Monday night sees three points, plenty of goals for our team and most importantly – three points.
Predicted lineup – Cech, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Bellerin, Xhaka, Ramsey, Kolasinac, Ozil, Alexis, Lacazette.
Predicted Scoreline – 2-0 to The Arsenal.