Well what a week that was for Arsenal. On December 10th they were top of the table by virtue of Goal Difference from Chelsea, on December 18th they then found themselves 9 points behind Antonio Conte’s all conquering Stamford Bridge machine.
That is because away defeats at both Everton and Manchester City coupled with Chelsea’s continued winning streak have turned Arsenal’s title hopes almost on it’s head with The Gunners now slipping down to 4th place. Once again the rumblings of discontent are getting louder in regards to Arsene Wenger and his future at the club.
He can go someway to quieting that discontent with a win over Tony Pulis’ West Brom this afternoon. But although Arsenal are at home that might be easier said than done after West Brom’s impressive first half of the season which sees them currently lie 8th in the table.
The Gunners can’t afford to drop anymore points especially as Tottenham now find themselves just a point behind their arch rivals. Once again it seems as if the title will elude them and they could be in a race for the last Champions League spot, not only with Tottenham but with Manchester United also.
Mesut Ozil has come in for some criticism as of late with him being almost non existent in last Sunday’s defeat to Manchester City. The German midfielder is reportedly asking for a weekly wage in the region of £250k a week if he is to sign a new contract but at present his performances certainly don’t warrant paying that amount of money.
At The Etihad Arsenal will feel that decisions from the officials went against them at that was what ultimately turned the game. After going ahead through an early Theo Walcott strike they looked composed going into the break but after the interval they come out looking like a different side.
Perhaps Leroy Sane was offside for City’s equaliser but what will be of more concern are the lapses in defence which allowed Sane to even get in the position in the first place. All of Arsenal’s hard work from the first 45 minutes was undone from starting the second half cold and they only really have themselves to blame.
They won’t be able to make the same lapses in concentration today as they will be rightly punished by a West Brom side which is certainly punching above all expectations this season. Many felt that Tony Pulis would be one of the first managers to get the sack but with the way his side are playing there is no immediate danger of that.
The hope now for Pulis is to keep his side in the top half of the table and that they can keep this level of performance up going into the New Year and beyond. Last week though they were dealt a defeat at home to Manchester United as Zlatan Ibrahimovic showed his class as his brace of goals was enough to give United all three points.
West Brom do perhaps struggle against all the bigger teams but they seem to have no such problem against the rest of the league and it’s picking up those results against all the teams around them which has seen them go as high as 6th place as of late.
I don’t think they are going to get anything out of their trip to North London this afternoon as Arsenal simply cannot afford not to win. The Arsenal fans are going to demand something resembling a performance today after the events of the past 10 days or so therefore I think it should be a pretty routine win for The Gunners.