A rare chance for West Bromwich Albion to close in on Everton and get a real shot at the Europa League qualification round suffered a huge blow as they went down 3-0 to the Toffees last week. And their league run could worsen in the next game as they host Arsenal at the Hawthorns.
Though Arsenal are going through a rough patch at the moment after losses against Bayern Munich, Liverpool and Chelsea, their brilliant display in the FA Cup is a quick reminder of what they are capable of. And as Pulis has earlier experienced, defending against a passing side has always proven to be difficult for the Baggies.
His record against the North London club is hardly very encouraging. The Welshman has won only one of his last nine Premier League matches against Arsenal. The Gunners have managed to score in all their 21 league fixtures against Albion and have lost just one of their last 12 league meetings against them.
Strongest West Bromwich Albion XI vs Arsenal
Ben Foster is expected to start under the bar. The 33-year-old had a nightmarish game last time when Albion’s defence was pretty much non-existent. The English keeper will expect his defenders to be more compact this time.
The back line is expected to remain unchanged in their home fixture. West Brom’s away form hasn’t been very positive and the fans will hope the same group of players can upset Arsenal at home. Cameroon international Allan Nyom should take his position as the left back. The other flank could be taken by Craig Dawson. After Wilfred Zaha, the 26-year-old had problems stopping Kevin Mirallas too last time. And it is time the manager has a little pep talk with him.
Jonny Evans and Gareth McAuley are expected to take their positions in the central defence. Tom Davies and Romelu Lukaku absolutely terrorised them in the last game and they crumbled under the pressure.
We don’t expect Albion to play an attacking game against an Arsenal side who can hit on the counter quite effectively. Hence, Pulis is likely to deploy Darren Fletcher alongside Claudio Yacob in the central midfield. A better cushion to their defence reduces their chances of conceding so many goals. Jake Livermore should take the number 10 role.
Livermore could be flanked by West Brom’s star player Nacer Chadli and Chris Brunt. James Mclean started the last game and it didn’t turn out quite well. Salomon Rondon should start up front this time after Robson-Kanu failed to make an impact last time out.
Chadli – Livermore – Brunt
Yacob – Fletcher
Nyom – Evans – McAuley – Dawson