Sunday, October 6, 2013
West Brom vs Arsenal
Premier League leaders Arsenal travel to West Brom on Sunday looking to secure a club-record ninth straight top-flight away victory.
Arsene Wenger's men are on a scintillating run of nine wins and a draw from their last 10 games in all competitions, with the Baggies being the only team to hold them when they drew 1-1 after 90 minutes in the Capital One Cup in September.
However, Arsenal still came through that tie on penalties, meaning that they have lost just one of their last 20 matches at the Hawthorns.
The Gunners lost their opening game of their league campaign to Aston Villa but have taken maximum points from five matches since then to go two points clear at the top of the table. Nevertheless, Wenger feels that there is still room for improvement from his side and called on them to maintain their focus.
"I believe we can still do better, that there is more to come from us, but that will depend now on how much we want it and how hungry we are to improve," he remarked to reporters.
The form of Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil has been a major factor in Arsenal's winning streak and the Welsh midfielder and German playmaker are likely to once again provide their major attacking threats, along with striker Olivier Giroud.
However, Wenger will be without Theo Walcott (abdomen), Bacary Sagna (hamstring), Santi Cazorla (ankle) and Yaya Sanogo (back) on Sunday.
West Brom, meanwhile, go into the game brimming with confidence after their 2-1 triumph at champions Manchester United last Saturday. That result, their first win over United since March 1984, means that Steve Clarke's men have taken seven points from their last three fixtures after picking up just one point from their opening three.
But, while accepting that the success at Old Trafford was "great", Clarke has urged his team to forget that result and relish the opportunity to go and compete against another of the division's leading sides.
"We have three points for our efforts and now we have to do it again this week," the Scot told reporters.
Clarke will definitely be without Scott Sinclair (hamstring) and Ben Foster (foot) for the game, while Victor Anichebe (groin) is a doubt. However, James Morrison and Matej Vydra (both hamstring), Shane Long and Stephane Sessegnon (both knocks), Chris Brunt (groin) and Nicolas Anelka (foot) could be available after returning to training.