Preview by Numbers: Arsenal v. West Bromwich Albion

Emirates Stadium, London
Sunday, May 4
8:30 a.m. EDT, 13:30 BST
  • Match Officials
    • Referee: Michael Jones
    • Assistants: Gary Beswick and Mike Mullarkey
    • 4th Official: Phil Dowd
  • Reverse Fixture: West Brom 1 - 1 Arsenal
  • This Match, Last Year: Arsenal 2 - 0 West Brom
  • All-Time in All Competitions: 65 Arsenal wins, 36 West Brom wins, 31 draws
  • Arsenal's League Form: D-D-L-W-W-W
  • West Brom's League Form: L-D-W-D-L-W
  • Weather: Partly Cloudy, 13 C / 56 F
  • Arsenal's Odds of Finishing Top Four, Entering Weekend: 97.6%
  • West Brom's Odds of Avoiding Relegation, Entering Weekend: 99.65%
Well, another St. Totteringham's Day has come and gone; thankfully, this one came in April instead of on the final day of the season (on which three of the past four had fallen.) It's nice to continue to leave Spurs forever in our shadow, but more importantly, let's hope St. Everington's Day is coming this weekend.

By the time Arsenal take the pitch on Sunday afternoon (early morning here in New York, my least favorite time slot of all) Arsenal may have fourth place already locked up; if Everton lose to Manchester City in Saturday's late game, the Toffees will be unable to catch Arsenal. Even if Everton win, Arsenal can lock fourth place down with a win of their own.

Let's get the job done.

Arsenal Squad News

Out: Gibbs (ankle,) Oxlade-Chamberlain (groin,) Gnabry (knee,) Wilshere (foot,) Walcott (knee,) Ryo (ankle,) Diaby (groin)
  • No new injury concerns this week, though I previously was unaware of the extent to which Kieran Gibbs and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were injured.
  • To that end, Gibbs is not quite back in full training, while the Ox may not return this season.
  • It's plausible that Jack Wilshere will take some part in the Norwich match next week, especially if Arsenal have fourth place wrapped up by then.
  • No other news elsewhere in the squad and for the second straight week I see no reason for Arsene Wenger to change his XI.
Predicted XI: Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Monreal, Arteta, Ramsey, Ozil, Cazorla, Podolski, Giroud.

West Brom Squad News

Out: Reid (hip,) Ridgewell (knee,) Gera (hamstring)
Doubts: McAuley (calf)

  • Steven Reid has been ruled out with a hip injury, which will force a reshuffling of West Brom's fullbacks. In this fixture last season, Reid played 45 minutes on a broken leg.
  • The Baggies will also be without Liam Ridgewell and Zoltan Gera.
  • Reid and Ridgewell are both fullbacks, meaning West Brom could need to get creative to fill the position. When Reid came off injured last weekend, he was replaced by attacking midfielder James Morrison (not to be confused with Jim Morrison.)
  • Chris Brunt might slide back from midfield to defense to cover while Billy Jones will likely start as the other fullback.
  • Center back Gareth McAuley could return from a calf injury.
Predicted XI: Foster, Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Brunt, Mulumbu, Dorrans, Amalfitano, Morrison, Sessegnon, Vydra.

Current Form
  • Arsenal have appeared to right the ship after failures in their two respective DEATHRUNs. Since the 3-0 loss to Everton, the Gunners have won four straight, though the first was technically a draw won on penalties. They've scored three in each of their last three fixtures.
  • West Brom's 1-0 win at the Hawthorns over West Ham last weekend might just have been enough to save them from the drop; the Baggies are now four points clear with three to play.
  • Entering the weekend, West Brom's odds of being relegated are a paltry 0.35%, which are worse odds than the chance of Arsenal finishing third (0.89%).
  • West Brom have only won twice away from home this season, at Manchester United, Swansea, and Norwich. The latter two of those have come in the last month and a half.
  • The Baggies play at Sunderland on Wednesday before closing the season against Stoke at home on Sunday. Any combination of three points earned by West Brom or dropped by Norwich will secure safety for West Brom; Norwich will play Chelsea after the Arsenal-West Brom match.
Match Facts
  • Arsenal are unbeaten in their last seven matches against West Brom across all competitions, after an Almunia-related debacle in September of 2011 saw the Baggies win 3-2 at the Emirates. That is West Brom's only win at Arsenal in their last six trips.
  • The Gunners played twice at the Hawthorns this fall, drawing both matches 1-1. In the League Cup, Arsenal advanced on penalties while in the league, Arsenal came from behind to secure a point. That was one of just 10 points Arsenal have claimed this year when conceding the first goal.
  • This match last year was played at a point in early December when Arsenal were winless in four. In desperate need of a result, the Gunners won 2-0 through two moderately dodgy penalties. Days later, they would lose to Bradford City on penalties, but let's try to forget that ever happened.
The Referee
  • The referee is Chester-based Mike Jones.
  • The good news about those dodgy penalties I mentioned above in "match facts" from this fixture last year is that Jones was the referee that day too. And, he was the referee for the 3-2 Arsenal win at the Hawthorns at the end of the 2011/12 season that saw Arsenal clinch Champions League football.
  • Arsenal's only match with Jones this year, however, was the 1-0 loss at Stoke, which the Potters won via a debatable penalty themselves.
  • All-time with Jones, Arsenal have a record of 10 wins, two losses, and one scoreless draw against Manchester City with a parked bus in 2011.
  • West Brom have not had Jones this year; the Baggies had a record of one win (over QPR,) one loss (to Arsenal,) and one draw (with Newcastle) with Jones in the middle last year.
Around the League
  • Saturday (early): West Ham United v. Tottenham Hotspur; Boleyn Ground, London
  • Saturday: Aston Villa v. Hull City; Villa Park, Birmingham
  • Saturday: Manchester United v. Sunderland; Old Trafford, Manchester
  • Saturday: Newcastle United v. Cardiff City; St. James' Park, Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Saturday: Stoke City v. Fulham; Britannia Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent
  • Saturday: Swansea City v. Southampton; Liberty Stadium, Swansea
  • Saturday (late): Everton v. Manchester City; Goodison Park, Liverpool
  • Sunday (late): Chelsea v. Norwich City; Stamford Bridge, London
  • Monday (night): Crystal Palace v. Liverpool; Selhurst Park, London