Blog by: GB Vish
Teams that have qualified for Europe now enter the Capital One Cup, with Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City all competing for a shot at silverware. One such encounter will take place at the Hawthorns tomorrow evening.
Kick-off: 2000 GMT, 25 September 2013, 0030 IST, 26 September 2013
Location: The Hawthorns, West Bromwich, England, United Kingdom
Arsenal face a tricky trip to West Bromwich to face a team that will be high on confidence after picking up their first win of the season against a Sunderland side who moved quickly to dismiss Paolo di Canio after that game.
The Gunners have lost another player to injury. Theo Walcott was injured in warm up before the Stoke City game and Arsene Wenger’s team are now down to the bare bones.
West Bromwich Albion
Last five fixtures: WDLWD
21/09/2013: 3-0 vs. Sunderland (H), Barclays Premier League
14/09/2013: 1-1 vs. Fulham (A), Barclays Premier League
01/09/2013: 0-2 vs. Swansea (H), Barclays Premier League
27/08/2013: 3-0 vs. Newport County (H), Capital One Cup
24/08/2013: 0-0 vs. Everton (A), Barclays Premier League
Albion have only lost one in their last five games and although they have only won two of those games, both their draws have been on the road, which displays the resilience present in Steve Clarke’s team.
That being said, Arsenal will be the biggest challenge the Baggies have faced this season. Recent games against the Gunners haven’t gone according to plan. In the closing stages of last season, a Tomas Rosicky brace gave the visitors a 2-1 win at The Hawthorns, despite centre back Per Mertesacker being sent off.
On the closing day of the season before last, Arsenal came away with a 3-2 win here. Andre Santos, Yossi Benayoun and Laurent Koscielny scored the goals that helped them finish third and assure automatic qualification for the Champions League.
Albion however do have previous experience in this competition this season. They overcame Newport County in the first round of the Capital One Cup, with an excellent hat trick from Saido Berahino.
Last five fixtures: WWWWW
22/09/2013: 3-1 vs. Stoke City (H), Barclays Premier League
18/09/2013: 2-1 vs. Marseille (A), UEFA Champions League
14/09/2013: 3-1 vs. Sunderland (A), Barclays Premier League
01/09/2013: 1-0 vs. Tottenham Hotspur (H), Barclays Premier League
27/08/2013: 2-0 vs. Fenerbahce SK (H), UEFA Champions League
Arsenal are going to play their first game in this competition, having come off a punishing sequence of fixtures. Away wins against Sunderland and Marseille have shown a mental toughness that has steadily been growing in the Arsenal squad over the last couple of seasons.
The squad, however, is depleted by injuries and Wenger does not have a deep pool of players to choose from. Theo Walcott suffered an abdominal tear in the warm up before the Stoke game and Serge Gnabry starred in the Gunners’ 3-1 win.
Ju-Young Park, Hector Bellerin, Chuba Akpom, Thomas Eisfeld, Kristoffer Olsson and Ryo Miyaichi all trained with the first team ahead of this game and they could be involved in some capacity. This is a competition which Wenger has constantly used in the past to blood young players.
His team have reached the finals of the competition on two separate occasions: in 2006, when Didier Drogba’s brace handed Chelsea the trophy and 2011, when a mix-up between Wojciech Szczesny and Laurent Koscielny gifted Obafemi Martins a winner that gave Birmingham City the cup.
West Bromwich Albion
The Baggies have been given a double injury boost ahead of this game. Shane Long has overcome his knee injury that has kept him sidelined for the last two fixtures and Steven Reid has overcome a calf problem that has seen him miss all of this campaign so far.
Northern Ireland Chris Brunt could also be in the frame for a return as he races against time to recover from a groin complaint.
But Zoltan Gera and George Thorne (both knee) and Matej Vydra (hamstring) are not available.
Squad (from): Ben Foster, Steven Reid, Jonas Olsson, Goran Popov, Claudio Yacob, Liam Ridgewell, James Morrison, Markus Rosenberg, Shane Long, Scott Sinclair, Chris Brunt, Lee Camp, Boaz Myhill, Diego Lugano, Victor Anichebe, Graham Dorrans, Morgan Amalfitano, Luke Daniels, Youssouf Mulumbu, Gareth McAuley, Craig Dawson, Billy Jones, Stéphane Sessègnon, Kemar Roofe, Adil Nabi, Saido Berahino, Nicolas Anelka, Liam O’Neil
Probable Starting XI: Foster, Reid, Lugano, McAuley, Popov, Mulumbu, Dorrans, Amalfitano, Anichebe, Sinclair, Rosenberg
Theo Walcott is set to undergo surgery for his abdominal tear and will not feature until the next international break. Santi Cazorla (ankle) is also expected to be out for that long.
Abou Diaby (ACL), Lukas Podolski (hamstring) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee) are all long-term injuries but the German is the nearest to a return. Tomas Rosicky (hamstring) is expected to be back by Sunday.
Lukasz Fabianski (nose) is back in the squad, but Yaya Sanogo is out with a back complaint.
Squad outcasts Nicklas Bendtner and Ju-Young Park are expected to play some part in the game.
Squad (from): Bacary Sagna, Per Mertesacker, Thomas Vermaelen, Laurent Koscielny, Tomas Rosicky, Mikel Arteta, Lukas Podolski, Jack Wilshere, Mesut Ozil, Olivier Giroud, Emiliano Viviano, Aaron Ramsey, Nacho Monreal, Mathieu Flamini, Lukasz Fabianski, Nicklas Bendtner, Carl Jenkinson, Emmanuel Frimpong, Kieran Gibbs, Ju-Young Park, Ryo Miyaichi, Damian Martinez, Chuba Akpom, Kristoffer Olsson, Sami Ajeyi, Thomas Eisfeld, Hector Bellerin
Probable Starting XI: Viviano, Jenkinson, Bellerin, Vermaelen, Monreal, Arteta, Eisfeld, Ozil, Miyaichi, Gnabry, Bendtner
It will be the Baggies who will put out the more experienced squad and possess home advantage and Arsenal will need to bring their A-game if they want a result.
West Bromwich Albion 1-2 Arsenal