Arsenal must battle with Baggies as injury crisis deepens
After impressing in the Champions League against Borussia Dortmund midweek, Arsenal are odds-on favourites at 5/6 with Coral to take all three points when they travel to face West Bromwich Albion.
Arsene Wenger’s men will be aiming to use their 2-0 triumph on the continent as a platform to revive their flagging form in the Premier League, following two consecutive domestic defeats.
Their success last time out came at a price, however, with skipper Mikel Arteta and goal hero Yaya Sanogo adding to the ever-growing injury list.
Jack Wilshere and first choice stopper Wojciech Szczesny will also still be unavailable, giving back-up custodian Emiliano Martinez the chance to make his first league start for the Londoners (and an 8/5 chance of keeping a clean sheet).
The Gunners hold an excellent record against their hosts, with 60 league victories against the Baggies, but have not had it easy at The Hawthorns recently.
Baggies striker Saido Berahino has notched up seven goals in 12 league appearances so far and is 2/1 to punish the visitors anytime as he spearheads the attack.
Irvine will certainly be hoping to utilise his frontman’s pace and directness to exploit the Gunners on the counter, after Manchester United ruthlessly highlighted how Wenger’s wobbly rearguard can be breached.
The Frenchman has been widely criticised in the aftermath of Arsenal’s home defeat and addressed the disappointing result again.
Wenger stated: “We were more under pressure because on Saturday we played well but maybe we were victims of our generous attitude going forward. Here we had a bit more urgency to defend.”
The Gunners have only managed to keep consecutive clean sheets once before this season, but after shutting out Dortmund will be keen to further improve their defensive record.
In offence, Arsenal have little to worry about, with Alexis Sanchez in full throttle. The Chile superstar has been on target seven times in his last six outings across all competitions, including bagging two braces.
After being so influential in attack recently, Sanchez is 7/2 to fire home first, or 4/1 to score two or more. Meanwhile, Olivier Giroud, who netted a sensational consolation goal against United, is 6/5 to strike again anytime as he continues to reintegrate himself into the side.
Arsenal will have to hope Sanchez and co can find a way past the Baggies’ improved backline, however. Irvine’s men still conceded two against Chelsea last time out, but with 10 men against the might of the imperious Diego Costa, their display was much lauded, even by the ‘Special One’ himself.
Speaking after the clash Irvine stated: “Jose said immediately after the game that it was a magnificent performance with 10 players and I have to agree with him on the defensive side.”
Claudio Yacob will be suspended for his two-footed lunge on Costa, and centre back Jonas Olsson is still on the treatment table.
This means that whilst Arsenal fine tune their rearguard, West Brom must turn their attention to attack and hope the likes of Brown Ideye (11/4 to net anytime) can finally spark alongside Berahino in attack.