Albion fans will not be sorry to see the end of 2017. A year that started with such promise is ending with the club battling against relegation and just two league wins since the beginning of April.
The dismal end to last season seemed to have been forgotten when Albion started the league season with back-to-back victories, but that was as good as it got. Four months later, Tony Pulis has been sacked and we are still waiting for the third league win of the season.
The Baggies league record for 2017 reads as follows:
Having played one more match than a Premier League season and we have amassed just 34 points – relegation form by anyone’s measure. And when you consider that half of those points were won in the first ten games of the year, it is a run of 17 points from 29 games which is as bad as anything the club has seen in the last ten years.
In my opinion, the biggest mistake the club made this year was to keep Tony Pulis beyond the end of last season. It seemed clear to me that it was time for a change after such a dismal end to the campaign, picking up just five points from the final twelve games of the season.
That was compounded by a failure to sign a striker in the summer. We were all excited about the signing of Kyrchowiak, mistakenly as it turns out, but a strike force of Rondón, Robson-Kanu and Rodriguez was never going to be enough to keep the goals ticking over, particularly given the paucity of chances that are created with Pulis in charge. The most damning statistic in that league record above is the “Goals For” column. 27 goals in 39 games and more than half of those, 14, were scored in those opening ten games of the year. 13 goals in 29 games!
The last time that Albion scored more than two goals in a Premier League game was on 18th March – the opponents were Arsenal.
And so we move on to league game 40 of the year as the Gunners visit the Hawthorns once again. In March, Albion’s end of season collapse hadn’t quite taken hold and they managed to record a 3-1 win over a struggling Arsenal side that proved to the Baggies’ last three pointer of the season. Craig Dawson scored twice at a time when Albion were still deadly from set pieces.
The world is very different now. Arsenal are on a decent run of form having only lost to the two Manchester sides in the league since mid-October picking up 24 points from the last 36 available. Albion have picked up just five points in the same period.
Last time out, Arsenal picked up all three points in a visit to Selhurst Park with two goals from Sánchez and helped by a Jack Wilshere who seems to be rediscovering the form that saw him become a fixture in the England squad a few years ago. Their two previous away games, both at sides they would have expected to beat in Southampton and West Ham, both finished in draws so Albion should retain at least some home of getting something from the game.
At the Emirates in September, Arsenal ran out 2-0 winners but the Baggies were denied a clear penalty with the game at 0-0, and that match, and Albion’s season, could’ve been very different had it been awarded. The Baggies wait for a penalty goes on, and they could very well go throughout 2017 without being awarded one.
Albion dominated the match on Boxing Day against Everton without managing to find the net and I do feel that they just need to get a little bit of luck to turn the corner. Whether that will come against Arsenal is another matter – given the form of the two teams, it would be a huge shock should the Baggies managed to get the win, but we’ve seen stranger things in the Premier League.
James Morrison remains sidelined for the hosts, while Nacer Chadli has suffered a significant set back with his hip injury and he is joined in the treatment room by Salomón Rondón who suffered hamstring injury on Tuesday. That leaves Albion seriously short up front and, with goalscoring already a serious problem, it’s a blow that Alan Pardew could’ve done without. However, some Albion fans have been calling for the Venezuelan to be dropped anyway, with his first half miss against Everton further evidence of his poor form in front of goal, but with options limited, the only silver lining is that the transfer window opens on Monday.
The visitors will be without Olivier Giroud, Nacho Monreal and Aaron Ramsey.
Albion have won their last two home games over Arsenal but won just one of the other nine meetings between the sides at the Hawthorns. Overall, Arsenal have won more times at the Hawthorns than they have lost, although a win for the Baggies will make it 27 wins apiece in this fixture.
Football is full of surprises and this could just be the fixture that ends the Baggies run of nineteen games without a win, but in reality, this should be a win for the Gunners.
All competitions; most recent game on the right
25 Sep 2017 – Premier League
Arsenal 2 (Lacazette (2, 1 pen))
West Brom 0
Last meeting at the Hawthorns
18 Mar 2017 – Premier League
West Brom 3 (Dawson (2), Robson-Kanu)
Arsenal 1 (Sánchez)
Albion’s Record against Arsenal
|Premier League Record|