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West Brom v Arsenal: Pulis to ruffle Wenger's feathers again

Arsene Wenger looks set for more frustration
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Dave Tindall says West Brom can make it another difficult 90 minutes for Arsene Wenger on Saturday...


"The Arsenal boss has taken his team to Pulis-managed teams and emerged victorious just once in the last six tries."

Back West Brom (+1) at [2.3]

West Brom v Arsenal
Saturday 18 March, 12:30
Live on Sky Sports 1


West Brom


Now that West Brom have the symbolic 40 points secured, it's up to Tony Pulis and his motivational skills to see how many more they can accrue.

Sitting on that figure with 10 games still to play is hugely impressive although it's hard to see how they can go any higher than their current position of eighth as it's a jump of seven points to Everton in seventh.

Pulis will no doubt have set his team certain targets to reach and, with Cup football done for the season in early January, the Baggies have no other distractions.

And yet, there must be a nagging sense amongst Baggies fans that their team feel they've done enough.

In the last two games, they've lost 2-0 at home to Crystal Palace and then slumped to a 3-0 defeat at Everton.

One obvious positive is that Pulis has nipped any potential slumps this season in the bud and at no point have West Brom endured more than two defeats in a row.


Arsenal

The 'should he stay or should he go?' question has been debated amongst Arsenal fans for many seasons but a straw poll now would surely produce an overwhelmingly one-sided result.

The bottom line is this: Arsenal have lost five of their last eight games. Of the three wins in that time, two have been against non-league opposition in the FA Cup.

In the Premier League, three losses out of four and Cup commitments have seen them fall five points behind fourth-placed Liverpool and the Wenger guarantee of a Champions League spot looks hugely uncertain.

The talent remains and can still be enough to overcome certain opposition but the stomach for a fight seems long gone when the going gets tough.

Wenger may not be a dead man walking as it appears he controls his own fate but the clock is ticking and playing a Tony Pulis team is never ever going to mean an easy ride.


Match Odds

Arsenal are just [1.75] to come away with all three points while West Brom are an eye-popping [5.3] to heap more misery on Wenger. The draw is [4.0].

The good news for Wenger is that Arsenal have lost just one of their last 12 Premier League games against West Brom, winning nine of those.

The bad news is that Wenger has struggled when Pulis has been sat in the home dugout. The Arsenal boss has taken his team to Pulis-managed teams and emerged victorious just once in the last six tries and finishing on the losing side in three of those.

That poor head-to-head record when Pulis is the opposition's home manager looks a more powerful form guide than the one against West Brom themselves.

Given that they gunned down Arsenal 2-1 in the fixture last year, I'm tempted to go for the hosts but my overriding feeling is that they won't lose so West Brom +1 is the play as it gets the draw onside too.


Over/Under 2.5 Goals

Arsenal have netted in all 21 Premier League games they've played against West Brom so history puts at least one on the board for them.

Also, 11 of Arsenal's last 13 games have witness three or more goals and the two that didn't failed by just a single goal.

Against that, there was only one goal (Olivier Giroud's 86th-minute winner) when the two sides met at the Emirates on Boxing Day although in 11 West Brom games since then the count is seven in favour of Overs and just four for Unders.

The market expects goals with Overs at [1.86] and Unders [2.14].


To Score

The Arsenal players are predictably short and, as [2.2] Alexis Sanchez has managed just one goal in his last five away games, the better option could be Theo Walcott at [2.7]. He's netted three in his last four although two of those were against non-league opposition.

There are a couple of interesting options on the West Brom side.

James Morrison has scored in two of his last three games against Arsenal at the Hawthorns while he's wheeled away in celebration in three of his last 10 matches too. He's 4/1 (Sportsbook) to register again.

Gareth McAuley has seven goals to his credit for West Brom this season and could again benefit from the superb dead-ball delivery of Chris Brunt.

With two in his last four, McAuley could appeal at 13/2 (Sportsbook) to score anytime.


Ref watch

Neil Swarbrick is the man in the middle for this Saturday lunchtime kick-off.

The Lancashire official is just one yellow shy of 100 bookings this season while he's sent off just two players in those 26 matches

He was also the ref when this pair met at the Emirates, booking three Arsenal players and West Brom goalie Ben Foster.

Swarbrick also took charge of West Brom's 2-1 defeats against Liverpool and Everton (showed yellow to three Baggies in each). For the record, Gareth McAuley scored in both those games so if you like an omen...


Opta stat

Since Tony Pulis took charge of WBA in January 2015, the Baggies have scored a higher proportion of goals from set-pieces (47.8% - 43/90) than any other team in the Premier League.


Recommended Bet

Back West Brom (+1) at [2.3]


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Dave Tindall's P/L, 2016/17

Staked: 43pts
Returned: 44.69pts
P/L: +1.69pts

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