Simon Mail previews the final Premier League game of the calendar year and thinks West Brom are unlikely to get a much-needed win against host Arsenal...
"Alexis Sanchez looked extremely sharp at Crystal Palace scoring twice to take his tally to three goals in two games. He has netted 19 goals since the start of last season in away league matches and also has three goals in his last four appearances against West Brom."
West Brom v Arsenal
Live on Sky Sports Premier League
Baggies badly in need of victories
It has been all change at the Hawthorns this season with Tony Pulis axed and Alan Pardew brought in to provide the lift West Brom need to climb out of trouble. But this has not happened yet and the Baggies are currently on an 18-match winless run in the Premier League. This has left the side second bottom with just 15 points from 20 games and in a major struggle to maintain their top-flight status.
Pardew's first game in charge came at the start of December in a goalless draw at home to Crystal Palace. He has been unable to inject a winning mentality into the side even if they have been difficult to beat. The Baggies claimed a creditable 0-0 draw at Liverpool and also held Everton to the same scoreline on Boxing Day but wins are desperately needed for a side, which has scored just 14 goals in 20 games, without a victory since August.
Wenger reaches Premier League milestone
Arsene Wenger will celebrate taking charge of a record 811th Premier League match this weekend and the legendary Arsenal boss should be in good spirits after watching his side win 3-2 at Crystal Palace on Thursday night. The Gunners have not always been reliable away from home this season but produced a dominant performance at Selhurst Park to close within touching distance of the top four.
Arsenal are only behind fierce rivals Tottenham on goal difference and have taken seven points from their last three matches which included a thrilling 3-3 draw against fourth-placed Liverpool last week. The return of Jack Wilshere to their midfield has been a boost and he has looked increasingly sharp after being given a run of games by Wenger. But their defence still has significant frailties which were again exposed after conceding five goals in the last two games.
Arsenal firm favourites to sink strugglers
West Brom offer no value at odds of 5.39/2 to claim a long-awaited win. The Baggies have gone 18 league games without a victory and this looks one of their tougher assignments. West Brom have beaten Arsenal at home in the last two seasons although this was in a much more confident side and the price on a victory this weekend just does not look big enough to even consider.
Arsenal are worthy favourites for this match and their performance against Palace suggests their price of 1.748/11 is a fair one. Nevertheless Wenger's side have not delivered consistently on the road winning three of their ten league matches. Having lost on their last two visits to West Brom, this is not a foregone conclusion and even against struggling opponents this can hardly be considered banker material.
The draw is a tempting proposition and should be considered at 4.1. West Brom have drawn three of their six matches under Pardew and their home record has seen them held in six of their ten league games so this suggests the price is on the generous side. However the last eight meetings between the teams have failed to produce a stalemate.
Sanchez can fire Gunners towards points
Alexis Sanchez's future remains in doubt with the possibility of an exit in January due to his contract expiring at the end of the season. But the Arsenal star looked extremely sharp at Crystal Palace scoring twice to take his tally to three goals in two games. Sanchez has netted 19 goals since the start of last season in away league matches and also has three goals in his last four appearances against West Brom. The Chile forward appeals at 6/4 to strike again this weekend for the Gunners.
Arsenal have scored in all 23 of their Premier League games against West Bromwich Albion, the best such 100 per cent record in the division. The Gunners are just 1/8 to continue this run with another goal.
Mike Dean will officiate this match and the referee has only sent off one player this season. Dean dismissed Manchester City's Raheem Sterling back in August at Bournemouth. He has gone 13 matches without handing out a red card.
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Simon Mail's 2017/18 P/L