Although not mathematically out of the running for a top-six finish the slim hope West Brom had of qualifying for Europe has all but faded. An unsuccessful trip to West Ham last week left the Baggies seven points off the pace in eighth and with nothing much left to play for this season. In fact it leaves Steve Clarke and his troops with a relatively stress free run-in. Albion haven’t dropped below ninth all term and is testament to excellent work conducted by Clarke in his first year as a fully fledged head coach. He more than anyone will demand the players maintain their high standards and round off an impressive campaign.
Conversely, the stakes couldn’t be higher for Arsenal with Champions League football hanging on the line. The Gunners could rise above Chelsea and back into the top-four temporarily should they triumph at the Hawthorns and put the pressure on the Blues to get a result in their game on Sunday. Arsene Wenger’s men have certainly struck a rich vein of form at the right time with five wins in their last six Premier League games. It was this fixture on the final day of last season that saw Arsene Wenger’s men secure a place at Europe’s top table. That’s a good omen in anyone’s book.
Youssuf Mulumbu starts a thee-match suspension after being sent off against West Ham last week for violent conduct. Thankfully for manager Steve Clarke he has James Morrison back after he recovered from a hamstring injury.
Theo Walcott (hip/thigh) and Jack Wilshere (ankle) remain unavailable to Arsene Wenger but Nacho Monreal could feature for Arsenal after shaking off a knock to the knee.
What the managers said…
”The matter (Odemwingie) has been dealt with internally by the club. I would like to move on from it and with seven games remaining. Hopefully we can start talking about West Brom and the good season we’ve had up to now and hopefully more good things to talk about between now and the end of the season. Everyone has to be open-minded about Twitter, although it’s not a concept I’m comfortable with. I don’t understand the attraction of faceless media. I try to sort things out face-to-face with people and I can understand the tone of questions better when they come from someone in the same room. Social media, including emailing, is impersonal but I have to try to understand it better. A lot of people obviously love it. I’ve got kids who use it.” West Brom boss Steve Clarke concedes he needs to ‘understand twitter better’ after the recent online furore with Peter Odemwinge. (Telegraph)
“I don’t believe that. If he didn’t play well and had not signed a contract, then people would say the opposite. I don’t think that is linked, especially with the fact that he has signed a contract or not. Because you can say as well he is more secure, he can express himself. At Bayern he didn’t have the greatest game, but he still brought the goal. He will come back.” Arsene Wenger dismissed suggestions Theo Walcott has become complacent after signing his new Arsenal contract (SportingLife)
Pre-Match Statistic: Arsenal are unrivalled in the Premier League this season when it comes to scoring after the 76th minute of the match netting 15 times in the final quarter of their games.
Prediction: West Bromwich Albion 2-2 Arsenal