Arsenal vs. West Brom
Venue: Emirates Stadium
Kick off: 7PM
Arsenal will be looking to put their Europa League semi-final heartache behind them when they host relegation-threatened West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League this evening.
The Gunners have lost seven home games in the top-flight this campaign, four more than last season, and are also winless in their last six at the Emirates Stadium in all competitions.
Meanwhile, the Baggies have claimed just two wins on the road this term, although one of these was an impressive 5-2 victory away at Chelsea in April.
Arsenal’s dream of reaching the Europa League final for the second time in three years is now over after they played out a goalless draw at home to Villarreal on Thursday evening, with the Spanish outfit progressing 2-1 on aggregate.
The Gunners, who only had two shots on target throughout the 90 minutes, needed just one goal to book their place in Gdansk, but they failed to overturn the deficit and Unai Emery was able to get one over his former club, reaching the final for the fifth time in his managerial career.
Head coach Mikel Arteta insists that he is the right man to take the club forward, but the pressure is now mounting on the Spaniard who has failed to build on last season’s FA Cup triumph.
Europa League success for Arsenal would have seen them qualify for next season’s Champions League, but they are now at risk of facing their first campaign without European football in 25 years.
The Gunners return to Premier League action this weekend, where they currently sit ninth in the table, seven points behind rivals Tottenham Hotspur in sixth, who currently occupy the final Europa League qualification spot.
However, if Arsenal were to finish the campaign in seventh, they would qualify for the inaugural Europa Conference League. Achieving this may still be a tall order as they are five points behind seventh-placed Liverpool who also have a game in hand.
Arsenal have an impressive record at the Emirates against West Brom, winning 10 of their 12 home matches in the top-flight. They have also scored in all 25 Premier League meetings against the Baggies – the best scoring record that one side has against another in the division.
Arteta’s men must win today if they are to keep their slim hopes of European qualification alive, but a surprise defeat would put the Gunners at risk of finishing this campaign in the bottom half of the table for the first time since 1994-95.
After failing to win any of their last three league matches, West Bromwich Albion must also win tonight if they are avoid an immediate return to the Championship.
The Baggies could only draw 1-1 at home against Midlands rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday, despite Mbaye Diagne scoring a second-half equaliser, his third Premier League goal since joining the club on loan in January.
Sam Allardyce, who took charge of the club in December, has never been relegated from the Premier League as a manager, and although they have lost just three of their last 10 matches, West Brom are 11 points adrift from safety, with an 11th top-flight relegation seemingly on the horizon; only Birmingham City (12) have suffered more demotions to the second tier.
The Baggies will hope to avoid a repeat of their last meeting with Arsenal, which saw the north London club cruise to a 4-0 victory at the Hawthorns in January.
Indeed, West Brom have a poor record against the Gunners, losing more top-flight matches against them (65) than any other opponent in their history.
They also travel to the Emirates having lost each of their last seven away games against them by an aggregate score of 15-1.
Furthermore, Allardyce has lost 17 Premier League games against Arsenal as a manager, only losing more times in the top-flight to Manchester City (18).
Defeat for the Baggies on Sunday would confirm their relegation from the Premier League, but a victory would see them live to fight another day and could move them up to 18th place, seven points behind Burnley, who face Fulham on Monday night.
Arsenal possible XI: Leno, Chambers, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney, Partey, Elneny, Saka, Smith Rowe, Pepe, Aubameyang.
West Brom possible XI: Johnstone, Ajayi, Bartley, O’Shea, Furlong, Gallagher, Yokuslu, Townsend, Pereira, Robinson, Diagne.