Our live stream ahead of Saturdays Premier League match, WBA vs Arsenal is now up and running, kicking off at 20.00 GMT
You can keep an eye on the commentary as it happens below, but first, we take a preview into the fixture, lineups, predictions and much more…
West Brom entered Tuesday’s clash with Leeds United off the back of an excellent point at Liverpool and would have been looking to record their first home victory since the end of November.
Leeds however, ran riot at the Hawthorns, scoring five times without reply, and it remains to be seen whether new head coach Sam Allardyce can get a tune out of his players against the Gunners.
A record of one win, five draws and 10 defeats has brought the Baggies eight points, leaving them in 19th position, five points from the safety of 17th place, which is currently occupied by Brighton.
Arsenal will enter their first match of 2021 off the back of successive wins, overcoming Chelsea on Boxing Day before recording a 1-0 victory at Brighton on Tuesday night.
Head coach Mikel Arteta had been under huge pressure earlier this month, but there have been signs of progress in their last two matches, with a number of youngsters taking their opportunities to impress.
Three of Arsenal’s next four matches in all competitions are at home, and a win at the Hawthorns would certainly hand them confidence ahead of a run of potentially-winnable fixtures.
That said, there is no getting away from the fact that it has been a disappointing campaign for the club thus far, having picked up just 20 points from their 16 matches to sit down in 13th position.
West Brom and Arsenal last met on new years eve 2017, battling out a 1-1 draw at the Hawthorns…
On producing a decent performance against Arsenal…
“I want the players to see Arsenal in the same way they saw Liverpool and Manchester City.”
“They’ve seemed to have performed better against the bigger sides in this division so far this year and I hope we can produce another strong performance on Saturday night.”
“It would be great to get a result at The Hawthorns. It’s no secret that we need to start picking up points wherever we can now.”
“Arsenal haven’t had the start to the season they might have wanted but they’ve had a fantastic win against Chelsea recently and then they won at Brighton.”
“I need to make sure I pick the best team to face them, in terms of fitness and mentality. “
“We need to go and compete.”
“We’ve had a few days to recover from the Leeds game so hopefully we’ll look a lot fitter.”
Team news update on Saka, and COVID effected players
“Well, we will see today. Some players had to come in yesterday to get assessed. After the game we had a couple knocks. And then we have the players who have been through all the regulations with COVID, different individuals which I think we’re gonna recover for the game against West Brom. But we will see tomorrow who is available, who is fit, and how is everybody feeling.”
Saka fitness update in particular
“I hope he is available we will see today with training or not. He’s played a lot of minutes as well, and I’m confident that he will be OK for the game.”
Update on Kolasinac transfer
“I cannot confirm anything yet. We are working on a couple of things. Obviously the window is going to bring a lot of news. Some are true some are not. Whenever we have something to say we will announce it.”
On if there’s any truth in the Kolasinac rumours
“We have had some conversations around a few players and whether we can find some loans because the numbers we have in the squad at the moment are really big. But again, we cannot confirm anything at the moment”
Update on Reiss Nelson
“He had a little niggle he’s not been 100%. He’s had a muscular issue. He’s been in and out of training, he’s not been 100%. It’s a shame because I felt he was getting into his performance levels, he started to have some really good games and he was starting to build that momentum. This little injury set him back a little bit. But I think he’s been much better.”
Is he being saved for a January move?
“No. Only it’s my mistake then not clarify the situation what is happening. But yeah, he’s not been 100% fit. That’s the reason why he’s been out and he’s not been featuring with the squad.”
On getting players out
“Well, we have a large squad. We knew that. A lot of things that should have happened in the summer we could not accomplish them for different reasons. There are a lot of players that are going to go on loan.”
“They are going to leave. And that’s the priority at the moment because we cannot sustain the numbers that we have in certain positions. We are looking to do that.”
“And then we will see if we have the right opportunities in the positions that we need some more help we are working with the club to try to address them.”
On whether we will see players come in given tight finances
“Obviously financially, it’s only us, it’s every club in the Premier League that have been in hit with big numbers. We know that this is not going to change in the last year or so.”
“That we are gonna have to add somehow if we’re going to improve the team in different ways financially with some support. And we will decide whether this is with loans or buying players in relation to the opportunities we will have in the market.”
On how important it is that transfers don’t stifle development of players
“Yeah, we need to be careful with that.”
On what he has made of Allardyce at West Brom so far
“Well, two very different matches. The first one against Liverpool, when they had a really clear plan and they executed it really good. I think even going 1-0 they didn’t really change anything at all.”
“They knew they were gonna have their moments. They grew and they got into the game, and were much more efficient in the second half and put Liverpool in trouble.”
“Sam is very efficient at what he does. He has a very clear philosophy of playing, he always picked up results, he always made it really difficult for you and it’s not gonna be different. His teams are always organised and they know exactly what to do so, it will be a tough test again.”
On whether pressure has now been lifted
“I think it’s lifted on everybody. But it’s not honestly, this type of pressure we understand. Most of that pressure is coming through a willing to do so well and disappointing people more than anything else and just finding ways to improve the situation as much as possible.”
“Sometimes in this game it’s difficult to explain the reason why you lose football games, and sometimes doing much better than the opponent you lose it, and sometimes when you don’t deserve that much you still win football games.”
“It is what it is. But what is clear is that we needed to win games to release that pressure for everybody. We’ve done that but it’s still a long way to go.”
On how good Saka is
“For me, the biggest thing that he has done in the past few months is the personality that he plays with. The responsibility that he takes in the decisions he takes when things are not going well, and the impact he has had on the team to get results.”
“That, at that age is not common at all. But that it’s nature and he wants to evolve that. You can see that his teammates trust him, his team wants to give him that responsibility.”
“And that’s great because then you don’t have one or two players, you have more players. And it’s a great example for any young player to play with that commitment, that passion, but as well with that courage when you have to play for a big team.”
On whether relegation talk was overblown
“Well, but when you lost the games that we did and you are in the position in the table at the end it’s what it is and you have to accept. There is nothing worse for me than to try and run away from that reality.”
“And for me, the worrying thing as well was the way we were losing football matches and the reason why we were losing them. And that brings obviously a sense of fear that without them doing nothing they can still beat you.”
“OK we broke that tendency. Now we are in a nice positive run. But there is a lot to do.”
On bringing through youngsters
“Well, we know that our club has a history to bring players through the academy. It’s in our DNA. We want to keep doing it. I think I have done it since the day I came through that door.”
“But they need the right process, they need the right players around them, and you have to respect the timing in their development. There is nothing worse than rushing those players if they are not ready.”
On whether we’ll keep seeing youngsters in the team
“If they are ready and they respond keep doing it. Then you don’t have to hold them back. Then you know the energy and the passion that they have to do. Let them run, sprint and do whatever they want. But as well, 11 kids, it’s impossible.”
“When you have the right mixture then these kids they start to become more senior players and they have a little bit more experience and they are in a good development phase, let’s go for it.”
On what now represents a successful season
“I never go that far. For me the important thing is the next match. And how we do that, and if we can get a result there and how we get that result. What is our performance?”
“How we are evolving. And when you don’t? OK the things we have to improve, and see how people reacts when things are not going well, because it’s a real assessment for the squad, for your staff, for the players and for the club. We’ve been through a lot in the last few months.”
“Some really positive things that we have been able to change. Some achievements that we didn’t expect to have and as well, a lot of disappointments recently in terms of results.”
“For me to plan, and in this world, at the end of this season what is good and bad, it’s impossible to say. We know the aims for this football club that is to win every competition that you are involved in.”
“And it has to be nothing less than that. But as well we have to understand the context that we are in. Respect that. But always have the mentality to change it as quick as possible.”
On whether there are any similarities to when he took over last year
“Well, it’s different because I’ve already been here a year and I’ve seen and I’ve got a much better understanding of what is going on, what is working, what has to be changed and how we can do that.”
“But yeah the challenge is not very different. And I think we know better how to do it I think.”
West Bromwich Albion Premier League form: LLDLDL
Arsenal Premier League form: LLDLWW
Arsenal form (all competitions): LDLLWW
West Bromwich Albion possible starting lineup:
Johnstone; Furlong, Ajayi, O’Shea, Peltier; Robinson, Pereira, Sawyers, Gallagher, Diangana; Grant
Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Leno; Bellerin, Holding, Mari, Tierney; Elneny, Xhaka; Saka, Smith Rowe, Martinelli; Aubameyang
Arsenal to Win to Nil – 7/4 with FanTeam
Crisis? What crisis? Arsenal have put together back-to-back Premier League wins for the first time since the opening pair of fixtures and are well set to make it three on the bounce. There are still issues to be resolved but the reintroduction of Pablo Mari and the integration of some youthful exuberance has helped boost the Gunners.
Meanwhile, Big Sam has overseen just 10 shots from his side in their first three games under him (a new Premier League low). Chastening 3-0 and 5-0 defeats to Aston Villa and Leeds put the draw against Liverpool into perspective. A win to nil for Arteta’s side looks to be good value.
Time to take a look at our WBA vs Arsenal live match stream as it happens…