Arsenal v West Brom – Team News & Preview

TEAM NEWS

Arsenal striker Robin van Persie will return to the starting line-up after beginning on the bench in midweek.

Laurent Koscielny may also reclaim his place after being rested against Marseille, but Kieran Gibbs and Marouane Chamakh remain sidelined.

West Brom striker Peter Odemwingie is a doubt after hurting his knee in training this week.

Paul Scharner suffered knee ligament damage against Liverpool last Saturday and is ruled out.

MATCH PREVIEW

Even Tuesday night’s dreary display against Marseille in the Champions League cannot dampen the rediscovered enthusiasm around the Emirates at the moment. The way Arsenal carved open Chelsea again and again en route to that fantastic 5-3 triumph last week was truly exhilarating.

The double loss of first Shane Long and now Paul Scharner is a huge blow for the Baggies

It’s three Premier League wins on the spin now, and five in seven since that debacle at Old Trafford in August. It’s a terrific run that has taken the Gunners from the brink of the relegation zone to the shirt-tails of the top four in the space of two months.

Of course it helps when you have a goalscorer bang in form. Robin van Persie is that man. The Premier League’s top scorer has 10 league goals to his name, including seven in his last three games. Restricted to the role of a second-half substitute in Europe on Tuesday, the captain will surely be back for this one.

West Brom’s much-needed mini-revival was ended by Liverpool last weekend. The merits of a controversial penalty occupied the thoughts of an irritated Roy Hodgson afterwards, but since then his time will have been spent working hard on overcoming the absence of two key players. With a relatively small squad, injuries always bite deep so the double loss of Shane Long and Paul Scharner is a huge blow for the Baggies. If hope is needed look no further than last September, when Albion enjoyed a splendid 3-2 victory, their first on Arsenal soil since 1983.

Few in the away end will truly believe lightning can strike twice. Those wearing red and white will hope that if it does, it applies to last Saturday rather than last season.

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