Writer: Lord Shepherd
Date:Friday August 15 2008
16 August 2008
The wait is nearly over and West Brom are back in the big time where they belong. The Baggies kick off against Arsenal in what has to be one of the toughest games of their season.
Most neutral observers will not give Tony Mowbray's side a chance indeed most Albion fans would concede that Arsenal are big favourites to win handsomely. However, Tony Mowbray will not accept that and he will send out a team fully prepared to meet an Arsenal team that did not perform well in beating Steve Mclaren's FC Twente earlier in the week and who will be missing key players through injury.
The Baggies will not lie down and die as has happened in previous top flight games. They will try to match Arsenal blow for blow with the same flowing football that the Gunners love to play.
Bring it on!!!
Tony Mowbray speaking to the official West Brom website explained 'When I was at Hibernian we won several times at Ibrox and Celtic Park against teams that were hugely bigger in size and better in quality of players,'
'It gives you hope to know, if you get it right on the day, you can beat a team that you've got no right to really.
'The players have got to believe that and we'll go there, despite them not losing a league game at home last season, believing that we can do it if we do our jobs on the day and everything goes right.'
Arsene Wenger knows his charges are in for a tough start:
'Usually if a team has just come up they give you a very good game,' he explained.
'The main target for us is to win the game no matter how, because we know West Brom will be up for it completely, and of the three teams to have come up from the Championship they probably have the most Premier League experience.'
Arsenal have the folowing players missing: Cesc Fabregas (hamstring), Abou Diaby (thigh), Philippe Senderos (hamstring), Amaury Bischoff (groin), Tomas Rosicky (hamstring) and striker Eduardo (leg) remain in recovery, while Alex Song is at the Olympics.
Two players that definitely will be fit are Kolo Toure and Samir Nasri.
Arsenal (from): Almunia, Sagna, Toure, Gallas, Clichy, Nasri, Ramsey, Denilson, Walcott, Adebayor, Van Persie, Fabianski, Eboue, Djourou, Bendtner, Vela, Wilshere, Gibbs.
Samir Nasri will certainly be a player West Brom will have to be fearful of. The £12 million summer signing from Marseille was injured for Arsenal's midweek game and the Baggies will hope that he hasn't fully recovered.
The Baggies will be missing Luke Moore (thigh), Robert Koren (knee), Neil Clement (knee) and Gianni Zuiverloon who is at the Olympics.
West Brom (from): Carson, Kiely, Hoefkens, Barnett, Meite, Cech, Morrison, Greening, Kim, Brunt, Bednar, Miller, Pele, Beattie, MacDonald, Dorrans, Hodgkiss
Ishmael Miller's pace and power will cause any defence trouble but Miller is determined to mark his first Premier League game for the club with an outstanding performance. Good luck Ishy.
The Baggies have played 8 times against Arsenal in this decade and have won once and drawn once.
24/10/2006 West Brom 0 - 2 Arsenal
15/04/2006 Arsenal 3 - 1 West Brom
15/10/2005 West Brom 2 - 1 Arsenal
02/05/2005 West Brom 0 - 2 Arsenal
20/11/2004 Arsenal 1 - 1 West Brom
16/12/2003 West Brom 0 - 2 Arsenal
26/12/2002 West Brom 1 - 2 Arsenal
27/08/2002 Arsenal 5 - 2 West Brom
Howard Webb will be refereeing and he is certainly one of the better Premier League referees, although I think the Polish might disagree with that one.
A 1-1 draw will get the Baggies off to a steady start.
The Baggies first home game will be against Everton on Saturday, 23 August kicking off at 3.00 pm.
Date:Friday August 15 2008
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