Premier League

The Hawthorns

Saturday 2nd January 2021 -  20:00
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Arsenal
Key Events

    31st December

    Sam Allardyce’s Baggies start 2021 with another game at The Hawthorns when they host Arsenal on Saturday evening (ko 8pm).

    Arsenal

    Their last time out

    The winning feeling has returned to North London after back-to-back victories over Chelsea and Brighton.

    Alexandre Lacazette netted in both games to help the Gunners record consecutive league wins for the first time since September.

    In the dugout

    Mikel Arteta was appointed gaffer at the Emirates Stadium over a year ago after swapping his assistant coaching role at Manchester City for the offer of a return to the capital.

    The Spaniard wasn’t short of avenues to pursue after his 17-year playing career came to an end. Arsenal was one of the possible destinations the 38-year-old could have taken following his retirement, with Arsene Wenger offering him the lead role at the club’s academy in 2016.

    Mauricio Pochettino’s back-room team at Tottenham was another option for the well-respected former Everton midfielder, but Pep Guardiola’s Man City were the ones to secure his signature as Arteta linked up with his former Barcelona academy compatriot once again.   

    During his time in Greater Manchester, Arteta won five accolades including two Premier League titles before embarking on his first managerial role back at his former club Arsenal in December, 2019. Since returning to London, Arteta has already achieved success having won the 2019/20 Emirates FA Cup and the Community Shield in 2020.

    One to watch

    From Arsenal’s array of attacking talent, youngster Bukayo Saka has been the club’s most consistent performer this term.

    The England international enjoyed his breakthrough season with the Gunners last season, making 38 appearances in all competitions, netting four goals.

    And this year, the 19-year-old has been a regular starter in Arteta’s starting XI with more than 20 appearances. The winger’s forward-thinking, attacking style will be one for the Albion defence to keep an eye on this Saturday.

    Our last meeting

    Drama unfolded during the last game between the sides in December, 2017 as Jay Rodriguez’s 89th-minute penalty secured a point for the Baggies at The Hawthorns after Arsenal had taken the lead through a James McClean own goal.

    But a memorable home win against the Gunners came in March, 2017 when a brace from Craig Dawson and a strike from Hal Robson-Kanu secured a 3-1 victory on home soil.

    Stats

    Albion

    • Albion are unbeaten in three home meetings with Arsenal.
    • The Baggies have scored in seven of their last eight matches against the Gunners at The Hawthorns.
    • Saturday’s encounter will be the 35th game gaffer Sam Allardyce has coached against Arsenal - the most times he’s faced any club over his managerial career.

    Arsenal

    • Alexandre Lacazette has scored three in his last three outings in all competitions.
    • Arsenal have kept just one clean sheet from their last 10 PL matches at The Hawthorns.
    • Arteta’s side have won three of their eight away games this season.

    Head to head

      Albion wins Draw Arsenal wins
    League 34 29 65
    FA Cup 4 2 2
    League Cup 0 1 3
    Total 38 32 70

    Our one to watch

    Karlan Grant will be pushing to change Albion’s attacking fortunes when the Gunners visit this weekend.

    The Baggies forward hasn’t managed to find as many attacking opportunities as he’d have hoped for over the last few games.

    But his hold-up play and work-rate have been important in getting Albion on the attack in games - particularly last weekend’s game against Liverpool - and the 23-year-old will no doubt be important against Arteta’s side, as he looks to break Arsenal’s resistance this weekend.

    Read all about it

    Semi Ajayi features as the headline act in Saturday’s Albion News as we look through his hectic career which featured a stint with our visitors Arsenal.

    The Nigerian defender talks us through how beneficial loans in the lower tiers of English football have been, not just in accelerating his club career, but also in helping to cement himself as an established international for his country.

    Academy boss Richard Stevens and U23s manager Deon Burton highlight the progress of some of Albion’s youngsters coming through, as well as the potential for more loan experiences in the Football League during January.

    You can access the lowdown from behind the scenes by getting your copy, here.

    Follow the game

    Gez Mulholland will be joined by once midfield-now-microphone maestro Andy Johnson to provide proudly partisan commentary and an expert insight for WBA Radio.

    To listen live to Baggies-biased commentary on WBA Radio for free for every home and away match during the 2020/21 season all you have to do is sign up for a free My Albion account.

    If you haven't already you can create your My Albion account here. Click Create Account or register quickly with your Facebook or Google account. 

    Live commentary starts from 15 minutes before kick-off and will be accessible through the live match centre or WBA TV.

    If you have any issues registering or accessing your My Albion account please contact myalbion@wbafc.co.uk.

    The game is also available to watch on BT Sport.

    2nd January

    Albion fell to a 4-0 defeat at home to Arsenal in their first game of 2021.

    Two goals in each half sealed the three points for the Gunners in the snow at The Hawthorns.

    Kieran Tierney and Bukayo Saka put Mikel Arteta’s side in control at the break, before a second-half brace from Alexandre Lacazette put the gloss on the visitors’ victory. 

    Sam Allardyce made two changes to his XI, with Branislav Ivanovic and Matheus Pereira both starting at The Hawthorns.

    The away side had the first opportunity of the game inside the opening ten minutes. England international Saka fired straight at Sam Johnstone from just outside the penalty area.

    Saka continued to cause Albion problems and almost opened the scoring when his curling left-footed effort whistled past the far post, narrowly evading the outstretched leg of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

    But Arsenal weren’t made to wait much longer for the breakthrough. Scotland international Tierney broke down the left, cut inside on to his right foot and unleashed a strike which flew beyond the reach of Johnstone into the top corner midway through the first half.

    And just five minutes later the Gunners made it two. Saka, Lacazette and Emile Smith Rowe were all involved in neat link-up on the edge of the area before the England man tapped in from close range after meeting Smith Rowe’s square ball across the six-yard box.

    The Baggies struggled to carve out opportunities in the first half, but they did go close when Semi Ajayi headed Matt Phillips’ corner wide after 40 minutes. 

    The final attack before the interval saw Lacazette break free down the left and fire at goal from a tight angle, but Albion’s No.1 prevented Arsenal taking a three-goal lead into half time.

    Albion made an encouraging start to the second 45 and had the ball in the back of the net within 90 seconds. Pereira’s initial strike hit the far post and bounced out to Callum Robinson who rifled home from 18 yards, only for the offside flag to go up and deny Allardyce’s men a route back into the contest.

    The points were all but sealed on the hour-mark when Lacazette slotted in a third after Albion failed to successfully clear Saka’s cross from the right. 

    And the French forward was quick to add his second and Arsenal’s fourth moments later, converting Tierney’s pin-point left-wing cross from six yards out.

    Charlie Austin almost grabbed a late consolation with just over ten minutes left, but his effort on the spin from inside the box sailed over the crossbar. 

    The Gunners went close to adding a fifth in the 81st minute but Johnstone pushed away Aubameyang’s shot.

    Substitute Rekeem Harper forced Bernd Leno into a smart save down low to his left in added time in what proved to be the last attack of the encounter.

    ALBION: Johnstone; Furlong, Ajayi, Ivanovic (Bartley 66), O’Shea; Pereira, Phillips © (Harper 81), Gallagher, Sawyers, Diangana (Austin HT); Robinson.

    Subs: Button, Gibbs, Peltier, Krovinovic, Grosicki, Diaby.