Club News

Morrison: Arsenal gave me 'masterclass'

And midfielder relishing Emirates test almost seven years on

JAMES Morrison is relishing the opportunity to take on Arsenal at the Emirates on Saturday (ko 3pm) almost seven years after learning from a Highbury ‘masterclass’.

The Baggies midfielder’s first-ever meeting with the Gunners came as a 19-year-old and saw him finish on the wrong end of a 7-0 Barclays Premier League drubbing for Middlesbrough in January 2006.

He has since scored in a 1-1 draw at the Emirates for Boro in September 2006 and enjoyed a 3-2 victory with Albion on Gunners soil four years later against Arsene Wenger’s men.

“The 7-0 defeat was a football lesson,” said Morrison.

“I think we played in Europe the week before and then went to their place and it was probably one of the worst games I’ve played in.

“We just couldn’t get the ball off Henry, Pires, Fabregas and players like that.

“It was a great learning curve for all of us, as we had a young side out that day.

“I just wanted to get off the pitch at the end.

“Afterwards you think back to how Arsenal played that day and what they did - it’s how you play the game really.”

He added: “The 1-1 draw is a good memory.

“It was the first season at the Emirates.

“Thierry Henry scored an equaliser late on.

“We defended most of the game, had one chance and took it.

“That was one of Jonathan Woodgate’s first games and he was immense.

“It was one of my first away goals and it was great it came at Arsenal, such a dominant team and force in the Premier League.

“When I won 3-2 there with Albion we played really well and dominated for up to 70 minutes.

“We had a good game plan, stuck with it and got 3-0 up.

“They came back into and you always think when you play Arsenal they are going to get back into it.

“But we stayed strong and that was another great start to the season.

“When you go there you think blimey it is Arsenal.

“They pass the ball to death.

“We were shown a stat the other day that they are still the best passing side in the Premier League.

“We’re just going to have to realise they might dominate possession.

“But this is the best chance we could probably have to get another result and have another fantastic day.”

The Gunners go into the game with last weekend’s 2-0 home defeat by Swansea making it four games without a win.

But their previous top-flight clash at the Emirates Stadium saw them convincingly beat North London rivals Tottenham 5-2.

 “We go with a bit of belief and also a bit cautious,” said Morrison.

“They’re a wounded beast.

“Their home record is normally fantastic.

“It’s probably the first blip they’ve had at home for many seasons.

“We go there full of confidence to play our football and get about them.

“We’ll also have at the back of our minds that it is Arsenal and we need to be careful of them breaking on us.”

Most importantly, the Scotland midfielder is eager to get Steve Clarke’s fifth-placed men back on course after finishing the last two games against Swansea and Stoke pointless.

“Two defeats always puts a bit of a negative vibe in the camp,” he admitted.

“But we know we’re doing well and the head coach is trying to get us back on track.

“We’re looking forward to Arsenal because it’s going to be a tough game – but one we believe we can get something from.

“It’s our first real blip in the season but there is no need to panic.

“The Emirates is a tough place to go but it’s probably the best time to go and play them and after that we go into the Christmas period which sets us up for the season.

“Two seasons ago under [Roberto] Di Matteo this is where we struggled and it really put us into a bad position in the league, which we don’t want to happen again.”