Arsenal go to the Hawthorns on Saturday for an early Premier League clash with West Brom. Arsenal have struggle to find their form in the league so far and with a fresh batch of injuries confirmed following the 2-0 Champions League win over Dortmund in midweek, the squad is starting to look a little bare.
The Gunners do still have a number of players available capable of hurting their opposition. The likes of Alexis Sánchez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be certainly be in the starting line up for the match. It would be easy to select one of these two as my player to watch, but I have someone different in mind.
Tomas Rosicky may also be awarded a start for the team and, although he may be 34, his ability to increase the tempo of game, coupled with his technical ability, he will prove to be a real asset to the team.
There is more good news ahead of the clash as well, as Arsène Wenger confirmed in his press conference that Laurent Koscielny will be available for selection should he want to pick him.
If he does make the team, Koscielny will certainly get my vote as the Arsenal player to watch in the game. Our defensive frailties have been highlighted too many times already this season and the return on Laurent will certainly sure things up.
Naturally, he would return to the team and replace Nacho Monreal, who has been filling in at centre back. That isn’t to say that Nacho has played poorly, though. In fact, I personally think he has out-performed Per Mertesacker.
If the position were predominantly an individual one, I would replace Mertesacker with Koscielny and line him and Monreal up together against The Baggies. But, considering the partnership that Koscielny and Mertesacker have formed, it is the logical choice to pair them up again.
I expect to see a much more mature approach to our defending this weekend, mainly because of Koscielny (if he starts). During our difficult, and embarrassing, defensive displays, Koscielny has been on the sidelines observing. Studying.
You can guarantee that when the team surges forward in attack this weekend, we won’t be left exposed at the back. With two senior centre backs on the pitch, one will take control and guarantee the protection of the goalkeeper.
Don’t expect to see any one-on-one situations reminiscent of the 2-1 defeat to Manchester United last weekend.
Predicted line-up: Martinez; Chambers, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs; Flamini; Chamberlain, Ramsey, Cazorla, Sanchez; Giroud
Giroud is in line for a start, with Welbeck potentially out and Sanogo injured. I expect Wenger to keep the same midfield that destroyed Borussia Dortmund.