Match Preview: Central midfielders must be more progressive

Arsenal look to get back to scoring ways after producing their fourth goalless draw in a row against Fulham with a win at West Brom whose style of play should suit the Gunners just fine.

After a stuttering start to the season, Denilson has improved immeasurably while Diaby has shown also why there are high hopes for him but in the absence of skipper Cesc Fabregas either one is yet to step up to the plate creative-wise.

In the program notes against Fulham, Fabregas said of Arsenal; “One of the reasons we haven’t been as dangerous lately is because our first thoughts have often been to pass the ball back. We have to do the opposite. We have to remember that we are wearing one of the most important shirts in the world and be responsible for that, not scared.” Too much has been relied recently on Van Persie, the Dutchman having been involved in all goals Arsenal have scored this year when he has been on the pitch. If not him, then the front four as a whole. If the quartet do not function it seems difficult for the Gunners to find a goal.

Fulham stopped the front four from performing by defending deep but also stretched the play by utilising the forwards high up the pitch therefore denying Arsenal possession in their half. The full time stats read 53% possession for Fulham to Arsenal’s 47% and although the Gunners had greater territorial play, showed the passing was not incisive enough and Fulham were better at reading the ball. Denilson and Diaby like to link play to the forwards but Fabregas feels the two must take more risks around the box. Denilson has already scored three goals this season which shows that risks are not just limited to passing; breaking forward late can open up compact defensive blocks.

It may not matter much against West Brom. The Birmingham side have been too weak in defense and the cover from the midfielders has been non-existent at times. The Baggies like to pass the ball around but have lacked real conviction and because of the Gunners threat likely to play with a five man midfield. Arsenal know this is a great opportunity to get back to winning ways and make up the points with Aston Villa. Arshavin and Vela are the two likely to make way with the only enforced change Djourou for Gallas who has an ankle injury.

Arsenal Likely Line Up (4-2-3-1 )

Sagna – Djourou – Toure (c) – Clichy
Eboue – Diaby
– Denilson – Nasri
Van Persie – Bendtner

Subs from:Fabianski, Song, Gibbs, Ramsey, Arshavin, Vela, Merida.

West Brom Likely Line Up (4-5-1)

Zuiverloon – Donk – Meite
– Robinson (c)
Koren – Morrision– Valero – Greening – Brunt


Subs from: West Brom (from): Kiely, Hoefkens, Barnett, Cech, Kim Do-Heon, Teixeira, Moore, Bednar, Menseguez.


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