Arsene Wenger has called for calm after his side made it 10-straight victories in all competitions with their most impressive win yet in brushing aside high-flying Italians Napoli on Tuesday. The run of results and the nature of the performance, particularly in the first half of their Champions League group match, has led to observers talking up their prospects of winning the Premier League title as well as going far in Europe. But Wenger is keen to remain focused on the here and now and not lose perspective.
"What is important is to put that all into perspective and you know that it's the hype around the game," he said, according to Arsenal’s official website. "It's positive because it shows the huge interest but as well people tend to judge the moment as the definitive situation but you know it's just a photo of the situation, of the moment you talk.
"We want of course to win trophies but that is all to do. The only way we have a chance to do it is to try to focus on the way we play."
Arsenal’s buildup to the game has been disrupted by publicity over Jack Wilshere being photographed with a cigarette outside a London nightclub following the win over Napoli. In his press conference, Wenger explained that he would be talking to the player, who was only selected on the bench in midweek.
"I don't know really what happened [with Jack], I will need to have a chat with him about that," he explained. "I disagree completely with that behavior. There are two things: first of all when you are a football player you are an example, and as well you don't do what damages your health.”
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While Wilshere will hope to come back into the starting lineup, Wenger has confirmed that Bacary Sagna has been ruled out with a hamstring injury until after the international break.
West Brom could hardly come in to the match in better spirits, having scored a memorable 2-1 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford last week. The headline maker from the victory was 20-year-old Saido Berahino, who continued his emergence with a fine winner against the champions. Manager Steve Clarke suggested that the England Under-21 international could now be set for a first Premier League start, although he is keen for the payer to remain grounded.
“Every season there is always someone who bursts onto the scene -- and we’re fortunate it’s Saido,” he said, according to West Brom’s official website. “He was terrific last week and deserves all the plaudits he gets. Our job is to keep his feet on the ground and make sure he continues to improve as a player.
“He’s forced his way into the team -- there’s no two ways about it. You look at the number of forward players we’ve got -- and when I sit down every week to think about the starters for my team, Saido is always in my thoughts. He’s got a chance of starting against Arsenal.”
Clarke’s options could be limited in attack, with Victor Anichebe, Shane Long and Nicolas Anelka all doubtful, while Scott Sinclair and Matej Vydra are ruled out. However, midfielders James Morrison and Chris Brunt are back in contention.
West Brom (probable)
D: Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell
M: Yacob, Mulumbu
Amalfitano, Sessegnon, Berahino
D: Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs
M: Flamini, Ramsey
Rosicky, Ozil, Wilshere
Prediction: Arsenal were superb against Napoli. The first half showed the attacking vigor they now have with the arrival of Mesut Ozil and emergence of Aaron Ramsey, while the second half was equally impressive in showcasing that, with the presence of a genuine defensive midfielder in Mathieu Flamini, they can now take the sting out of their opponents. Against West Brom the double midfield pivot may not been deemed necessary, meaning that Wilshere could return in place of Mikel Arteta.
Arsenal will have to be wary, though, as Manchester United found out to their cost, of the threat West Brom pose on the break from Berahino, Stephane Sessegnon and Morgan Amalfitano. This will certainly not be an easy fixture for Arsenal and it could be where their winning run comes to an end. Still, with their current confidence, Wenger’s side might just record another impressive victory.
West Brom 1-2 Arsenal
Where to watch: The Premier League match will kick-off at 11 a.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by the NBC Sports Network, with a live stream available on NBC Sports Live Extra.