West Brom v Arsenal preview: Matt Phillips out while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain faces fitness test
Last Updated: 18/03/17 11:43am
Matt Phillips is out of West Brom's Sky Live clash with Arsenal, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain faces a late fitness test for the Gunners.
Arsenal travel to the Hawthorns sitting five points off fourth-placed Liverpool, but having played two games less.
West Brom are eighth, seven points off seventh after losing their last two games.
Arsenal stumbled in the Black Country last season, losing 2-1 as Santi Cazorla missed a late penalty.
West Brom winger Phillips has missed the last three games with a hamstring problem and will be joined on the sidelines by James Morrison who is nursing an ankle knock.
Salomon Rondon could be recalled to the starting line-up after the striker, who is on a 13-game run without a goal, was a second-half substitute in last Saturday's 3-0 defeat to Everton.
England midfielder Oxlade-Chamberlain was forced off in the 5-0 FA Cup quarter-final win over Lincoln last weekend with a hamstring problem but it was more of a precaution and he could be involved at The Hawthorns.
Danny Welbeck and Alex Iwobi have overcome illness but Kieran Gibbs is a doubt with an unspecified knock, while Mohamed Elneny (ankle) and Santi Cazorla (Achilles) are out.
Tony Pulis has won only one of his last nine Premier League matches against Arsenal (D2 L6), although it came in this fixture last season at the Hawthorns (2-1).
Pulis has only lost one of his six previous Premier League home games against Arsenal and Arsene Wenger (W3 D2 L1) and is unbeaten in the last four.
Arsenal have scored in all 21 of their Premier League meetings with West Brom; their best such 100 per cent record in the competition.
The Gunners have lost just one of their last 12 Premier League games against West Brom, winning nine (D2 L1).
All three of Olivier Giroud's Premier League goals versus the Baggies have been headers; with two of those proving to be match-winning strikes (Boxing Day 2016 and May 2014).
James Morrison has found the back of the net in two of his last three Premier League games against Arsenal at the Hawthorns.
West Brom have currently suffered 599 home defeats in their league history - only Notts County (633) have lost more since 1888.
West Brom are always difficult to beat at home. I know Palace beat them the other week at home and they have had a couple of bad results, but it will be a hard game for Arsenal.
Arsenal will have to defend very well at set plays and I think this could be a bit of a banana skin for Arsenal and I am going to go 2-2, which will be a nightmare result for their top-four hopes.
You always think Arsenal are going to be vulnerable from set plays, they are not the biggest team in the world, so Arsene Wenger will probably have to play Olivier Giroud in this game, even if he does not want to.
So you are sort of changing your team for the other team and I would be surprised if Giroud does not play in this game, in fact I would be shocked if I am being honest.
It is a good time to play West Brom, but at the same time, they are safe and will want to put on a show for their fans, there is no doubt about that. They had a go against Palace, and Palace caught them on the counter with their last one, but it was not one of those games where they got absolutely battered.
They are at home, playing Arsenal, and this is what the fans turn up for week in, week out. And Tony Pulis will make sure they are not going to lie down for anybody.
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-2 (14/1 with Sky Bet)
Arsene Wenger's men head into the weekend as 5/4 fifth favourites for a top-four finish while the Baggies are out to 15/2 to finish above seventh-placed Everton following last weekend's Goodison Park loss.
Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud share favouritism in the first goalscorer betting at 7/2 apiece, while Salomon Rondon is considered the hosts' main threat at 7/1.