Before every Arsenal fixture, we’ll bring you a Scouting Report on the Gunners’ next opponents.
Arsène Wenger's side visit West Brom in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday, to find out more, we asked tactical expert Michael Cox and journalist Steve Madeley for their views.
West Bromwich Albion endured an extremely difficult start to the campaign, taking until stoppage time at the end of their fourth league match to register their first goal of 2013/14.
However, after Saturday’s confident 3-0 victory over Sunderland, the Baggies might prove difficult opponents for Arsenal.
West Brom play in a fairly defensive-minded 4-2-3-1 system, with Clarke emphasising the importance of getting two solid banks of four behind the ballMichael Cox
It remains to be seen what sort of starting XI Steve Clarke calls upon. In the previous round, a straightforward 3-0 victory over Newport, he made a raft of changes. It’s unlikely he’ll name an unchanged side from the Sunderland win, but he probably won’t feel so comfortable about resting so many star players against the Premier League leaders.
All three goals against Newport were scored by centre forward Saido Berahino, a highly-rated 20-year-old forward who has only appeared as a substitute in the Premier League.
He would be something of an unknown quantity up front, and Arsenal’s centre backs must be aware of his intelligent movement into the channels and his lightning pace in behind the defence, should he be handed another start.
However, with Shane Long, Markus Rosenberg, Nicolas Anelka and Victor Anichebe all seeking playing time - and goals - Clarke has plenty of options.
West Brom play in a fairly defensive-minded 4-2-3-1 system, with Clarke emphasising the importance of getting two solid banks of four behind the ball. They are relatively passive without possession, dropping deep into their own half rather than pressing intensely in midfield.
Arsenal will need to be patient in possession, and must be aware of the Baggies’ counter-attacks, which are launched at speed down the flanks. Scott Sinclair and Morgan Amalfitano, two new arrivals on the left and right wing respectively, are particularly dangerous on the break.
The central midfielders - probably two of James Morrison, Chris Brunt, Claudio Yacob and Youssuf Mulumbu - concentrate on playing calmly from side to side, although the first two offer a long-range shooting threat too.
I think it will be a bit of a mixture of first XI players and squad players that will play against Arsenal. There's an element of thinking ahead with the trip to Old Trafford on Saturday so Steve Clarke will have that in the back of his mind when picking his team for this game.
Until Saturday, West Brom's performances this season hadn't been great. But their two away games against Everton and Fulham had promising signsSteve Madeley
I can't see too many players who will start at Old Trafford being involved from the start against Arsenal. Having said that, late in the transfer window the Baggies did some very good business so they've probably got the strongest squad they've ever had in the Premier League and a second-string team that can compete in games like this one.
The Capital One Cup is something that a team like West Brom should be taking seriously, particularly when you look at Swansea City's success last season. Saido Berahino, who scored a hat-trick in the last round against Newport County, has been quoted as saying that Steve Clarke has namechecked Swansea, saying if they can do it then certainly West Brom can. And then you've also got Wigan's FA Cup win last season to inspire the team to achieve a similar feat.
Until Saturday, West Brom's performances this season hadn't been great. But their two away games against Everton and Fulham had promising signs. Everton was a bit of a backs-to-the-wall performance and Fulham was a very even game and they rescued a point late on. The two home defeats to Swansea and Southampton were very poor performances.
They perhaps were a little fortunate to come up against a Sunderland side who were obviously in a fair bit of turmoil but their performance certainly merited three points and their attacking side of the game was much improved. Another encouraging sign was all of their summer signings looked like they were starting to gel on Saturday.
West Brom's strengths this season certainly lie in the attacking areas. If they can keep their first-choice back four fit then they look like a solid outfit but the jury is still out on that area. They also have lot of options in the wide areas.
I think it will be an open game because Arsenal generally play open football, as do West Brom, particularly at home. It wouldn't surprise me if it went to extra-time and penalties, and if it does then you've got to back the home team to win in the shoot-out.Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 25 Sep 2013