The Breakdown

The Breakdown: West Brom v Arsenal preview

We’re back in Premier League action on Sunday when we travel to The Hawthorns to take on West Bromwich Albion.

Ahead of the game, tactical expert Michael Cox and former Gunner Adrian Clarke examine our opponents in detail.


MC: Having previously coached West Ham, Charlton, Newcastle and Crystal Palace, this is now Alan Pardew’s fifth Premier League club. Only four other managers – Sam Allardyce, Harry Redknapp, Mark Hughes and Roy Hodgson – have taken charge of five or more. Pardew’s greatest achievements have arguably been in the FA Cup, reaching the final with both West Ham and Crystal Palace. His task this season, however, is all about avoiding relegation.

AC: It hasn’t been a successful change from Tony Pulis just yet. It such a departure in terms of style that it’s going to take a very long time. They’re used to playing one brand of football but Pardew likes to play a completely different style. It will take a while for his messages to get through and just for the players to get out of certain habits. When you’ve been told to go long and high and work on set-pieces under one manager all the time, when the next manager suddenly wants you to pass in triangles and play with attacking fluidity, it can’t change overnight.


MC: Pardew’s approach so far has been a 4-3-3 that looks more like 4-5-1 as West Brom spend long periods without possession. Salomon Rondon plays as the lone striker, and is always a huge threat in the air, but he’s sometimes struggled to receive adequate service from the wide players.

AC: What I will say about Pardew - the problem he’s got - is that he inherited a squad that’s built for one brand of football that he doesn’t really want to play. They’ve got a lot of big guys, not a lot of attacking flair, so he’s up against it. He needs to bring in the kind of players he needs in January.


MC: West Brom have largely been good defensively under both Pardew and his predecessor Tony Pulis. Jonny Evans remains a fine defender, Ahmed Hegazy has proved a good capture alongside him, while Allan Nyom and former Gunner Kieran Gibbs tuck in tight to play close to the centre backs.


MC: Grzegorz Krychowian, on loan from PSG, is renowned as a tough-tackling defensive midfielder, but he’s also got a fine passing range, and is often the man to start attacks from deep.


MC: West Brom can drop rather too deep without possession, allowing space in deeper positions. Arsenal’s defenders and defensive midfielders might be allowed time to play dangerous balls into the final third. 

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