West Bromwich Albion v Arsenal

Scouting Report - West Bromwich Albion

Before every Arsenal fixture, we’ll bring you a Scouting Report on the Gunners’ next opponents.

Arsène Wenger's side face West Brom on Saturday. To find out more, we asked tactical expert Michael Cox.


West Bromwich Albion have made a decent start to the 2014/15 campaign, and should provide a good test for Arsenal in Saturday’s early kick-off.

"They attempt a higher percentage of their shots from outside the box than any other Premier League side"

Alan Irvine’s side play a classic modern 4-2-3-1, with the wingers dropping back to form a second bank of four when the opposition have the ball. This should be their shape for long periods, although they have averaged 53 per cent of possession at the Hawthorns this season.

Defensively, West Brom concentrate on being compact and denying space between the lines; they’re not proactive without possession, but they don¹t drop particularly deep either.

Centre backs Craig Dawson and Joleon Lescott are good in the air, but less happy against pace. The full backs get forward when possible, although might hold their position to guard against quick attacks here.

Joleon Lescott: Less happy against pace

Joleon Lescott

Andre Wisdom is a regular on the right, while Sebastien Pocognoli and Chris Baird have shared left-back duties. Christian Gamboa, who impressed with his forward running for Costa Rica at the World Cup, is often a supersub.

In midfield, Claudio Yacob is suspended after his red card at Stamford Bridge, although that was his first start of the campaign anyway, because Irvine has attempted to bring more guile to the midfield. James Morrison and Craig Gardner have generally played in the deep roles, although Youssouf Mulumbu could be selected for his extra defensive ability.

The wide players should be Graham Dorrans - an underrated, intelligent user of the ball - on the right, with Chris Brunt on the left. He¹s a devilish crosser and excels from set-pieces too.

Saido Berahino, a quick striker who has previously caused Arsenal problems, will run the channels with Stephane Sessegnon a threat on the counter-attack just behind. His direct dribbling can be dangerous, with his heatmap from last year's fixture showing the zones he likes to work in.

Sessegnon's heatmap from last season's fixture

Sessegnon's heatmap from last season's fixture

Perhaps the most interesting thing about West Brom is the nature of their shots and goals.

They attempt a higher percentage of their shots from outside the box than any other Premier League side - 57 per cent, with Brunt, Morrison and Gardner particularly dangerous from range.

Meanwhile, they have scored 13 times in the league, but only five have been scored by a Baggies player in open play, with four set-piece goals, three penalties, and one own goal. Brunt¹s corners, in particular, are a great weapon.

It’s also worth noting that after 12 games, Berahino - with seven goals - is the only player to have struck more than once. Arsenal’s priority must be to stop the in-form striker.

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