West Brom v Arsenal: Match Preview

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Football News

Premier League

The Hawthorns

Sunday, May 13. Kick-off: 1500


Arsenal will finish third if they win and may have Theo Walcott available to help them do it. The England winger picked up a hamstring injury in the draw with Chelsea, but has returned early and will have a fitness test on Saturday.


Bacary Sagna has had surgery on the broken leg suffered against Norwich last weekend. The France international will join long-term absentees Abou Diaby, Mikel Arteta, Jack Wilshere and Per Mertesacker on the sidelines.


Roy Hodgson is having his final game in charge of West Brom before taking over as England manager and will be without captain Chris Brunt, who has had an operation to remove his tonsils.


Utility man Paul Scharner will play his final game for the Baggies, while top scorer Peter Odemwingie and former Arsenal trainee Jerome Thomas are both doubts.


Wenger: It’s like last Highbury game


Arsene Wenger has likened this season’s finale to the last ever game at Highbury, when Arsenal had to win to secure a Champions League place.


That day Tottenham Hotspur were victims in the famous ‘Lasagne-gate’ scandal; a virus that caused an number of the squad to fall ill the night before the final game of the season was first blamed on bad a lasagne eaten in the team hotel.


Spurs lost away at West Ham and a Thierry Henry hat-trick in a 4-2 win over Wigan saw the Gunners qualify ahead of their rivals.


This time Wenger’s team need to win once more in order to guarantee their participation in next year’s Champions league competition and the similarities were not lost on the Frenchman.


“It will be a great achievement if we manage to do it. I believe it would be reward for a group which has exceptional strength,” he told Arsenal Player.

“They have come through some difficult times, always recovered and always battled. Therefore I will be extremely delighted when we do it.

“[It reminds me of the final game at Highbury] a little bit because the qualifying was the same, with the Champions League at stake.”


A victory will mean they finish third and go straight in to the Champions League proper, which is something that has become even more crucial with Chelsea making it to the final of this year’s competition.


The Stamford Bridge side are already guaranteed fifth spot, but will take the pace of the team that finishes fourth if they were to win the final.


“There is even more uncertainty because fourth place is not this time necessarily in the Champions League,” warned Wenger.

“Let's make sure we finish third and win our game - that is the only answer we can give. To do that of course you need a full, committed performance from everybody.

“On that front I am quite sure we will get that from our players and then we will have a very good chance to do it.”

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