December 8, 2012
Wenger demands urgent response from Arsenal
Team Stat Comparison
|Arsenal||West Bromwich Albion|
|Goals for *||2.5||1.1|
|Goals against *||1.2||1.7|
|Last 5 home||W-D-D-W-W||D-L-D-L-W|
|Last 5 away||W-W-W-W-W||L-L-W-L-D|
|* Goals per match - home matches for home club and away matches for away club|
|Stats: Arsenal | West Bromwich Albion|
|Arsenal||West Bromwich Albion|
|4/28||H: Newcastle United||4/26||H: West Ham United|
|5/4||H: West Bromwich Albion||5/4||A: Arsenal|
|5/11||A: Norwich City||5/7||A: Sunderland|
|5/11||H: Stoke City|
Manager Arsene Wenger accepts Arsenal have little margin for error if they are to force their way back up the Barclays Premier League table, starting with Saturday's match against West Brom.
The home defeat by Swansea last weekend made it just two wins in eight matches since the international break as the Gunners slumped to 10th place.
While Wenger maintains there is plenty of time left to make up the gap on the top four - which currently stands at five points - the Arsenal manager knows his beleaguered team cannot produce many more below-par performances as they prepare to tackle the fifth-placed Baggie at Emirates Stadium.
"The danger of our situation is the margin for error is very small, but it is also a good opportunity to show we can be consistent, and I believe we can be,'' Wenger said.
"Let's not go overboard. We have 24 games to play, we are in all the competitions, how many clubs would love to [be], so it is down to us to make the season right and to turn the season around well on our side.
"I am confident we will and I believe we have the quality to do it.''
Midfielder Mikel Arteta was one of several first-team regulars to miss the midweek Champions League trip to Olympiacos, where a 2-1 defeat saw the Gunners miss out on top spot in Group B and with it seeding for the last 16.
The Spaniard revealed the squad were determined to put matters right on Saturday, with many having worked overtime at London Colney, analysing recent performances on DVD.
Wenger is confident of the desired response. He said: "There is one thing I don't question and that is the attitude and spirit of this team. But I can say that all day - what is important is that we win the game when we play, and that is what we want to do.
"We were a bit jaded [against Swansea], even if that is not accepted by many players, because we had two away games after the Champions League. I am confident we have refreshed and can show that.
The Gunners will be without forwards Lukas Podolski (hamstring) and Theo Walcott (calf).
Defender Bacary Sagna (foot) is a major doubt, but Laurent Koscielny (thigh) is definitely out.
Full-back Andre Santos (stomach muscle) and midfielder Abou Diaby (thigh) continue their rehabilitation.
Steve Clarke expects a positive response from West Brom after their mini-slump but insists what they achieve over an entire season is how success or failure should be judged.
The Baggies are looking to bounce back from successive defeats against Swansea and Stoke after previously climbing to third spot in the Barclays Premier League.
It has led to critics questioning whether Albion have the credentials to sustain their flying start although Clarke is adamant there have been no idle boasts from within the squad.
Head coach Clarke said: "I'm not looking for a response, I'm expecting it because that's what they've done before. We've had two defeats before this season, then we lost two games in the space of four days last week.
"It is not a disaster in terms of the whole picture and what we are trying to do this season. It is the Premier League and it is a difficult place to win week in and week out.
"Even the top sides don't win every week. There is no reason to expect you should win every game.
"It's a league where you can have a run of difficult results. Our aim is to make sure we get back on a positive footing as soon as possible with a good performance at the Emirates this weekend.''
Clarke added: "We've never said that we are a top-six side, we've never said anything about the team.
"All we've said is that we are a good, honest, hard-working bunch, we know we can compete in the Premier League and we try to do that every week.
"We haven't tried to pigeonhole ourselves at all. We are working towards the whole season - not a bunch of five or six fixtures. We work towards the points total for the whole season.''
Clarke has virtually a full squad to choose from.
Goalkeeper Ben Foster is the only absentee as he continues his rehabilitation work after undergoing a second groin operation, with Boaz Myhill again deputising.
Clarke has to decide whether to recall the likes of striker Peter Odemwingie and midfielders James Morrison and skipper Chris Brunt, who were rested for last weekend's encounter with Stoke.