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McNicholas: Arsenal's ex factor

Ex Files 3 hours ago
Read
Sep 24, 2013

West Brom hope for Sessegnon lift

West Bromwich Albion believe they are on the cusp of a long-term climb up the table -- in no small part thanks to the arrival of Stephane Sessegnon.

Stephane Sessegnon put West Brom in front against Sunderland, scoring on his debut against his former club.
Stephane Sessegnon scored the opener in the demolition of Sunderland.

Evans: Amalfitano shines

On the eve of Wednesday's Capital One Cup clash with Arsenal at The Hawthorns, the Baggies management have hailed the impact of Sessegnon after his goal-scoring debut against former club Sunderland on Saturday.

The forward hit the opener in Albion's 3-0 victory, which led to Sunderland boss Paolo Di Canio’s dismissal on Sunday.

"Sess is the type of player this club needed desperately," West Brom assistant head coach Kevin Keen said on Tuesday afternoon. "He can beat people, do things off the cuff and score goals. If you're one of the clubs in the middle of the Premier League or just below, you need those players who can open doors and win games. I think he's a fantastic player.

"I don't think we will need to change our style or he will have to change his. I think he fits us quite nicely."

Asked if he was surprised by Di Canio’s dismissal, he said: "A bit, yes, but is anything a surprise anymore? It's part of the territory if you are a manager and you don't win games. Whichever club you're at, you're going to be in trouble."

Sessegnon, who is free to play in Wednesday's third-round tie having missed Sunderland's home victory over Milton Keynes Dons at the last stage, followed two other recent Hawthorns arrivals, Victor Anichebe and Morgan Amalfitano, into Steve Clarke's line-up.

Keen is not surprised the trio have made a quick impact, with Albion picking up four points from games against Fulham and Sunderland.

"We felt we played really well and deserved the 3-0 win on Saturday," he added. "There were a couple of really good performances from the new lads and it was great to get off the mark with our first Premier League win.

"The atmosphere has been a little bit better since the weekend win than in previous weeks. We hadn't played that well at home... against Southampton and Swansea, we didn't do ourselves justice.

"It wasn't just relief on Saturday. Our supporters are now thinking we might do well this season. With Morgan and Stephane, you could see gelling wasn't a problem. We have some talented, skilful footballers.

"They are bright players, mostly internationals, so I think the gelling will come quite naturally.

"The club gave us a couple of gold nuggets on deadline day and we hope we can produce some good football and score the goals which will enable us to win games."

Clarke has been on record more than once in stressing that Albion should be capable of going a long way in knockout football.

The pairing with Arsenal is an obvious test of those ambitions but Keen has reinforced the view that the game is by no means being seen as low priority in the countdown to Saturday's League visit to Manchester United.

"A cup run would be fantastic," he said. "Ask the Swansea supporters or the Wigan supporters. For the supporters of West Brom, any sort of cup run, certainly getting anywhere near the final, makes it really exciting.

"Arsenal are under a bit of pressure because they've not won a major trophy for a while. I think it's a good draw for us because the crowd will get behind us. I like the game.

"You can't knock Arsene Wenger's achievements. He has been magnificent and has been working under financial restrictions and they have now come through that. With Ozil, they are going to be up there.

"They have always had really talented players coming through and it doesn't weaken them that much if they play some of them against us. They may do that.

"We also have international players who have been our bench and we have some really talented players ready to come in if Steve decides to do that.

"Losing to QPR last season in the FA Cup and to Liverpool in the Capital One Cup was really disappointing and we want to have a real crack at it. We will have a real go and we want to win things for the supporters. They want us to play in semi-finals and go to Wembley and the players want to be remembered for winning things."

Although midfielders Zoltan Gera and George Thorne and forward Matej Vydra are still short of full fitness, Shane Long is pushing hard for a recall on Wednesday and defender Steven Reid is also available for selection.

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