West Brom have dropped within three points of the relegation places after suffering back-to-back 2-0 losses at home to Newcastle United on Nov. 9 and away to Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea last Saturday.
The Baggies fell two goals down after just 25 minutes against Premier League leaders Chelsea, and when defender Claudio Yacob was shown a straight red for a two-footed challenge on Blues striker Diego Costa just before the half-hour mark, Albion looked as though they were facing a heavy defeat.
However, a combination of stubborn defending and Chelsea’s decision to take their foot off the gas in the second half ahead of midweek Champions League action saw Albion maintain that scoreline.
West Brom Alan Irvine was delighted with his team’s rearguard action at Stamford Bridge.
“Jose said immediately after the game that it was a magnificent performance with 10 players and I have to agree with him on the defensive side,” Irvine told his club’s official website. “From an attacking point of view we would have wanted an awful lot more but it was a tough task already that was made an awful lot tougher.
“What I spoke to the players about at half-time was making sure we were together as a team throughout, regardless of what happened.”
Eighth-place Arsenal lost their last two Premier League matches, 2-1 at Swansea and 2-1 at home to Manchester United, but have had success in Europe.
The Gunners made it through to the second stage of the Champions League for the 15th successive season after beating Borussia Dortmund 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday with goals from Yaya Sanogo and Alexis Sanchez.
Gunners defender Per Mertesacker has called on his Arsenal teammates to build on their victory against Dortmund when they travel to The Hawthorns.
“We were very convincing (against Dortmund),” Mertesacker told his club’s official website. “We have to show character and that is what makes me really happy for the next few games, because we have to sharpen up in the Premier League as well.
“Saturday is a good chance to show everyone that we are still alive. We have secured Champions League (last-16) football and that gives us a life, but that has nothing to do with the Premier League.”
West Brom will be without the suspended Yacob, while centre-back Jonas Olsson will be out at least four more weeks with Achilles trouble.
Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere is facing three months out following surgery on his left ankle, while fellow playmakers Mikel Arteta and Mezut Ozil, defender Mathieu Debuchy and forward Theo Walcott are also injured.
Arsenal took four points off the Baggies last season, and also beat them in the League Cup. The Gunners drew 1-1 at West Brom in October as Wilshere scored just past the hour mark to cancel out a Yacob goal. That match came 11 days after the Gunners knocked West Brom out of the League Cup on penalties at The Hawthorns. Thomas Eisfield scored for Arsenal on the hour mark, only for Saido Berahino to equalise for the Baggies 10 minutes later. Arsenal advanced 4-3 on penalties. The Gunners beat West Brom 1-0 at the Emirates in May as Olivier Giroud scored the game’s only goal after 14 minutes.
The all-time Premier League record is Arsenal 11 wins, West Brom two wins and three draws, with the Gunners outscoring Albion 34-17 in the 16 meetings.