WEST BROM fan Daniel McCulloch (@danmcc84) believes there's value backing the Baggies to strike from a set-piece situation in Monday's match at Arsenal.
Arsenal v West Brom | Monday 25th September 2017, 20:00 | Sky Sports
Arsenal entertain West Brom at The Emirates on Monday evening, in what has the potential to be a very tense affair given the current feelings Gunners fans have towards the management at their football club and West Brom’s ability to frustrate opponents (and their own fans)!
Recent results between the two sides in North London should give confidence to Arsenal supporters, however. They have won their last six here against Monday’s visitors and their record at home to teams managed by Tony Pulis is even more favourable.
The Gunners have won all nine encounters against his Albion, Stoke and Crystal Palace sides, with an aggregate score of 20-3 at home. With such a record, I would find it difficult to argue against punters backing them to win ‘to nil’.
West Brom’s set-piece strengths
I do, however, feel that there is better value elsewhere. Firstly, if Albion are to score, it is likely to come from a set-piece.
Pulis played three holding midfielders against Premier League newcomers Brighton a couple of weeks ago, so don’t expect him to go gung-ho against a far more formidable Arsenal outfit.
With the formation and personnel he is likely to play, I really struggle to see the away side creating chances from open play. He is obviously aware of the aerial threat his side poses though and his devotion to set pieces is notorious.
Indeed, only Chelsea bettered West Brom’s 20 goals via this method last season. Additionally, four of the six goals they have scored against Arsenal since Pulis took charge have come in this manner.
With this in mind, Craig Dawson in the anytime goalscorer market takes my fancy at 12/1 with Bet365. When the Black Country side beat Arsenal 3-1 back in March, he scored two of their goals and is likely to be a threat on the rare occasions that Albion are able to ‘send the big lads up from the back'.
Gareth McAuley is shorter at 11/1 but unlike Dawson he is far from a certain starter. There may be a bigger price on the exchange come kick off but at the moment this is the best available.
Card market value
Another long shot I like the look of is ‘either goalkeeper’ in the first booking market. I was at the West Brom game against Swansea on the last day of the season and Ben Foster was time wasting in the first half, with the game still goalless!
Neither side had anything to play for, but this is evidence of the kind of tactics Pulis gets his side to employ away from home. Neither James McClean or Claudio Yacob – Albion’s two biggest nigglers – are likely to start the game so it is hard to see an obvious yellow card candidate.
Given that Arsenal are likely to have around 80% of the ball it is difficult to see them picking up too many cautions so I urge you to take BetVictor up on their offer of 25/1.
Foster has had 10 bookings in his 256 Premier League games so this bet is made with him in mind but should Petr Cech do something stupid, you will also make a tidy profit for a tiny stake.