West Bromwich Albion manager Sam Allardyce is challenging his players to cause an upset when they travel to the Emirates Stadium to lock horns with Arsenal this evening, insisting that his side will arrive in north London willing to attack.
The Baggies, who were swept aside by Arsenal in the reverse fixture at the Hawthorns earlier this season, losing 4-0 back in January, are in real danger of suffering an immediate return to the Championship unless they can pull something out of the bag in their remaining matches.
With four games left to play, the Midlands outfit are ten points from safety, meaning a defeat at the Emirates Stadium will see them join Sheffield United in dropping down into the second-tier.
But despite failing to win any of their last three matches, Baggies chief Allardyce is refusing to let go of the glimmer of hope they still have, as he is challenging his players to get the better of an Arsenal side who are likely to still be deflated following Thursday evening’s UEFA Europa League exit at the hands of Villarreal.
“We’ve got to try and win it,” Allardyce told West Brom’s club website. “It doesn’t matter how we win, we just need to win.
“Is it a mistake from them? Is it a set-piece from us? Is it a great goal? Is it a Callum Robinson inspired performance like it was at Chelsea? Whatever it might be, we just need to try and achieve a shock victory.
“I don’t want to hear any talk of where Arsenal are this season or how they have been performing. If we go there and pick up three points, it would be a huge scalp.
“We shocked Liverpool. We shocked Man United here at The Hawthorns. We obviously shocked Chelsea.
“I’d like the players to perform at their peak level of performance, which was those three games I’ve just mentioned.
“It’ll be a hard task, but they’ve got to try and achieve it.
“As unlikely as it might be, we still have to believe we can win all four and the teams above us can lose all four and that has to start against Arsenal.
“I said that for the last two games against Villa and Wolves and it didn’t happen, but I’ll keep saying it until it’s not mathematically possible for us to stay up anymore.”
Although the two sides are separated by 23 points in the table, Arsenal have stuttered when it has come to playing on their own turf this season, losing seven times on their own patch. As well as that, they have failed to win any of their last six at the Emirates Stadium in all competitions.
With that said, Allardyce knows there is a chance if he can mastermind another tactical away performance.
The West Brom boss continued: “We’re up against Arsenal at their home ground and it’s up to us to make sure our tactics are spot on to give us the best chance of winning the game.
“I don’t want to be sitting back in our final third for too long because that puts extra pressure on us and means an error in that area gives them an opportunity to score.
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“We will have to defend that area on some occasions, but we will try and defend higher up the pitch and win the ball back higher up in attacking areas.
“The more we can win the ball back higher up the pitch, the easier it is to create chances to score. When that chance comes along, we have to bag it.
“If we can get the first goal, it could make Arsenal nervous given the fact they’ve just been knocked out the UEFA Europa League.
“We need to see if there are any advantages we can take from that to try and open them up from there.”