Preview: Arsenal vs West Bromwich Albion

Arsenal will be targeting a return to winning ways when they welcome West Brom to the Emirates in Thursday night’s solitary Premier League fixture.

Having initially struggled upon his return from the hamstring injury that had sidelined him since the end of November, Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez has enjoyed a superb run of form in the past six weeks. The Chile international has three assists and four goals to his name in his last six Premier League appearances, making him a key man for the Gunners on Thursday night.

Youngster Alex Iwobi failed to shine in the 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace at the weekend, but netted two goals and two assists in the three prior matches.

For West Brom, meanwhile, striker Salomon Rondon and midfielder Stephane Sessegnon are bound to be the danger men. Since bagging the match-winner in a 1-0 triumph over Manchester United on 6 March, Rondon has failed to find the back of the net, however, while Sessegnon is the only player to have found the back of the net in the four match that followed.

Arsenal’s title hopes were dealt a damaging blow after defeats to Manchester United and Swansea City, with Arsene Wenger’s men recording two wins and three draws in the matches that followed.

Their most recent result, a 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace, has heaped more pressure on the club as fifth-placed Manchester United edge close to the London club in the league standings. However, a win on Thursday would lift the Gunners into third place and two points clear of Manchester City with four games remaining.

The Baggies have all but secured their league safety with several games to spare, but manager Tony Pulis will undoubtedly be concerned by his side’s recent run of form, especially after the morale-boosting victory over the Red Devils at the start of March.

A 1-0 defeat to Watford last time out stretched their winless run to four matches, leaving them 10 points clear of the dreaded drop zone.

Ahead of the clash, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has called on the club’s supporters to get behind the team.

“I want our fans to be happy and when they are not, it affects me,” he said. “You do not want to play in a negative environment; if we do, we can still perform.

“We are responsible for the performance of the team and it is true that, at the moment, it is not a highlight but we have to take a distance with that.

“I hope in the next years, Arsenal will always play in the top three and, hopefully, people won’t get disenchanted.”

Baggies manager Tony Pulis, meanwhile, is hoping to continue his good record against the Gunners, but admits it will be a tough task away from home.

“I have got quite a good record against Arsenal but on home soil, not away. It would be nice to go there and get a result,” Pulis told reporters.

“But Arsenal can beat any team in Europe on their day. And I think Arsene (Wenger) has been incredibly unlucky with injuries this season. He has missed big players at important times.

“Once all those players are fit, he has got a strong enough squad to win this league.

“He will be disappointed with the inconsistency but all the other clubs will be saying the same thing apart from Leicester and Tottenham.”

Wenger has an almost fully-fit squad at his disposal, with only Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee) on the treatment table.

However, Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky are not expected to feature after recently returning to first-team training.

West Brom have no new injury or suspensions to contend with.

Alex Pritchard (hip/thigh) remains doubtful, while long-term injury victims Chris Brunt and James Morrison (hamstring) remain on the treatment table.

Striker Saido Berahino is likely to retain a starting berth despite missing two penalties in the 1-0 defeat to Watford.

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