West Brom vs Arsenal: The nightmare continues for Wenger

After defeats to Bayern Munich and Liverpool, the Gunners must face up to their manager's bogeyman, Tony Pulis

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(Image credit: Marc Mueller / Getty)

Fresh from the trauma of losing 10-2 to Bayern Munich and negotiating the minefield of an FA Cup tie against Lincoln, Arsenal return to the bread and butter of the Premier League with a visit to West Brom on Saturday. It's a game that should reveal a lot about how much damage the Gunners have sustained in the past five weeks.

Arsene Wenger's men haven't won a Premier League match for over a month, but then again they've only played one. That was against Liverpool two weeks ago and they lost it 3-1. Their other results since a victory over Hull in early February are two wins against non-league opposition and two massive defeats against a member of the European elite.

Now Arsenal must face West Brom, managed by Arsene Wenger's nemesis Tony Pulis. It's not a fixture the London club will relish and it's one they cannot afford to lose.

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"An arch-aesthete and philosopher of the game, Wenger deplores teams who try to make the sport a physical battle and engage in what he sees as intimidating skullduggery," says Charlie Eccleshare of the Daily Telegraph. "Step forward Tony Pulis, an uncompromising Welshman who has forged a reputation for making up for his team's technical deficiencies with power and organisation.

Things do not augur well for the Gunners. "Arsenal's record away at Pulis teams is dreadful – played seven, won one, lost four – as if the micro-climate of Pulis-land is too inhospitable for Wenger's delicate sensibilities."

With results going against him and fans calling for his head, the Arsenal boss "probably feels as though he has been living a recurring nightmare over recent weeks", says Goal.com. "Wenger will be hoping to be woken with a start this weekend, but he could just as easily slip deeper into a world of cold sweats.

"Bogeymen are the last thing the beleaguered Gunners boss needs," says the website, but "Tony Pulis is the monster that lives under his bed".

Even victory wouldn't propel Arsenal back into the top four, and the price could be hugely significant for their manager's future and their chances of Champions League football next season.

Paul Merson of Sky Sports calls the fixture a "banana skin" and predicts a draw and so does Mark Lawrenson of the BBC. If that is the result then it could prove more significant than either the thrashings at the hands of Bayern or the wins over Sutton and Lincoln.

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