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1) How would you compare the season pre Pulis and post Pulis so far?

There's no comparison to be honest. Under previous boss Alan Irvine we were heading for relegation without doubt. On his appointment he became possibly our most unpopular manager ever and he did nothing to change that with poor performances and results throughout his spell with the club. He comes across as a dour, somewhat boring kind of guy and his personality was reflected in our performances. It really wasn't much fun for anyone.

 

After Irvine's dismissal most Baggies' fans felt we needed a strong character in charge to sort out the mess left by not only Irvine, but previous bosses Pepe Mel and Steve Clarke too. The majority of supporters were therefore happy when Pulis was the man chosen by club owner Jeremy Peace.

 

The difference he has made is huge. Whilst performances, especially away from home haven't always been great, he has made us an extremely difficult team to beat, as Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool have all found out recently. He's lifted the mood around The Hawthorns massively and after two years of doom and gloom hopefully brighter times are ahead for the club.

2) Who has been your best player of the season so far and why?

For me there's three candidates.

 

Saido Berahino - The young striker has grabbed most of the headlines this season, not always for the right reasons it has to be said. Away from the 'nonsense' he has been generally excellent for us this season. His goals have been absolutely vital for us and if he does leave in the summer he will be a massive loss for us.

 

Joleon Lescott - Our 'marquee' signing of last summer came with a big reputation and has lived up to it. Over the season he has been consistently good and has probably had just one or two bad games. Although his best years have probably now gone he is still a class act. This week he picked up the supporters' club player of the season award which shows the impact he has had.

 

James Morrison - I haven't always been a fan of the Scotland international but this season, especially since the arrival of Pulis, he has been superb. Hardworking, skilful and quite often the driving force of our team. For that he's my 'player of the season'.

3) You have picked up some good results in recent weeks, especially last weeks beating of Chelsea. What do you put the good form down to?

Organisation and confidence, I think it really is as simple as that. Away from home we generally set-up to come home with a point which doesn't always make for good viewing but with recent wins at Crystal Palace and Old Trafford it's a tactic that has worked well. At home we are a little more adventurous but still maintain a strong defensive ethos.

 

I have to say we've also had a little bit of luck in recent weeks which perhaps wasn't there earlier in the season

4) Will that victory give you even more confidence coming into the game today?

I think so. The team were already pretty confident following recent results but the Chelsea game was the one that has made people really sit up and take notice of the job Tony Pulis is doing at The Hawthorns.

5) How do you think West Brom will approach the game? Will you sit back or will you be trying to put us under pressure?

As mentioned previously our normal tactic away from home under Pulis is to set up defensively and try to ensure we come home with at least a point. I see no reason to suggest that we will do anything differently today. I don't think anyone is naïve enough to think we can go 'toe to toe' with the Gunners, I think we all know what the outcome of that would be.

6) Which West Brom players do you think can cause Arsenal problems?

Our main threat of course is Saido Berahino. Whilst his goal tally is impressive there is much more to his game than just scoring. He can hold the ball up well and his link-up play is also good. It's easy to see why the country's top clubs are 'sniffing' around him.


Callum Mcmanaman, if he features, is also capable of causing problems for most teams. We haven't seen a great deal of him since his move from Wigan but in the glimpses we have seen of him he looks to possess pace, skill and trickery, a nightmare for opposition defenders.

7) Which Arsenal players do you worry about the most before the game?

All of them! With the talent you've got at the Emirates it continually amazes me that you are not more successful. The stand-out names for me are Sanchez and Ramsey but like I say the team is full of quality. It's certainly going to be a tough afternoon for us.

8) Any other thoughts?

Up until about Christmas the majority of Baggies' fans expected this game to be our farewell to the Premier League so to be going into the game sitting comfortably in mid-table is an unexpected and quite pleasing bonus. Hopefully we will give a good account of ourselves and hopefully the Gunners will have one eye on next week's cup final. Whilst I'm not expecting a win today I think given our recent form we are more than capable of coming back to the Midlands with a point.

 

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Thanks to Mark for the answers. You can also catch my thoughts over on his excellent blog www.albiontillwedie.co.uk

 

  • 15 Sep 2015
    So let me stop reminiscing of days gone by and let me focus on our Welsh wonder. Let me start off by saying that I think it is quite obvious that Aaron Ramsey is better in central midfield. His partnership with Mesut Özil, his running from deep and his underrated ball winning ability makes him a ...Read more