European success might bring domestic gains for Arsenal

By Ian Winrow ,AFP

WEST BROMWICH, England — Per Mertesacker believes Arsenal’s midweek European success will provide the ideal springboard to get back on track in the Premier League against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday. After a difficult period that once again raised questions about Arsene Wenger’s long-term future as manager, the Gunners lifted some of the gloom around the Emirates Stadium with a 2-0 victory against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Wednesday. The dominant display secured Arsenal’s place in the last 16 of Europe’s elite club competition for the 15th successive year and now Gunners defender Mertesacker hopes they can kick-start their domestic campaign when they visit the Hawthorns to face Alan Irvine’s men. Despite Mertesacker’s confidence, Arsenal’s return to winning ways against Dortmund was quickly overshadowed by confirmation Jack Wilshere will be out for three months. Less than 24 hours after the Champions League victory, Wilshere underwent an operation on an ankle injury suffered in last weekend’s home defeat to Manchester United. The loss of the England midfielder will be keenly felt, with Wilshere one of the few players to have avoided criticism during the recent, disappointing run �X which saw Arsenal slip to eighth in the league after successive defeats against United and Swansea condemned them to their worst start for 30 years. With Mikel Arteta also sidelined with a calf problem picked up against Dortmund, Wenger is running short of midfield options. And the Gunners suffered another blow when France Under-21 striker Yaya Sanogo, introduced for his first start since August, was forced off with a hamstring problem after scoring the opening goal against the German side.

Brush with the Law Meanwhile, West Brom manager Irvine insists Saido Berahino is in the right frame of mind to face Arsenal despite his recent brush with the law. It came to light earlier this week that the 21-year-old, part of England’s most recent squad, was last month arrested for drink-driving. Albion themselves only found out about the incident on Monday and are now carrying out their own investigation The Burundi-born player was stopped after traveling at ��high speed�� on a motorway in the early hours of the morning on Oct. 22. It is not the first time that the player �X who is the highest-scoring Englishman in the Premier League this term with seven goals �X has found himself at the center of controversy. He was pictured inhaling laughing gas earlier this year and last season was punched by team-mate James Morrison during a furious dressing-room row after a draw with Cardiff. Morrison (illness) is a doubt, while Jonas Olsson (Achilles) is out after undergoing surgery.