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According to Paul Merson, Arsenal should have rivalled West Bromwich Albion to the signing of midfielder Gareth Barry this summer.

Having joined the Baggies from Everton for £1m, Barry has proved he is still capable of playing at the top level – with a lot of experience behind him, the midfielder is set to break Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs all-time Premier League appearance record on Monday night against the Gunners.

Having registered in 636 Premier League matches, it was a surprise to see Everton let him go so easily – and Merson was surprised that other teams, in particular his own former side Arsenal, did not rival the Midlands club for his signature.

Barry has settled in well to life at the Hawthorns, proving to be a pivotal player in Tony Pulis’s re-shaped midfield. Partnered with Paris Saint-Germain loanee Grzegorz Krychowiak, the Baggies now have two very experienced and talented midfielders that suit the team’s robust playing style.

Speaking on Sky Sports, Merson credited Barry’s ability to recycle possession, saying: “He gets the ball, moves it quickly, he doesn’t mess about. He’d give it to [Mesut] Ozil, give it to [Alexis] Sanchez. He’s never going to go anywhere, always going to stay where he is. He’s an unbelievable buy for West Brom.”

Arsene Wenger revealed in his pre-match conference that tried to sign Barry in the past. Prior to Barry joining Manchester City from Aston Villa in 2009, Wenger was seriously interested in signing the England international but missed out. Barry went on to win the league with Manchester City, adding to the list of Wenger’s transfer failures.

With Jack Wilshere registering his first Arsenal start mid-week against Doncaster Rovers, Wenger will be hoping that he can fill a similar role to Barry in the passing department. With Granit Xhaka also at this disposal – the Frenchman has the players able to fill this role but has been unable to unlock the full potential of these midfielders just yet.

The former Everton midfielder is expected to start for West Brom when they take on Arsenal at the Emirates on Monday (25 September).

We will be looking to strengthen our near-perfect home record against West Brom when the teams meet on Monday Night Football.

Arsenal have won each of last six Premier League home meetings against West Brom – scoring 13 goals and conceding just one.

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