I choose not to read much into the unfortunate and meaningless 0-2 Emirates Football League Cup defeat at home to Southampton. However, I was miffed that our unbeaten run since August came to an end. I wanted the fairy tale run to continue but with Wenger making 10 changes, I wasn’t surprised by the result. On Saturday evening, we head to West London for a tough English Premier League match against West Ham United at the London Olympic Stadium.
- West Ham were unbeaten against Arsenal last season (W1 D1), something they hadn’t done since 2006/07.
- The Gunners didn’t lose any of their final eight league trips to Upton Park (W6 D2).
- West Ham have let in two or more goals in each of their last seven home Premier League games against Arsenal.
- Arsenal have conceded five goals across their last two league meetings with West Ham; as many as they had in their previous nine beforehand.
- Theo Walcott has scored five goals against West Ham in the Premier League; the most against any opponent he has faced.
- West Ham have lost 25 Premier League games against Arsenal; their joint-most against a single opponent in the competition along with Man Utd.
- Dimitri Payet has created 46 chances in the Premier League this season, at least 11 more than any player.
- Arsenal’s last nine Premier League goals against West Ham have all been scored by different players (Koscielny, Sánchez, Özil, Flamini, Ramsey, Giroud, Welbeck, Cazorla and Podolski).
- West Ham have dropped more points from winning positions this season than any other Premier League side (10).
- Olivier Giroud has been involved in more Premier League goals from the bench than any other player this season (three goals, one assist).
- Arsenal have been trailing for just 73 minutes in Premier League matches this season; fewer than any other team.
(Stats Courtesy: Statszone)
West Ham will be without top scorer Michail Antonio (Huge relief) and full back Aaron Cresswell who both suffered groin injuries in the EFL Cup game against Manchester United. Diafra Sakho is out for the long term but Striker Andy Carroll and Arthur Masuaku are fit.
Arsenal lost Mathieu Debuchy to a hamstring injury last Sunday; Olivier Giroud is a huge doubt with a minor groin strain. Santi Cazorla suffered a setback to his achilles tendon injury and will miss the next three months (kill me please). Per Mertesacker and Danny Welbeck are long term injury absentees.
HOW BOTH TEAMS WILL LINE UP
Last season in this fixture, West ham went route one by starting Andy Carroll who battered our defence aerially and scored a hat-trick in an eventful 3-3 draw. I expect Slaven Bilic to employ similar tactics.
Goalkeeper Randolph will retain his place behind Fernandes, Winston Reid, Angelo Ogbonna and Arthur Masuaku. Captain Mark Noble should return to partner Cheikh Kouyate in central midfield. Dimitri Payet, Manuel Lanzini, Andre Ayew and Andy Carroll will lead the attack.
Arsenal will recall Petr Cech, Shkodran Mustafi, Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal back to the defence. Carl Jenkinson remains a liability so, I expect Gabriel Paulista to continue at right back as against Bournemouth. Granit Xhaka will certainly start and will play alongside Francis Coquelin as Mohamed Elneny is ruled out. Mesut Ozil is untouchable. Alex iwobi was impressive in midweek but i think Wenger will retain the trio of Theo Walcott, Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain and Alexis Sanchez in attack.
West Ham are currently 16th and they could drop to the relegation zone if they lose to Arsenal. They got a positive result at Old Trafford last weekend but they started most of their key players again in midweek in the EFL Cup and lost 4-0 to Manchester United. They will look to bring in Andy Carroll again and play from the wings to swing in crosses for him.
I believe if we cut out their supply from the wings, we will win this game fairly easily. However, we have to be cautious in dead ball situations as West Ham have got height. Mustafi is good in the air and should take over Carroll but our weak point seems to be the right back where Gabriel will most likely face Dimitri Payet. There is need for Theo Walcott to double up on Payet. Alexis Sanchez has been a real live wire for us and he will relish this game because West Ham like to play on the front foot and there will be spaces to exploit.
I think this will be a very feisty and interesting game and there will be goals.
I predict a 2-4 win for Arsenal