First and foremost, it is imperative Arsenal get a victory under their belt. I say this not only because we absolutely cannot drop any more points, but because at present Arsenal is seemingly totally devoid of self-confidence. On paper Arsenal are clearly the favourites, but there is no doubting teams now come to the Emirates thinking they have a decent chance of pinching some points.
Arsene has revealed that several first-team players could be in doubt for a start. Lukas Podolski and Oxlade-Chamberlain have rejoined the squad with the former the more likely to make a return and the latter still likely to be suffering some after effects of illness. Diaby has also been highlighted as being rotated after Wenger conceded that precautions made need to be made for the big Frenchman having been absent for so long. Spaniard Mikel Arteta is out along with Coquelin who picked up a hamstring injury against Chelsea.
The make-up of the starting eleven is obviously tied to the availability of the players mentioned above. Given that either Podolski or Chamberlain are available we are likely to see Cazorla slot back into his preferred attacking midfield role alongside Wilshere and Diaby – or Ramsey if the Frenchman is deemed unfit. It is hard to predict whether Arsene will stick with Giroud up top, but I am inclined to go with the big Frenchman as the spearhead and Walcott on the right flank.
A notable mention must go to opposing midfielder Mohamed Diame who has been heavily linked with Arsenal. The Senegalise midfielder has been tipped as the answer to Arsenal’s problems in defensive midfield and no doubt he will want to impress his prospective employers. Diame is certainly a beast and could cause problems to our midfield. He was exceptional against QPR and Chelsea in recent weeks.
As Walcott said earlier this week, Arsenal must go into the match believing they can come out on top. It is clear confidence is low, but we all know that if Arsenal play to their potential they should dominate West Ham in all facets of the game. Factoring in the quality of the opposition nothing less than a win is the really the only acceptable outcome at such a crucial stage in the season.
on players returning…
We could have Podolski back in the squad because he is back to full training today. And maybe Oxlade-Chamberlain back in the squad because he has been sick. Maybe he will go out today and practise again.
Yes he’s better. He was sick. He was in bed but I think he will be in full training today.
on players dropping out…
Coquelin is out because he has a hamstring problem from the Chelsea game. Everybody else has to be assessed individually but there is no major injury. Arteta is still out.
Diaby is one of the guys I will have to check. You could see he was not completely physically fresh from the start on Sunday and he did dig deep to do what he did. He has played four games on the trot after being out for three months, so I will have to check him.
Sagna Mertesacker Vermaelen (c) Gibbs
- Arsenal have won eight and lost none of the last 10 matches in all competitions against West Ham.
- Arsene Wenger’s men won the reverse fixture in October 3-1 at Upton Park with Olivier Giroud, Santi Cazorla and Theo Walcott on target after Mohamed Diame put the hosts ahead.
- The Hammers attacking record is disastrous as they have failed to score in seven of their last nine Premier League games against the Gunners. But since the team is led by Sam Allardyce their chances of scoring are far better as ‘Big Sam’s’ past teams have only failed to score in one of eight visits against Arsenal, but have never won.
- Interestingly, West Ham were the last visiting team to win a Premier League game at Highbury and the first to win at the Emirates.
- There have been four penalties in the last five Premier League meetings between Arsenal and West Ham.
- Arsenal have scored in the 41st and 77th minutes in each of their last two matches against West Ham.
- Only Liverpool and Man Utd (six each) have won away at Arsenal more often in the Premier League era than West Ham (4).
- Arsenal have lost consecutive games in the Premier League for the first time since last January when they lost all three of their games in the month.
- Theo Walcott has been involved in five of Arsenal’s last six Premier League goals (three goals, two assists) and has scored 11 in his last 15 appearances for Arsenal (in all competitions). He has already scored a career-high 14 goals for the season in all competitions.
Arsenal 2 West Ham 0