Arsenal v West Ham
Barclays Premier League
Kick off: March 14th, 2015 1500 GMT
Arsenal have consistently had West Ham United’s number over the years, we have beaten them in all five clashes since their return to the Premiership despite the fact they scored first on four occasions. Overall, The Hammers have had a good season so far but they’ll probably end stuck in the middle and swing between the top and bottom half of the table in the forthcoming weeks.
They’ve had a string of poor results in the last two months – they haven’t beaten anyone since 18th January (Hull, 3:0). However, sometimes stats can fool you – they’ve had a string of difficult matches that included Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United, Spuds and Southampton. And, they lost just two of those (Liverpool, Chelsea) and managed to stay undefeated against Spuds and Southampton away (at the venues where we were beaten).
Their poor results are heavily related to an injury-crisis as well with key players from defence and attack being unavailable.
Carl Jenkinson has been great for West Ham this term but fortunately he is our player so he can’t play against us. Winston Reid is injured and so is James Tomkins. That’s why Big Fat Sam might be forced to pull Cheick Kouyate from the midfield into defence. In attack, Andy “thirty-bloody-five-million-pound” Carroll has been on the sidelines for a while as well as Carlton Cole while Enner Valencia has been a major doubt after suffering a bizarre cut.
Still, they can make life miserable for us. They haven’t had a match since 4th March while we played an exhausting game against Manchester United on Monday night.
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Now, add the fact yet we play AS Monaco on Tuesday night and you’ll realize why this fixture needs to be complacency-free.
Our team will probably go through some rotation and we won’t be fielding the same eleven that started against United especially with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain ruled out due to a hamstring injury.
David Ospina is likely to return between the sticks. Wojciech Szczesny didn’t have a poor game against United but – aside from a very important save of Di Maria’s shot – he didn’t really excel.
Hector Bellerin’s pace will be a massive asset down the right flank with a possible partnership with Theo Walcott.
Kieran Gibbs might get the nod on the left so that Nacho Monreal starts against Monaco. Gibbs should exploit the absence of Jenkinson and provide extra-width with his forward runs.
Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny are going to play in the middle of the defence. There is a slight chance that Calum Chambers would replace either of them however.
Francis Coquelin will have another battling performance in the middle in order to deny the influence of Alex Song like in the reverse tie.
Santi Cazorla will pull all the strings from the middle. He has been very inspirational against The Hammers in the previous fixtures and this shouldn’t be an exception.
Tomas Rosicky might get the nod so that Mesut Özil gets some rest before Monaco. The Czech maestro has scored two league goals this season, both of them at the Emirates and this could be a game for him to show his unique class again.
Theo Walcott’s situation might be less serious than the media reports and I have a feeling he might get the nod against The Hammers.
Danny Welbeck was a hero in our victory at Old Trafford and now might get another chance to shine as our central forward. He scored in the reverse fixture.
Given that Özil and Giroud might start on the bench, I don’t believe Wenger will take a risk to start Alexis Sánchez on the bench too. So, I expect the Chilean on the left wing to exploit Jenkinson’s absence.
There are some warnings ahead of this tough tie but with a professional approach we should manage our fifth league victory in a row. This game is also an end of The London Tour – it’s going to be our seventh consecutive league game in London before we make the trip to Newcastle next week. We have won five out of six so far, now we can make it six out of seven.
I’d go with a 2:0 victory with goals from Alexis and Rosicky.
Head to Head
Premier League (EPL) 28 Dec 2014 West Ham United 1 – Arsenal FC 2
Premier League (EPL) 15 Apr 2014 Arsenal FC 3 – West Ham United 1
Premier League (EPL) 26 Dec 2013 West Ham United 1 – Arsenal FC 3
Premier League (EPL) 23 Jan 2013 Arsenal FC 5 – West Ham United 1
Premier League (EPL) 6 Oct 2012 West Ham United 1 – Arsenal FC 3
Bellerin Mertesacker (c) Koscielny Gibbs
Arsenal 2 v 0 West Ham