West Ham vs Arsenal
Barclays Premier League
Kick off: December 26, 2013 3:00 PM GMT
Despite the recent clash against Chelsea ending in a stalemate, Arsenal still find themselves at the top of the table, equal on points with Suarez FC. Disappointingly the Gunners have only picked up two points from a possible nine from the last three Premier League matches meaning the short-lived five point buffer has all but vanished. In saying this however, with Liverpool travelling to the Etihad stadium, there is good chance that Arsenal can regain top spot outright with a win over the lowly Hammers.
The upcoming clash against West Ham does provide a good opportunity for the Gunners to finally taste a victory after a somewhat barren run. The Gunners haven’t pulled off a win since the beginning of December against Hull and it is about time we start building some momentum again. We weren’t on top at Christmas, but we can still make up for it by getting top spot for the New Year.
While Wenger knows the importance of winning the match, West Ham’s form suggests that there will be some rotation to compensate for the busy festive period. The two players that stand-out as the likely contenders in my eyes are Mesut Ozil and Mikel Arteta, who are likely to be replaced by Santi Cazorla and Mathieu Flamini. To be fair, not much of a drop in quality, although Cazorla’s form of late has been questionable.
The clash against lesser opposition also allows Giroud an opportunity to get some confidence back. The Frenchman was in good form in the earlier on in the season, but as of late has looked below par, particularly after missing some great opportunities against Chelsea. With the January window looming, Wenger may be forced into signing a quality striker if Giroud cannot rediscover some form.
Looking at West Ham, it is pretty clear why Arsenal are clear favourites going into this tie. The Hammers have only managed three wins this season and are barely hovering above the relegation zone. In addition to this, they have a number of key injuries to their squad. They go into this tie without Andy Carroll, Stuart Downing, Winston Reid and Ricardo Vaz Te which essentially weakens every area of the pitch in their starting eleven.
Personally speaking, the Gunners have no excuses if they get anything other than a win. Yes, the Hammers pulled a couple of upsets against our arch rivals Tottenham, but factoring in their form and injury problems it is hard to see how the Hammers will come away with anything from this match, even though they are on their home ground. It is important we string some wins together and boost morale! COYG!
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Arsenal: Koscielny (knee), Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee), Sanogo (back), Diaby (knee)
West Ham: Carroll (foot), Downing (Achilles), Reid (ankle), Vaz Te (shoulder), Petric (calf)
|ARSENAL – DLLDW||WEST HAM – LWDLL|
|Arsenal 0 – Chelsea 0||EPL||Man Utd. 3 – West Ham 1||EPL|
|Manchester City 6 – Arsenal 3||EPL||Tottenham 1 – West Ham 2||CCUP|
|SSC Napoli 2 – Arsenal 0||UCL||West Ham 0 – Sunderland 0||EPL|
|Arsenal 1 – Everton 1||EPL||Liverpool 4 – West Ham 1||EPL|
|Arsenal 2 – Hull 0||EPL||Crystal Palace 1 – West Ham 0||EPL|
Sagna Mertesacker Vermaelen (c) Gibbs
West Ham 0 Arsenal 2