West Ham United
9th August 2015; 1330 BST
Arsenal FC manager Arsene Wenger would be hoping for a winning start to his 20th season in-charge of the Gunners against West Ham United at the Emirates. Arsenal FC have had a near perfect pre-season, winning all four of their games in addition to the Community Shield. Arsene Wenger brought an end to the Jose Mourinho jinx, as an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain winner helped the Frenchman to his first win in 14 games against his nemesis.
West Ham on the other hand, have had a reasonably average pre-season which was congested due to the Europa League qualifiers. The Hammers have participated in 12 games in the pre-season – winning five, drawing three and losing the rest, including the crucial Europa League qualifier against Astra Giurgiu. West Ham failed to qualify for the Europa League courtesy of their 2-1 (4-3 aggregate) loss to Romanian side, Astra Giurgiu against whom new manager Slaven Bilic fielded a relatively young and inexperienced side, in light of the weekend derby against Arsenal FC.
Arsenal FC were at their breathtaking best against Olympique Lyon, playing them out of the park with their slick passing and sharp movement. The Gunners’ completed a unique pre-season treble as they won the Barclays Asia trophy in Singapore, followed it with the Emirates Cup at home and capped it off with the Community Shield at Wembley. The Gunners were seen adopting a more cautious approach against big-teams, a change in style evident in their play since the turn of the year, which helped them to victories over Wolfsburg and Chelsea FC.
Team News and Tactics
Last season’s Player of the Year, Alexis Sanchez is set to miss out on a starting berth against West Ham with Arsene Wenger confirming that the Chilean will not be risked. The star forward returned to training only earlier this week after an extended holiday, sanctioned due to his participation in the Copa America winning campaign with Chile. The Gunners are without the services of Jack Wilshere, who is sidelined for several weeks after sustaining a hairline fracture on his left fibula following a challenge in training. Danny Welbeck and Tomas Rosicky are also unavailable due to knee injuries.
The North London club are expected to line-up in Wenger’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation, with Coquelin and Santi Cazorla occupying the double pivot. New Chelsea FC signing, Petr Cech is expected to start in goal after impressing in his competitive debut against his former club.
There are some doubts about who would lead the line for the Gunners with Theo Walcott starting as the lone striker in their last two competitive outings ahead of traditional striker Olivier Giroud. Mesut Ozil is expected to start in the number 10 role behind the striker. Youngster Hector Bellerin, who had a breakthrough last season is expected to usurp Mathieu Debuchy to the starting spot at right-back and Monreal is expected to start ahead of Gibbs at left-back.
The Gunners had a terrible start to the campaign last season, which saw them lingering in mid-table by November and effectively ended their title challenge even before it began. Touted as one of the contenders for the title this season, Arsenal FC would be hoping for a strong start this term.
Possible lineup (4-2-3-1): Cech (GK); Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin, Cazorla, Ramsey, Ozil, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Walcott
West Ham United
Enner Valencia is still recuperating from the ankle and knee injuries sustained during the Europa League clash against Astra Giurgiu and will not be available. While Andy Carroll, who is nursing a knee injury is still working on the long road to recovery and is presently training with the Under-21s. Carl Jenkinson, the Arsenal FC defender, on loan at West Ham is ineligible to play against his parent club.
Slaven Bilic is expected to stick to his 4-3-1-2 formation which has been used by the Hammers in the pre-season with Dimitri Payet set to be entrusted with the No. 10 role. The French forward is expected to make his Premier League debut along with Angelo Ogbonna, who arrived from Juventus earlier in the summer. Former Arsenal FC target, Winston Reid is expected to partner Ogbonna in the center of defence. Diafra Sakho and Mauro Zarate are expected to lead the line for the hammers, while trusted custodian Adrian will retain his position between the sticks.
Possible line up (4-3-1-2): Adrian (GK); O’Brien, Reid, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Kouyate, Noble, Oxford, Payet; Zarate, Sakho
Player to watch out for:
Mesut Ozil (Arsenal FC)
The Arsenal FC record signing participated in his first pre-season with the club, following his A?42.5 million move from Real Madrid two years ago. The German has not yet reached the heights we all know he is capable of, but, in the second part of last season there were glimpses of him returning to his best. The attacking midfielder is known for his intelligent passing and eye to pick out run’s from forwards, and with Theo Walcott in the lineup, he will get the willing runner to latch on to his magical through-balls. The German has been criticized for looking to pass the ball to teammates despite of being in excellent scoring positions and Arsene Wenger is expecting that Ozil starts shooting more often and has set him a target of 10 goals this season.
- Arsene Wenger is set to preside over his 20th season in-charge of Arsenal FC.
- Arsenal FC are unbeaten in their last 14 encounters with West Ham (W12, D2) and have won the last nine.
- Arsenal FC have won only one of their last five opening day fixtures (D3, L1).
- The Gunners have lost only once in their last 14 opening day fixtures (W9, D3).
- The Hammers have opened the scoring in four of the last six meetings with the Gunners and went on to lose all four of them.
- Kevin Nolan is on 399 Premier League appearances and has scored 99 goals for West Ham.
Arsenal FC 3 – 1 West Ham
Considering their billing as one of the contenders for the Premier League, Arsenal FC must look to play West Ham out of the park, however, the Hammers are no pushovers and are capable of holding their own. The Gunners go into the contest in red-hot form and barring an exceptional display from their cross-town opponents, should easily march to victory.