Arsenal are set for a crunch clash against West Ham at the Emirates with both teams looking for their first points of the season.
Arsenal are ready to play hosts to London rivals West Ham United at the Emirates, with both the teams looking for their first points and preferably, would want them through a win. A loss for either side will be catastrophic, having lost the opening two games of the season already.
But the big news would be the return of Jack Wilshere and Lucas Perez to the Emirates after only joining the Hammers a month ago. Wilshere and Perez were shown the door at Arsenal, and both players will be looking to prove a point to the Gunners’ hierarchy.
But Unai Emery and Manuel Pellegrini will be more focused on team efforts than worrying about individuals, mainly the Chilean, who could come under early pressure after spending rather lavishly in the summer transfer window.
Unai Emery who took a lot of positives from the last game, despite his team’s defeat to Chelsea, will now be hoping his side comes out of early adjustment problems and find their breakthrough against West Ham.
Team News & Tactics
Unai Emery has had a strange start to his Arsenal tenure concerning his team selection. The biggest surprise from the two games was the decision to start 19-year-old Matteo Guendouzi, but the young Frenchman has starred in both games so far, especially against Chelsea. That effectively looks like Guendoizi will retain his place in central midfield.
The other big surprise was benching Aaron Ramsey and starting the rather dreadful Granit Xhaka in his place. However, with two bad performances already from the Swiss International, Emery might restore Ramsey to his favoured central midfield position. Alternatively, Emery could also give Lucas Torreira his first Arsenal start as a defensive midfielder.
Unai Emery also confirmed his intention to stick to a lone striker up front, meaning fans will have to wait to see the Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette pairing from the start. However, the question of which of those forwards starts against West Ham remains, although Emery is expected to stick with Aubameyang.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan, after his display against Chelsea, looks set to keep his place. But, it would be interesting to see if Mesut Ozil does too, after poor displays in the last two games. Alex Iwobi is also an option to start as Arsenal’s left-sided attacker, after impressing with a goal and an assist against Chelsea the previous time out.
And finally, Petr Cech will likely continue in goal, with Emery preferring a standard, four-person defence to counter the threat of West Ham’s attackers.
Probable starting-XI (4-2-3-1) – Cech; Bellerin, Sokratis, Mustafi, Monreal; Guendouzi, Ramsey; Mkhitaryan, Ozil, Iwobi; Aubameyang
West Ham United
Manuel Pellegrini will make late calls regarding team selection, after his last two games turned into defeats. One change that is certain to happen is a replacement for captain Mark Noble in the side. The veteran did not train this week due to a back injury but is expected to be back soon.
Then there are long-term absentees in Andy Carroll, Manuel Lanzini and defender Winston Reid. And regarding changes, Pellegrini could field club record signing, Filipe Anderson in a No.10 role while giving his left-sided attacking role to another recruit in Andriy Yarmolenko.
Former Arsenal midfielder, Jack Wilshere is expected to start in central midfield, and Marko Arnautovic is expected to lead the line for West Ham as their lone striker. Another one of Arsenal’s former player Lucas Perez will have to be content with a bench role, although goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, also a former Gunner, will start against the North Londoners.
Probable Starting-XI (4-2-3-1) – Fabianski; Zabaleta, Balbuena, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Obiang, Wilshere; Snodgrass, Anderson, Yarmolenko; Arnautovic
- Arsenal have lost just once in the last 22-games against West Ham in all competitions, at the opening game of the 2015/16 season.
- West Ham are only behind Liverpool and Manchester United in winning away games at Arsenal, with five wins.
- Arsenal were only second to Manchester City last season in terms of overall home points with the Gunners finishing with 47 (tied with Man Utd) to City’s 50.
- A defeat would mean it would be the first time Arsenal have lost their first three games of the season since 1954-55.
- Unai Emery has faced Manuel Pellegrini 10-times before, with the Spaniard winning thrice to the Chilean’s four wins.
1. Arsenal Clean Sheet – NO @ 1.53
2. Over 2.5 Match Cards @ 1.57
3. Over 10.5 Corners @ 1.90
1. West Ham to win Either Half @ 3.50
2. Shkodran Mustafi to be booked @ 3.50
Player to Watch
It already feels a long time since Wilshere played for Arsenal, with the first of the last two seasons spent on loan at Bournemouth and previous season, despite playing quite many games, there was intense speculation regarding his future. Now at West Ham, Arsenal’s prodigal son returns to his old hunting grounds, mainly to prove a point.
It would be interesting to see the fire in a player, who despite wanting to stay at Arsenal, was seemingly pushed out and this is going to be a chance for him to prove his former employers wrong on many levels. He would certainly want to prove a point with a win, but more interestingly we’d like to watch the midfield battle between him and new Arsenal boy, Guendouzi if he starts.
Arsenal 2-0 West Ham United
This is primed as the game Arsenal need to kick-start their campaign, and a win is the result needed. Hence, Arsenal, already under pressure after two defeats will pull together to take their first points of the season. West Ham have the attackers to trouble any side, but are yet to start firing on all cylinders, and Arsenal are not the ideal opponents they would want at this stage.
Arsenal’s defence, on the other hand, would be hoping to be less leaky and most importantly execute Emery’s tactics to precision. Then there is Aubameyang who also would be fired up to open his season account after missing two glorious chances against Chelsea last weekend. In the end, expect Arsenal to triumph over their London rivals.