Arsenal make a short trip to the London Stadium to face 10th placed West Ham United as the Gunners look to close the gap on fourth-placed Chelsea.
Arsenal bounced back after a difficult December to begin 2019 on a high note, beating Fulham 4-1 at the Emirates. With three points separating the North Londoners from Chelsea, a win against West Ham will temporarily move them level on points with the Blues, who host Newcastle later on Saturday. Unai Emery will be confident ahead of this clash after Arsenal’s response to their 5-1 drubbing at Anfield by Liverpool.
Emery will also have a firm eye placed on the next clash when Arsenal host Chelsea in an all-important clash that could be determined in the top-four race. However, the Spaniard knows well the importance of three points against West Ham away from home, which could set up the Chelsea clash nicely.
Arsenal’s opponents on the weekend, West Ham, have had an inconsistent season so far. However, coming out of their early season struggles, the Hammers are decently placed in a 10th spot on the table and certainly in a position to push for a European place. However, after going on a four-match winning streak, the Hammers have only managed one in their last four, casting doubts over their ambitions.
The much bigger issue for West Ham lies outside the field with striker Marko Arnautovic stating his desire to leave the side during the January window. News of this sort could be destabilising for the entire team, let alone the fans, however, Manuel Pellegrini will be hoping his side show the desire and hunger to beat Arsenal when they host them.
Team News & Tactics
Fans will have an eye on Marko Arnautovic’s situation after the Austrian was hauled off after just 20 minutes during West Ham’s FA Cup clash against Birmingham. However, it is understood that Pellegrini did so as a precautionary measure for his ongoing back problem. Expect the Austrian to lead the side from the front against Arsenal; however, a late fitness test could tell the complete story.
Former Arsenal midfielder Samir Nasri, who signed a six-month deal with West Ham at the beginning of the month following the conclusion of his doping ban could be in line to face his old side. On the other hand, Javier Hernandez could be a doubt despite recovering from his back injury, although Pellegrini does have the option of Andy Carroll who came off the bench during the FA Cup clash.
Pellegrini, however, has a long list of players out injured and unavailable for the Arsenal clash. Those absentees include the likes of former Arsenal star Jack Wilshere, Manuel Lanzini, Andriy Yarmolenko, Carlos Sanchez, Fabian Balbuena, Winston Reid, and Ryan Fredricks.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2) – Fabianski; Zabaleta, Diop, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Snodgrass, Noble, Rice, Anderson; Carroll, Arnautovic
The Gunners have endured a painful period with defensive injuries in the last month, although there could be a much-needed relief on that front. Five defensive players as well as Mesut Ozil all returned to full training this week, and some of them could be in line for a start. The returning stars include Hector Bellerin, Nacho Monreal, Dinos Mavropanos, Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi.
Focusing on Ozil, the German has faced a difficult time in the last month after niggling injuries, and a loss of form has seen him in and out of the team. However, Emery could let Ozil have a run against West Ham with the hope the playmaker gets back to his best form. One thing for sure are the many changes Emery will make to the side that beat Blackpool in the FA Cup.
Emery could also look to rest some overworked players and give a chance to others who desperately need match time to regain fitness, including the likes of Bellerin and Mustafi. Sokratis, on the other hand, could be rested or on the bench, although the likes of Lucas Torreira, Granit Xhaka, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are all set to return to the starting lineup after being rested.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1) – Leno; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Mustafi, Kolasinac; Torreira, Xhaka; Iwobi, Ozil, Aubameyang; Lacazette
- West Ham United have won one of their last 21 Premier League matches against Arsenal which came away from home.
- West Ham have lost more Premier League games against Arsenal (29) than they have against any other side
- 15 of the last 17 goals scored in Premier League matches between West Ham and Arsenal have been scored in the second half
- West Ham have conceded at least once in their previous eight home Premier League games
- Arsenal haven’t failed to score in a Premier League game since the opening game of the season against Man City (0-2)
1. Both Teams to Score – YES @ 1.50
2. Full Time Result – West Ham or Draw @ 1.80
1. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Over 0.5 Assists @ 5.00
Player to Watch
There is a feeling among the fans that time is running out for Mesut Ozil at Arsenal and no matter how much everyone respects and admires the former Germany International he has been below par this season. Occasionally he has come up with his brilliant plays, although for large periods this season he has remained inconsistent. Ozil needs to step and now.
For now, Ozil needs to make the most of his appearances and starting with West Ham he needs to show Emery what his capabilities are and how much he means to the team. His presence is necessary for Arsenal especially when the side are well placed to challenge for a top four position.
West Ham 1-2 Arsenal
Arsenal might be in a mixed bag form right now, but they very well know how to exploit the problems in a side like West Ham. The Gunners have the required firepower to crush the Hammers’ defence and expect goals to be scored from Arsenal in this clash. West Ham, on the other hand, have major injury problems and coupled with their troubles with Marko Arnautovic they could be in trouble.
Arsenal, on the other hand, will be looking for a confidence-boosting win against Hammers to set themselves up for the big clash against Chelsea. Emery will want three points, and he knows anything less could be trouble for his side in their quest for the top four of the Premier League.