Arsenal will be looking to continue their charge towards the top four when they welcome West Ham United to the Emirates on Saturday.
Premier League action will resume this weekend with the onset of Gameweek 29 of the 2019-20 season. The Goal Rush segment of the Premier League on Saturday will feature Arsenal, who play hosts to West Ham United at the Emirates, with both sides hoping to stitch a winning run, so as to meet their objectives for the league.
A roller-coaster of a season continues to have huge peaks and troughs for Arsenal. While the north Londoners have not been beaten in the Premier League since the turn of the year, they were booted out of the UEFA Europa League last week. The Gunners, though, returned to winning ways against Portsmouth this week in the FA Cup, which is now the only competition they can win this term.
For West Ham United, on the other hand, 2019-20 has been quite a miserable season. Manuel Pellegrini was shown the exit door towards the fag end of 2019, with David Moyes replacing him in the hopes of turning things around. Thus far under Moyes, though, the Hammers have won just two games, although the most recent victory did come last week, against Southampton.
The reverse fixture, played at the London Stadium back in December last year, ended in a come-from-behind 3-1 win for Arsenal, after Angelo Ogbonna had handed West Ham the lead in the first half. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Mikel Arteta has a fresh injury blow to contend with ahead of the visit of West Ham United. On Saturday, the Arsenal boss will be without as many as five first-team players, with Lucas Torreira the latest player to be sidelined with an injury.
The Uruguayan midfielder sustained an ankle injury just minutes into the FA Cup clash with Portsmouth earlier this week and is likely to have played his last game of the season. Apart from Torreira, Arteta will also be bereft of the services of Cedric Soares (knee), Kieran Tierney (match fitness), Sead Kolasinac (shoulder) and Calum Chambers (knee).
While his options have been depleted in recent weeks, the Arsenal manager still have plenty of resources available to him in order to name a strong lineup against West Ham. Bernd Leno should be restored in goal after being rested in the midweek cup encounter.
Up ahead in defence, Shkodran Mustafi ought to return as David Luiz’s central defensive partner, despite Pablo Mari’s impressive performance on debut. On the right side of the Arsenal defence, Hector Bellerin is expected to come in for Sokratis Papastathopoulos while Bukayo Saka will continue as the left-back in the absence of Tierney and Kolasinac.
Up ahead in midfield, Granit Xhaka and Dani Ceballos are certain starters, meaning Frenchman Matteo Guendouzi drops to the bench. Mesut Ozil will, meanwhile, reprise the no. 10 role, with Joe Willock making way for the veteran playmaker.
Nicolas Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will be the two wide men for Arsenal, with Gabriel Martinelli and Reiss Nelson, who impressed last time out, being backup options. Eddie Nketiah continued his fine run against Portsmouth, but should make way for Alexandre Lacazette, who will lead the line against West Ham.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Leno; Bellerin, Mustafi, Luiz, Saka; Ceballos, Xhaka; Pepe, Ozil, Aubameyang; Lacazette
West Ham United
Unlike his counterpart in the Arsenal dugout, David Moyes does not have any new issue hampering his preparations ahead of the short cross-London trip. On Saturday, the West Ham United manager will be without just four first-team players.
Missing out for West Ham are Ryan Fredericks (shoulder), Tomas Soucek (thigh), Andriy Yarmolenko (thigh) and former Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere (hernia). Meanwhile, Moyes ought to continue with the 4-2-3-1 formation, which has enabled a more fluid brand of football in the last couple of weeks.
Lukasz Fabianski is the obvious pick in goal and the former Arsenal custodian will need to be at his absolute best to thwart the Gunners on Saturday. Jeremy Ngakia has been a revelation ever since Fredericks was ruled out and the impressive youngster should continue on the right side of the West Ham defence.
On the opposite flank, Aaron Cresswell is an automatic pick, while Issa Diop and Angelo Ogbonna will pair up at the heart of the West Ham defence once again. Up ahead in midfield, the absence of Soucek means there is no looking past Mark Noble and Declan Rice in the double pivot.
The duo will primarily be tasked with containing the flow of Arsenal’s passes into West Ham’s defensive third before looking to move the ball forward. Pablo Fornals will be given a free role in midfield and the Spaniard will aim to take up more advanced positions in the final third.
Fornals will be flanked by Michail Antonio and Jarrod Bowen, who has made a definitive impact since joining from Hull City in January. Finally, Sebastien Haller will lead the line for West Ham against Arsenal, meaning Robert Snodgrass misses out again.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Fabianski; Ngakia, Diop, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Noble, Rice; Bowen, Fornals, Antonio; Haller
- Arsenal have won eight of their last nine home Premier League games against West Ham United, losing the other on the opening day of the 2015-16 season. West Ham have, in fact, won just two of their last 23 Premier League games against Arsenal (D4 L17) since a three-game winning run against the Gunners between February 2006 and April 2007.
- Arsenal have won none of their last four home London derbies in the Premier League (D2 L2), losing the last one against Chelsea. They have not lost back-to-back home derbies since February 2006, when their defeats were coincidentally against Chelsea and West Ham.
- Arsenal have scored at least three goals in 12 of their last 16 Premier League games against West Ham, including each of their last three against them at the Emirates.
- Following their 3-1 win against Southampton last time out, West Ham are looking to secure back-to-back Premier League victories for the first time since August. However, the Hammers have lost their last five Premier League away games, last losing more successively between August and December 2006 (8 games).
- West Ham manager David Moyes hasn’t won any of his 15 away Premier League games against Arsenal (D4 L11). No manager in Premier League history has ever managed more away games against an opponent without winning. The others with 15 and no wins are Moyes himself against Chelsea and Liverpool and Harry Redknapp against Manchester United.
Player to Watch
Pepe’s performances this season have closely resembled the general inconsistencies of Arsenal as a unit. The Ivorian has showed flashes of his absolute best at times while making a mockery of the club-record transfer fee that Arsenal shelled out to sign him in the summer.
Of late, though, Pepe has been in fine nick, although part of his game still needs some attention. Pepe now needs to add a clinical touch to his end product, if he is to go on to make a definitive difference in the final third for the Gunners.
With West Ham being quite vulnerable at the back, this is Pepe’s first chance to take the step in the right direction and become more than just a winger who leaves opposition defenders on their backsides. At the same time, such a progress would have taken some of the burden off captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s shoulders.
Arsenal 2-0 West Ham United
A game between teams in the opposite halves of the table. While Arsenal are hoping to continue making giant strides towards a place in the top four, West Ham United are desperate to get away from the clutches of the relegation zone. The visitors will further be buoyed after their fine 3-1 win over Southampton last weekend.
However, Arsenal have been in good touch in the Premier League of late, winning each of their last two games. While a motivated West Ham side should make things difficult for Arsenal, the solidity provided by a resurgent Shkodran Mustafi ought to keep them at bay.
On the opposite end, Nicolas Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang should run riot. All things considered, it looks like Arsenal could be fairly comfortable in the end, which is why The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-0 win for Mikel Arteta & co.