West Ham face a trip to the Emirates on Saturday to face Arsenal. The Hammers have been on a terrible run of form for some time now and will be hoping they can catch Arsenal off guard while their mind is on the big task of their away trip to Monaco next week. Arsenal will be riding high off the back of their victory at Old Trafford last Monday. It was the Gunners first victory at the Theatre of Dreams since back in 2006. With that momentum behind them Arsenal will be looking to run through West Ham so they can keep their spot in the top 4 secure and head into their Champions League fixture with as much confidence as possible. West Ham’s record hasn’t been impressive against Arsenal in recent years and their current form isn’t indicative of a team that will be heading into the tie confident of causing an upset. However, they did put up a good performance against Chelsea on their last outing and have claimed some big scalps already this season, albeit when they were impressing much more than they are recently. A London derby can throw the form book out the window at least that is what West Ham will be hoping for come Saturday.
The Gunners will continue to be without Jack Wilshere for the visit of the Hammers. Wilshere was set to be sidelined for ‘a few days’ after having studs removed from a pin in his ankle at the end of last month, but the England midfielder is yet to return to full team training making any involvement at the weekend unlikely. Arsenal could be boosted with a potential return from Mathieu Flamini since he has returned to training following his recent hamstring injury. There is concern over Oxlade-Chamberlain and the extent of his hamstring problem. The Ox could be out till April but Wenger says he cannot yet confirm the severity of the injury until the necessary scans are completed. January singing Gabriel could return next week after progressing well with his injury. Long term absentees Arteta and Debuchy still have a while before they are expected to return to the side.
West Ham will be without Ecuadorian striker Enner Valencia for their trip to the Emirates. The West Ham striker suffered a freak injury on Tuesday night after badly cutting his toe when he dropped a teacup on his foot. Although Big Sam isn’t certain he feels that the Arsenal game may be too soon for him to play after the accident. It is unfortunate news for West Ham as they currently aren’t blessed with striking options since both Andy Carroll and Carlton Cole are also currently out with injuries of their own. Star centre back Winston Reid won’t be able to celebrate his new long term contract with West Ham against Arsenal after the club confirmed the New Zealander will miss the match at the weekend due to the hamstring injury he picked up against Chelsea last time out.
- Last time the two sides met at the Emirates in the Premier League Arsenal ran out 3-1 winners. Olivier Giroud and Matt Jarvis were on the score sheet while former Gunner Lukas Podolski netted twice to secure the 3 points.
- Arsenal have managed 5 wins in their last 6 League games. Meanwhile, the visitors haven’t won a game in the league since a 3-0 at home to Hull City on the 18th of January
- The Hammers are yet to win away from home in 2015. The last away victory big Sam’s team managed in the League was back at the beginning of December 2014
- Arsenal winger Theo Walcott is one of the top goal scorers in the fixture with 5 previous goals against the Hammers
- Last time the two sides met was the last game of 2014 for both sides. Arsenal were 2-1 winners at the Boleyn Ground
Arsenal – Santi Cazorla
Santi Cazorla has been a key man for Arsenal all season. Alexis Sanchez has grabbed a lot of the headlines thanks to his goal scoring contribution and performances since his summer move to London, but Santi Cazrola has been just as important to Arsenals success this season. The diminutive midfielders ability has never been questioned, but in recent seasons he had struggled to capture that starling form that had arsenal fans fall in love with him and opposition supporters watch and take note when he moved from Malaga. This season he has shone. When Ozil was injured for the first half of the season and his form wasn’t impressive Cazorla took the play making load on his shoulders. When last season Ramsey was savior for the club this season it has been Cazorla who has cemented his name as one of the first on the Arsenal team sheet earning the captains armband in Arteta and Mertesackers absences. A lot of the good Arsenal can do comes from the Spaniard. With Ozil back and Cazorla being now asked to contribute from a slightly deeper position his direct effect on goals and assists isn’t as noticeable but a good performance from Cazorla usually leads to good Arsenal performance all round.
West Ham United – James Tomkins
With his partner in central defence out injured there will be a big onus on Tomkins to lead West Hams backline against Arsenal on Saturday. The young centre back has been a m mainstay in the West Ham side in recent years after graduating from their youth ranks. By no means a ball playing or technical centre half Tomkins offers a rugged throwback for a British centre half and one that will need to perform against an Arsenal side whose attack can be relentless at times. Likely to be tasked by challenging Oliver Giroud, Tomkins will need to be ready to keep with the Frenchman whose link up play and movement off the ball is just as important to his game as finding the back of the net is. The likelihood if you go to the Emirates is that you aren’t going to get many chances, so you need to make sure if you do end up taking one or two you have managed to stifle their attack to little or no chances also. With confidence at West Ham undoubtedly quite low, it would be helpful for the supporters and players alike to see a gutsy, determined performance the like of which Tomkins is capable of to give them something to build off of and some pride at the end of the game
To find the last time that West Ham went away to Arsenal and won we have to go back to the 2006/07 Premier League season. That is also the last time that West Ham beat Arsenal period. West Hams form as of late has been unrecognizable compared to their early season performances that saw them riding high in the table in European positions. With no wins in their last 6 it is hard to see the Hammer’s changing their fortunes on an away trip to a ground they have struggled at in recent years. Arsenal meanwhile, are coming off the back of big win in the FA cup quart6er-finals at Old Trafford and on the way into a crunch away leg in Monaco in the Champions League. It is hard to see Arsenal not wanting to be heading into that tough away game with as much momentum as possible. Dropping points on Saturday to West Ham could mean that by the end of next week Arsenal may no longer be in the Champions League and would have loosened their grip on one of the coveted top 4 league positions. Surely Wenger and his men can’t allow that to happen.
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