It’s April, which marks the beginning of proper business end of the season, when the title is decided at the very top and relegation will seal the fate of three sides at the bottom.
For Arsenal, it’s that time of the year when they go on a run of winning games to steadily consolidate their place in the top four and find themselves in the hat when the Champions League draw is made in the following campaign.
But this time, the scenario has got a lot worse for Arsenal and Arsene Wenger and the likelihood of the Gunners achieving what they consistently did in the last few years seems to be an all-time low. But it’s a London derby and anything can happen in these games and three points are a must, given they are playing at home, if they were to be in with a chance to chip away at the ever-growing gap between themselves and fourth placed Manchester City.
West Ham United are in a spot of no bother at the moment. With 33 points on board and a realisation that two wins out of their next eight league games should virtually guarantee safety, the Hammers look to be lacking motivation and fight as a result of which, have dropped a few levels – that they were able to hit in the first few games post the sale of Dimitri Payet, when they had a purpose or a point to prove.
Slaven Bilic, despite the vote of confidence from the board, looks to be struggling to crack the giant problem that is the Olympic Stadium and will need to stop the rot – in the form of a four game losing streak – they are in at the moment in order to avoid getting dragged into a potential tussle for survival in the final few fixtures.
Arsenal will miss defender Koscielny in midweek after the Frenchman was substituted at half-time during the weekend. Midfielders Oxlade Chamberlain and Aaron Ramsey are doubtful feature as the visit of West Ham may have come too soon for the pair to be fully fit for selection.
West Ham suffer from key injuries to forward Antonio and centre-backs Winston Reid and Angelo Ogbonna. It remains to be seen whether full back Aaron Cresswell has recovered from his injury in time to face Arsenal.
- Arsenal have lost just one of their last 17 Premier League games against West Ham (W13 D3), though it did come in this exact fixture last season.
- Slaven Bilic could become just the third manager to win his first two Premier League visits to face Arsenal after Ron Atkinson and Guus Hiddink.
- West Ham have won five Premier League away games against Arsenal – they’ve only won more on the road in the competition against Fulham (6).
- Arsenal have won just one of their last eight Premier League matches played in midweek (Tues-Thurs); drawing four and losing three.
Theo Walcott (Arsenal) v Andy Carroll (West Ham United)
The two most likely to score for either side on Wednesday are unsurprisingly my ‘players to watch’ for Arsenal and West Ham United.
Theo Walcott has had a productive season on a personal level which has been overshadowed by the collective failure of Arsene Wenger’s side to produce the results they ought to be doing in domestic and European competitions.
Having scored in the weekend against Manchester City, the 28-year old has the experience and expertise to pop up with a vital goal or two in midweek which will be vital for them to spark a resurgence they must, to make it to the top four come May.
Much like Walcott, Andy Carroll found the net in midweek and despite the fact that his goal ultimately was worth nothing in the grand scheme, it is a sign that the England International can be decisive in front of goal, if he’s given the service he deserves. Moreover, the towering centre forward/target man is exactly the type of player that can strike fear in Arsenal’s defensive unit who almost always seem to crumble at the sight of Carroll.
He has scored five Premier League goals against Arsenal – against no side has he scored more in the competition (also 5 vs Swansea and Man City) and he has all the tools to shape the outcome on Wednesday in West Ham’s favour if he continued to do what he seems to love doing.
When two out of form sides meet each other desperate to arrest the slide – there has to be bad defending and a copious amount of goals. This should be no different.
Arsenal 3-2 West Ham United