Fifth place Arsenal welcome 11th place West Ham United to the Emirates on Tuesday evening for what could be Arsenal’s biggest game of the season.
Their hopes of another top 4 finish this season have been seriously dented following a run of only 1 win in their last 5 games.
They have seen Everton overtake them and currently sit 2 points behind the men from Goodison Park.
Sam Allardyce’s West Ham team go to the Emirates knowing that they are guaranteed another season in the Barclays Premier League. Since the turn of the year they have picked up plenty of important victories and now they are just playing for the extra prize money on offer for a higher finish.
They are currently 6 points behind 10th place Stoke City with a game in hand. West Ham have managed to pick up 2 wins in their last 5 games, with 3 defeats also.
Their last away game at Sunderland resulted in a 2-1 victory for The Hammers.
Arsenal have won 50 out of the 118 meetings between the two sides
The Gunners are yet to lose a game in which they have taken the lead this season, winning seven and drawing two.
Sam Allardyce’s side have kept just six clean sheets in the Premier League, their last coming six games ago against West Brom.
The Hammers have picked up just eight points on the road out of a possible 30 and have a division-low of five goals away from home from 10 games.
One table that Arsenal are always near the top of is the injury table. They currently have 9 men unavailable for this match. Abou Diaby, Theo Walcott, Ryo Myiachi and Nacho Monreal are the long term injured. Mesut Ozil, Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky, Serge Gnabry and Laurent Koscielny should all be back within the next week or so. French midfielder Mathieu Flamini misses out due to suspension.
West Ham United have a relatively clean bill of health. Only James Collins and Marco Borriello are definitely missing for the Hammers. George McCartney and Joey O’Brien could both be back in time for this fixture.
How Arsene Wenger and his Arsenal team have missed Aaron Ramsey. The Welshman was having an incredible season prior to picking up the thigh injury in the reverse fixture on Boxing Day.
He was at the heart of everything good Arsenal did. 9 league goals from central midfield is impressive enough but when you also take into account the 27 chances created and the 6 assists he notched up, all from open play. You will see what an impact he was having before injury struck.
Injury has also robbed West Ham United of record signing Andy Carroll for most of this season. However, since returning from injury, Carroll has been very impressive. He is playing for a place in Roy Hodgson’s World Cup squad and with 2 goals and 4 assists coming in his 7 league starts to date, he has certainly given Hodgson some food for thought.
Arsenal should be buoyed following their victory over Wigan in the FA Cup Semi Final on Saturday evening and they know that they must win this game to have any chance of finishing in the top 4 this season.
West Ham have nothing really to play for and that can go either way. They can either turn up and play with freedom and no fear or they could well be over run by a hungry and somewhat desperate Arsenal side.
I think the home side should just have enough to see them over the line in this one, however, I would expect Andy Carroll to cause plenty of problems and get himself on the score sheet.
I predict a 3-1 victory to the Gunners.