On April ninth, West Ham will host London rivals Arsenal in a game that could have huge significance in West Ham’s top four race. The Hammers are three points off fourth place with seven games to go. A win at home to Arsenal could prove to be a massive three points in their quest to bring Champions League football to the Olympic Stadium.
Arsenal on the other hand will be looking to keep their faint title hopes alive with a win over the Hammers. It’s widely thought that the Gunners need to win all of their remaining games to win the title. This is one of their two games remaining, along with a game away to Manchester City, that they won’t go into as overwhelming favourites. Three points here could give them legitimate hope to be title contenders.
Slaven Billic will have most of his squad to pick from against Arsenal. The only two players out with injury are Sam Byram and James Collins. Despite getting sent off at the weekend Cheikhou Kouyate will be available after the FA rescinded his red card during the week.
Arsenal still have a few players out, but they’re healthier than they have been in months. Both Santi Cazorla and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are still out with long term injuries. Tomas Rosicky and Jack Wilshere are back fit, but aren’t ready for the first team. They’ll both be playing for the under 21 side on Friday. Both Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini are back fit and could be selected.
- The last meeting between the two sides ended in a 2-0 win to West Ham on the opening day of the season.
- Prior to that, Arsenal had won their last nine matches against West Ham and hadn’t lost any of their last 14 meetings.
- West Ham have only lost two matches at home this season.
- The Gunners have the third best away record in the league with 28 points from 16 away matches.
- West Ham have conceded more goals than any other team in the top seven.
West Ham United: Dimitri Payet
West Ham have a good team, but their crowning jewel is Dimitri Payet. The French international has been one of the best players in the Premier League this season. He’s scored nine goals and has eight assists, despite missing seven games this season. He has the second most chances created per 90 minutes in the league this season. In the two teams’ first meeting, Payet made his impression on the league, impressing in his team’s 2-0 victory. He assisted the team’s first goal with a free kick to Kouyate. His quality from open play and set pieces could make all the difference.
Arsenal: Mesut Ozil
For as good as Dimitri Payet has been, Ozil has been even better. He is the one player in the league with more chances created per 90 minutes. He also leads the league in assists with a whopping 18, seven more than anyone else. The German has been one of the best players in the league. Without his contributions, Arsenal would have been out of the title race a long time ago, and possibly even be behind West Ham.
West Ham have been very tough to beat at home this season, but they haven’t done the double over Arsenal since the 2006/2007 season. It’s tough to see West Ham doing the double over their London rivals, but they probably won’t lose either.
Prediction: 1-1 Draw