Arsenal welcome West Ham United to the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, with both teams desperate to get their first Premier League win of the season in the books. The hosts have had a difficult start under Unai Emery as they have had to face both Manchester City and Chelsea. Although there were positive signs, the Gunners don’t have a single point to their name. It has been a similar story for the visitors, who are another team in a period of transition under Manuel Pellegrini. Given the lack of confidence within both teams, this weekend should be an interesting contest.
There has already been some unrest on social media, but Arsenal supporters need to be patient after the departure of Arsene Wenger. Although the team had been in decline under the Frenchman, it remains a huge culture shift at the club and the new manager needs time to implement his ideas. Emery is a proven winner with both Sevilla and PSG. There are doubts regarding his ability to win the biggest prizes in Europe, but he should have the capabilities of moving the Gunners forward again. That said, he needs a positive result this weekend to prevent the pressure building at this early stage.
During the summer, a lot was written about West Ham’s recruitment. They certainly caught the eye with ambitious signings such as Felipe Anderson and Jack Wilshere among others. However, those tipping the club for a top-six push already look overly ambitious. Their performance against Liverpool was disappointing, but it could be excused due to the quality of the opposition. Last weekend, the home defeat to Bournemouth was extremely difficult to accept and it was a reminder that there is plenty of work for Pellegrini to do on the training ground. They should have the talent levels to fare a lot better under the Chilean, but it won’t be a quick fix.
- Henrikh Mkhitaryan has been involved in eight goals in his 13 Premier League matches for Arsenal. This is one more than his last 25 matches for Manchester United. He appears to be slowly finding his best form at the Emirates Stadium.
- Marko Arnautovic is becoming a talismanic figure for West Ham. He has been involved in eight of their last 12 Premier League goals.
The Gabon international has been tipped for a big season for Arsenal, but he has yet to get off the mark in the Premier League. The start to the season has been difficult for the Gunners and the coming weeks will provide an excellent opportunity for the striker to find his form. In the two matches so far, his movement has caused problems, but his finishing has been poor. He looks to be lacking confidence in the final third. Emery and the supporters will be hoping that it returns against West Ham. There won’t be a better fixture for the former Borussia Dortmund player to find the back of the net, as West Ham are poor defensively and struggle against dynamic players. That was evident against Liverpool during the opening weekend. Last season, he scored ten goals with one coming every 105.8 minutes in the Premier League. His team-mates will be hoping for a similar strike-rate over the 2018/19 season.
The signing of Felipe Anderson from Lazio was one of the headline transfers of the summer transfer window. It was a record signing for West Ham and the Brazilian will be expected to contribute regularly in the final third. He has started both matches to date, but he hasn’t stood out in the Hammers’ line-up. It can take foreign players time to adapt to the Premier League and he should be afforded that. This weekend provides a stage for the record signing as he will be coming up against one of the top-six teams away from home. Arsenal have had defensive problems during the first two weeks, conceding five times and the visitors should take encouragement from that. In Anderson, they have an attacker that can run with the ball and commit the opposition defenders. He will be a very useful weapon against a Gunners’ team lacking in confidence.
Sead Kolasinac won’t be available until October at the earliest. Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Laurent Koscielny both remain on the sidelines. Lucas Torreira could be in line for his first Premier League start in place of Granit Xhaka. Meanwhile, Alexandre Lacazette is another player pushing for a starting berth.
Mark Noble is a doubt as he suffers from a knock. Manuel Lanzini, Winston Reid and Andy Carroll remain long-term injury concerns. Jack Wilshere is expected to start against his former club.
This could be a nervy contest, with both teams desperate to pick up their first win of the season. The home advantage should be enough to give Arsenal the victory, but it could very easily go the other way if West Ham perform to their potential. It should be a good watch for the neutrals as neither side are good defensively and there will be a lot of attacking talent in both teams.
Arsenal 3-1 West Ham