There will be a London derby in the week, which will have huge ramifications for the top four race. West Ham United make the short trip to face Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. The visitors are currently in the Champions League places, but they are only two points above their Wednesday night opponents. This will be a huge test for Mikel Arteta and it is a match that he needs a win to convince some of his doubters. For West Ham, they seem to do better in matches against the traditional top six and they will believe they can beat the Gunners.
Arsenal have emerged as contenders for the fourth Champions League spot, despite some questionable results. There is still inconsistency in their performances, but they are showing an ability to win matches. Arteta’s issue has been losing too many matches. They have lost six matches and they will be trying to turn a few of those into draws/wins. Given this is a home match against a rival, they need to be looking for three points. If they manage to beat West Ham, it will send a major statement of intent to the rest of the contenders.
It is tough to sustain a challenge in the top six of the league. West Ham have managed to do that under David Moyes. They came close to finishing the top four last season. They occupy one of the positions heading into the new year and there will be growing confidence that they belong in these positions. In recent weeks, they have beaten Chelsea and Liverpool. If they perform to the same level on Wednesday, they will believe that they can beat Arsenal.
From those in the top ten, only Tottenham (21) and Wolves (12) have scored fewer than the 21 goals Arsenal have scored this season.
West Ham have only won one of their last five Premier League matches, showing their recent struggles.
It has been a good few weeks for Martin Odegaard, as he has scored in his last three Premier League appearances. It has been a slow start to the season for the Norwegian, but he is now emerging as an important player for Mikel Arteta. The absence of Emile Smith Rowe has given him a more prominent role in the attack, but the pair can co-exist, as they have already shown this campaign. Odegaard now has four goals to his name in the Premier League. It is somewhat surprising that he has yet to register an assist, as he is known for his creativity and progressive passing. He is averaging 4.2 progressive passes and 3.63 shot creating actions per ninety minutes. This underlines the value he brings to the team in the final third. West Ham have some excellent players in midfield, with Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek establishing an excellent partnership. It will be a tough evening for the Arsenal attacking players, but Odegaard is in form and capable of making an impact on the match.
There is a growing appreciation for Jarrod Bowen and his ability. There have previously been links to Liverpool. Meanwhile, he is being closely monitored by Gareth Southgate and the England staff. It is easy to see why, as he carries a dual threat and has a work rate that makes him a nightmare to play against. The 24-year-old has contributed three goals and four assists in the Premier League this season. His underlying numbers suggest that his contributions will increase over the coming weeks, as he is regularly involved in the final third. He is averaging 0.33 expected goals (xG) and 0.18 expected assists (xA) per ninety minutes. This is very good and ranks him as one of the best players in the league, in terms of underlying metrics. He has the ability to unsettle the Arsenal defence on Wednesday.
There aren’t many injury concerns for Arsenal. Smith Rowe should be back involved and could start. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missed out at the weekend, due to a disciplinary issue. He could be back in the squad for the visit of West Ham.
It is hoped that Aaron Cresswell will be available for the trip to the Emirates Stadium. Ben Johnson, Kurt Zouma and Ryan Fredericks are longer term injuries. Angelo Ogbonna won’t be back for many months.
This is going to be a great indicator of where Arsenal are as a team. It is already accepted that West Ham United are a very good team, but there are question marks about the level of Mikel Arteta’s side. They need to perform better against rivals at the top of the league and this is an opportunity to do that. West Ham beat Chelsea recently, but there other results have been poor. They aren’t in great form and could be vulnerable on Wednesday night. A score draw could be a likely result.
Arsenal 1-1 West Ham United