Theo will heap the misery onto the sorry Hammers
Match Preview: West Ham vs Arsenal – Premier League – 04.12.2016
We’re getting to that time of year where the fixtures come so thick and fast you barely have time to process one result before you’re watching the next one unfold. Exiting the EFL Cup is hardly worth some of the opprobrium I’ve seen bandied about this week but I understand the frustration. It’s not a competition we should lose any sleep over but it was winnable and if there’s one thing we need to keep getting the taste of it’s winning.
The Gunners have a chance to get straight back on the horse with a trip to London Stadium to face an iffy West Ham side. The Hammers have been all over the place this season and shorn of the stability and consistency that underlined their decent finish last campaign.
Arsenal should fancy themselves for this game but first they must solve their Santi shaped problem. Cazorla is confirmed to be out until March and this only serves to compound an issue Wenger’s team have struggled with in recent weeks: how to win without Cazorla.
So integral is our diminutive Spanish magician to our overall play his absence has seen a drop in output for most of our front line as our various midfield combinations have struggled to get the ball into Brother Mesut. The midfield against Bournemouth looked decisively more creative and that is largely down to Xhaka. If anyone can fill the void left by Santi it is him. His passing range is far superior to that of Coquelin and Elneny but crucially he has vision and the mental acuity to pick at pass at speed. By contrast, Coquelin, for all his wonderful attributes, looks a little torpid when picking a pass and those few seconds difference between when they release the ball ultimately decides the match.
If Wenger was to trust Ramsey to partner Xhaka in this game I think not only will be solve our Santi problem but will have the answer to the question ‘what is our best midfield?’ for the next few seasons.
Olivier Giroud will likely miss out with a groin injury and Theo Walcott faces a late fitness test having picked up a knock against the Cherries. Both players have outstanding records against West Ham and will be sorely missed if they do not make the squad.
Theo should be okay for this match after being rested in midweek and if he gets onto the pitch I think he’ll continue his great form against our east London neighbours.
Cech; Gabriel, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Xhaka, Ramsey; Özil, Iwobi, Walcott; Alexis
I expect to see substitute appearances from Ox, Elneny and Lucas.
“We are close with the balance as Xhaka in midfield is moving upwards” – Arsène Wenger
Last 3 Meetings
- West Ham 3-3 Arsenal (09.04.2016)
- Arsenal 0-2 West Ham (09.08.2015)
- Arsena 3-0 West Ham (14.03.2015)
West Ham haven’t won a game since late October but despite their poor form we write them off at our peril. With Payet, Lanzini, Ayew, Antonio and the Ponytailed stuff of nightmares that is Andy Carroll in their ranks they have the talent to hurt us. Payet has created more chances than any other player this season by some distance and is deserving of the moniker ‘match winner’. Set-pieces is likely to be where the Hammers target Arsenal and we must be wary of Antonio who has scored 6 goals already.
Sakho is out for Bilic’s side but Andy Carroll is conveniently fit again. The Gunners must keep their focus at all times in this match. The Irons showed in April how easily they can turn a result around against us even when they’re playing terribly.
- Arsenal have won nine of the last 11 Premier League meetings between these clubs – but only earned a point from last season’s two fixtures.
- West Ham have let in two or more goals in each of their last seven home Premier League games against Arsenal.
- The Gunners are unbeaten in eight league visits to West Ham (W6, D2).
- West Ham are without a win in four Premier League games (D2, L2).
- Arsenal are unbeaten in 12 Premier League matches (W8, D4).
- All three of the Hammers’ league wins this season have been by 1-0 scorelines.
- The Gunners have gone 11 away matches without defeat in the division since losing at Old Trafford in February.
- The Hammers have lost 10 points from winning positions, more than any other Premier League side.
- Arsenal have scored six headed goals in this season’s Premier League – only Crystal Palace (seven) can better that.
- Dimitri Payet has created 46 chances in the Premier League this season, 11 more than any other player.
- Theo Walcott has scored five goals against West Ham in the Premier League, the most against any opponent he has faced.
- West Ham have not beaten Arsenal at home since a 1-0 win in 2006
- Olivier Giroud has been involved in more Premier League goals from the bench than any other player this season (three goals, one assist).
Courtesy of Opta & BBC Sport.
1-3. Theo and Alexis to score for Arsenal.
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