Arsenal travel to the London Stadium tonight to face fellow Londoners West Ham and this game will be a test of aspirations for David Moyes’ side to finish in the top four. This will only be the fourth time the Hammers face Arsenal when they are above them on the Premier League table.
It’s been a sensational season so far for West Ham and manager David Moyes. Who could have predicted that they would be so far up the Premier League table and showing such a rich vein of form? In fact, the manager’s only major mistake this season was appearing as a doppelganger for Stars Wars Palpatine in a spooky post-match interview.
David Moyes appears to be the perfect fit for the East London outfit and although this season isn’t typical in any shape or form, credit must go to Moyes and his players. He’s even getting performances out of Manchester United midfielder Jessie Lingard whom I had thought was vastly overrated but under the Scot, he’s looked like a decent player.
It’s about this time of year when West Ham are trying to edge away from the relegation zone by pinching points or grinding out draws but this Premier League campaign has the Hammers sitting pretty in fifth. Ok, they aren’t exactly in contention for the title but at the time of writing this, they are only nine points off second.
West Ham would have been in an even better position if they’d had their share of luck and with a reasonable run-in, 3 points from their clash with Arsenal would make their position against their North London opponents even stronger. Arsenal can’t afford a slip up if they are to creep towards the top five with West Ham who are 7 points ahead but let’s not get carried away, there’s a lot of work to be done to get a victory.
There’s little to choose between them in goal differences but if Arsenal are to claim the spoils, they need to stop the unforced errors and make more of their chances. Try your best to forget how bad they were against Olympiakos, that sort of performance will see you end up empty-handed but if the gunners put in a shift they could easily win 1-3.
Don’t expect West Ham to be shy in front of goal, they sweep forward in numbers and unlike Arsenal, are capable of taking what chances they get. This is a big game, in some ways bigger than the North London Derby, but the Gunners will have to remain focused at the back and at the top end, however, another rotation is due.
Martinelli’s cameo would suggest at least 70 minutes on the pitch and with Aubameyang squandering another clutch of chances, he could see himself on the bench in favour of the industrious Lacazette. Pepe or Willian could go left or right but I only expect one to make the final cut, but with a record of only guessing 8 out of 11 recently, who knows what the Spaniard is thinking anymore.
Antonio, Soucek, Lingard, Rice, and Yarmolenko could provide a stiff test with their constant drive and ambition, and let’s not forget the old trooper Mark Noble, the epitome of the West Ham cause. I still think we’ll win but the smart money is on a draw, let’s hope that doesn’t happen, it doesn’t help anyone.
Preferred Team: Leno; Cedric, Luiz, Gabriel, Tierney; Partey, Xhaka, Odegaard; Saka or Pepe, Lacazette, Martinelli.