Arsenal take on West Ham at the London stadium in the English capital and like every other derby so far this season, it is going to be an encounter to enjoy, especially for the neutrals and those on the winning side.
With only 3 points seperating the much improved Man United side in sixth, as well as Chelsea in fourth and Arsenal, it is certainly a must win game for the North London Side.
Being an away game for the Gunners, it is no surprise the amount of caution Arsenal boss Unai Emery has been hammering on his his pre-match conference.
Speaking of pre-match conferences, Unai Emery has further stated clearly that the club will not be making any permanent transfers this window. However, loan deals are bound to be the way to go to further strengthen this Arsenal side.
Here is a quote from Unai Emery’s press conference;
“We cannot sign permanently. We can only loan players. Only loan players”
With various sources claiming negotiations are on going between the club and players such as Denis Suarez of Barcelona and Ever Banega of Sevilla, there’s much to be hopeful about before the window slams shut on the 31s of this month.
However, that is entirely another kettle of fish as the West Ham game takes priority at the moment. Hence let’s get right to it then!
Arsenal have a whooping number of six returnees from the treatment table, which in itself is a blessing and curse ironically.
It is a blessing in the sense that the options available for Unai Emery to select from, just got bigger and better. Plus considering the defensive frailities shown of late, in the absence of most of these players, their return couldn’t be more welcomed.
That said, it is a curse as well as most of this players are freshly off the treatment table, ergo they will most likely be lacking match fitness in the competitive aspect of things.
Furthermore, players like Laurent Koscienly who have had to be rushed back and had weird showings, will most likely be giving way to this season’s usual suspects like Mustafi.
There are other players in this category, who have held down the fort as well but will most likely face similar fates. This certainly can’t be good for morale.
Complacency with the availability of returnees is another reality to be weary of. However, if there is anything one can be sure of, it is that Unai Emery has got a plan.
Here are quotes from the same pre-match conference, highlighting such plans;
On Pellegrini’s style:
“He’s a very good coach, with a lot of experience and here he’s won the Premier League with Manchester City. I know he needs time to create his idea with the team. I think they are improving and they also have good individual players with quality, like Anderson, like Arnautovic – who are very good players.
They are playing at home with their supporters and that’s difficult for us. Each away match is a very big challenge for us to find consistency and progression with our way. Saturday is a new challenge. We are very [convinced] to play and to give big work in finding our victory”
On Team news:
“This week they are working with us with quality, Mustafi, Monreal and Bellerin. Tomorrow we need to do the last training before the West Ham game. This training session is important [to work out who can play]. Mesut Ozil is also training with us.
We’ve got the same injuries with Welbeck and Holding. Mkhitaryan has been training with us and Mavropanos for the past 10 days, who can help us in the next matches and start playing with the under-23s. At the moment we are better than we were a week ago.”
On how he is planning his team selection with so many options available:
“We want to find our best performance with the players. Some players can recover their positions in the squad and in the first XI, and some of them we need their performances now. Above all, we are going to have one mix of the players that have been playing and helping us with good performances and adapt against West Ham, imposing our idea on the pitch. That’s the mix [we need] for Saturday. It’s good news that we can have more players available”
The six returnees are:
Hector Bellerin, Nacho Monreal, Laurent Koscienly, Mavropanos, Mesut Özil and Skhodran Mustafi.
Bernd Leno should keep his place between the sticks, Hector Bellerin as right wingback, Sead Kolasinac as left wingback, Sokratis, Mustafi and Koscienly, should fill up the 3 centreback roles.
Xhaka and Torreira to make up the engine room in the middle of the park, whilst Alex Iwobi, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, should occupy the frontline.
However, Unai Emery has proved time and time again that he is difficult to predict, so it stands to reason that the above may not be his preferred list nor formation.
Anotonio, Samir Nasir, Andy Caroll and Arnautovic, represent a force that can cause an upset in their home if care isn’t taken by the Gunners.
Referee: Jon Moss
Time 13:30 WAT