HomeFootball NewsArsenal vs West Ham Utd: Preview, expected line-ups, how to watch and...

Arsenal vs West Ham Utd: Preview, expected line-ups, how to watch and prediction

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The State of Play

After spending Christmas at the top of the Premier League, Arsenal were knocked off the summit of the table by Liverpool on Boxing, the Reds beating Burnley 0-2. However, the Gunners can bounce straight back into top spot with three points here against West Ham. Their most recent fixture saw them take on Jurgen Klopp’s side at Anfield, coming out with a 1-1 draw in an entertaining battle.

As it stands, Arsenal have lost just twice in the league this season, away to both Newcastle and Aston Villa. They are yet to lose at Emirates Stadium, picking up 23 points from a possible 27 available to them. Arsenal come into this game on the back of a five-match winning streak at home in the Premier League.

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West Ham Utd have not won at Emirates Stadium since August 2015, losing eight games in all competitions against the Gunners in North London since that 0-2 victory. But confidence is high among the Hammers’ camp following a 2-0 win over Manchester United this past weekend. This was West Ham’s third win across their last four Premier League fixtures.

Since breaking into the West Ham starting XI, new signing Mohammed Kudus has adapted brilliantly to life in the English top flight. He netted his sixth league goal of the campaign against the Red Devils, while Jarrod Bowen was on the scoresheet for the third straight game in all competitions, taking his overall tally for the season to 13. However, West Ham fans will be envious watching former captain Declan Rice take to the field in an Arsenal shirt for the second time this campaign, having joined the hosts in a big-money summer transfer.

Team News

The hosts will be forced into a change due to Kai Havertz’s suspension, the midfielder picking up a fifth yellow card vs Liverpool. This potentially opens the door for Leandro Trossard to start in a more central midfield role rather than out wide. Although a specialist central midfielder like Jorginho could be preferred. Thomas Partey, Jurrien Timber, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Fabio Viera all remain absent.

This contest has come too soon for versatile forward Michail Antonio, who will miss out again. However, centre-back Nayef Aguerd could return after missing the win against Man Utd due to a bout of sickness. Should Aguerd be passed fit, then him coming in for Angelo Ogbonna is likely to be the only change to West Ham’s starting XI.

Expected Line-ups

Arsenal: Raya; White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko; Odegaard, Rice; Saka, Trossard, Martinelli; Jesus

West Ham Utd: Areola; Coufal, Aguerd, Zouma, Emerson; Alvarez, Soucek; Bowen, Ward-Prowse, Paqueta; Kudus

What they Said

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta on his side’s opponents: “Very difficult. They are a really good side, really well coached. It’s incredible the success that they had last year. They are again this season showing a lot of consistency. They beat Spurs and Manchester United and that tells you everything about the difficulty of the game tomorrow and we’re going to have to be really good.”

West Ham manager David Moyes on how his former player Arteta has adapted to management: “”Mikel was always someone who had a deeper thought, was always thinking about football and always looking to prepare himself well. I think he comes from a really good background in terms of the clubs he’s been at, and then he’s worked under Pep Guardiola, one of, or if not the, best manager in the world. He’s dealt with becoming the manager of a club the size of Arsenal really well.”

When and How to Watch

The game at Emirates Stadium will kick off at 20:15 on Thursday December 28th and will be shown live on subscription service Amazon Prime in the UK.

Prediction

It’s critical that Arsenal protect themselves against the counter-attack with West Ham capable of breaking at pace through the likes of Bowen and Kudus, not to mention the creative quality of Lucas Paqueta. However, the Gunners should boast plenty of possession and dictate proceedings, keeping West Ham pinned inside their own half.

Home advantage should prove crucial for Arsenal, whose midfield dynamism and steel will be pivotal in them breaking the Hammers down. Expect former Hammer of the Year Rice to stand out more than most in what is likely to end up being a feisty encounter, which ends in a 2-1 Arsenal victory.

Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.

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