No Premier League results fell in our favour yesterday. How on earth did Brighton allow themselves to lose against Totts in the 97th minute – and there was me thinking De Zerbi was the next best thing since managerial sliced bread. Burnley and Everton put up a good fight in their games against Liverpool and Man City respectively but in the end, both lost. Newcastle United scraped past Nottingham Forest too.
This kind of feels like a crucial fixture for Arsenal because we’re on a good little run and now we face a West Ham team which has beaten us twice already this season. The League defeat at The Emirates was a real smash and grab because in every other area other than goals scored, we battered them. Up until the final shot, we played brilliantly. Sounds crazy considering we lost but it’s true. Chance after chance came but chance after chance was missed. Thirty shots were registered that day. Staggering really. Forget the ‘did the ball cross the line’ for their first goal, we should have made sure it didn’t matter by the end. The Mavropanos headed shouldn’t have mattered either although it’s something to be aware of today. Set pieces.
Having beaten us twice already this season, Moyes may feel he has unearthed the tactical blueprint to success in this contest, so we are unlikely to encounter too many strategic surprises. West Ham will let us have most of the possession. They averaged just 27 per cent in our previous two encounters, relying on a compact defensive shape to keep us at bay. In both games they protected their own 18-yard box superbly, so it is down to Arsenal’s players to play at a higher tempo with more imaginative movement.
In a 4-2-3-1 the Hammers will rarely press. Instead, they will sit off, look to regain the ball, and then produce rapid counter-attacks. They have scored six times from fast breaks in the Premier League, ranking them second in that department. Mohammed Kudus will raid down either wing, and no top-flight player has completed more successful dribbles than the tricky Ghanaian this term. Set-pieces will be another dangerous avenue for the hosts. They scored from a corner against us last time out, and in James Ward-Prowse they undoubtedly have the best dead ball technician in the division. No one has made more chances from them (33) than him, while only two other sides have produced more headed shots than Moyes’ side.
Only Manchester City and Everton have won at the London Stadium this season but, West Ham have not won a game at home or away in 2024 and last weekend, they were thumped 3-0 by Man Utd. David Moyes side couldn’t convert any of the twenty chances they created.
Bukayo Saka has recovered from whatever it was which saw him substituted during last weekend’s match against Liverpool but Gabriel Jesus, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Oleksandr Zinchenko’s availability will depend on how they got on during yesterday’s training session. What a boost it would be if all three are available for selection. Jurrien Timber, Thomas Partey and Fabio Vieira remain out.
If David Moyes names an unchanged starting eleven, Bowen will be up top, Cornet will be on the left behind him with Kudus on the right and Ward-Prowse in the middle. Behind them will be Soucek and Alvarez. Their back four is likely to be Aguerd and Zouma central with Emerson up against Bukayo Saka and Coufal up against either Martinelli or Trossard, depending on which Arsenal player starts. 6’ 5” Areola will be between the sticks.
We know what to expect from West Ham so there’s absolutely no reason we shouldn’t be prepared. I’m sure Mikel Arteta will have driven home to each and every player what needs to be done but once the players cross the white line, it’s up to them to execute the plan. Quick counter attacking breaks and set-pieces are West Ham’s main threat. They’ll defend well too I’m sure although if Man Utd could put three past them, I’d like to think Arsenal can too. Again though, that all depends on whether or not Arsenal are on form in the shooting department.
I’ve no idea what plan Mikel Arteta has in mind today but I suspect he’ll start with Kai Havertz again. I know he’s not every Arsenal fan’s favourite player but his height, defensive abilities and general awkward style of play, does seem to annoy opponents. Maybe frustrate is a better word than annoy. To be honest, he frustrates me too but then so does Gabriel Jesus to name just one of a few others.
We’ve seen what these Arsenal players can do against one of the best teams in England, we need to see something similar, if not better today. On their day, Arsenal are capable of beating any club, I’m convinced of that. We need that kind of day today, a day when everything clicks and the points, all three of them, go to the team in yellow…..
I nearly forget. Arsenal women take on Man City in the FA Cup today. Kick off is at 12.30 and it’s live on BBC1. Good luck to them.
Catch up in the comments..