Arsenal vs West Ham United
West Ham United vs Arsenal is always a tense affair inside the Bowden household with half the family supporting the Gunners and my father and I supporting the mighty Irons, so come 9.30 tonight there will be unbridled joy for one half of the house and sheer disappointment in the other.
Of course according to the stats 63% of the time it is the Arsenal half who is smiling, but with Arsenal in wretched form and with injuries galore, is it my time to celebrate?
Arsene Wenger told press that the Hammers will play without fear at the Emirates tonight and with Sam Allardyce claiming the Irons aren’t quite safe yet the Hammers are bound to give it ago.
But this is West Ham we are talking about, they face a team out of touch with plenty of injuries, it can only mean one thing a routine win for the Gunners, oh and for good measure the player Arsenal fans are calling the “French Carlton Cole” Yaya Sanogo will bag his first Arsenal goal.
It is a game the Hammers must attack, if Sam Allardyce side sit back and invite pressure it will play into Arsenal’s hands; teams that get into the faces of the North London club and attacked have been rewarded. With big Andy Carroll up top too the Arsenal backline will be fearful.
Sam Allardyce will have to make a tactical decision in regards to formation, with rumours of Kevin Nolan missing with a hamstring strain, Sam will have to decide whether to go two up top or just stick Joe Cole in the hole behind Carroll.
A win for the Hammers at the Emirates would get mean the Irons reach the magic 40 point mark, and would celebrate their first away win at the Emirates since that famous Bobby Zamora lob in 2007.
Sam Allardyce is looking for a repeat performance of last weekend’s Liverpool game with just one difference the Hammers pick up the result they deserved.
He said: “At this moment in time, it’s one game at a time and a big game on Tuesday night which I hope the players are looking forward to. I hope they can repeat the performance they gave against Liverpool, because we took Liverpool right to the very edge of getting a result against them, but they just managed to pip us in the end.”
For FA Cup finalists Arsenal this game is a must win as they saw Roberto Martinez’s Everton overtake them on Saturday. The Gunners now lie in 5th place, just outside the Champions League places for the first time this season.
It would be the first time since 1997 that the Gunners would have missed out on Champions League football and would spell disaster for Arsene Wenger and his men. This is a game that they will target to emphatically end their sticky spell of results.
They will though be without key men, Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott and Mesut Ozil, while Lukas Podolski faces a late fitness test. Therefore, people will argue this is West Ham’s best chance to beat the Gunners for a long time.
Arsene Wenger though came out fighting, saying that the Champions League is still the clubs priority despite going through to the FA Cup final on penalties on Saturday. He believes his clubs desire to be in the Champions League will give his side the edge over Everton.
He said: “What will be an advantage is our desire to play in this competition because we love the Champions League and just to imagine how much we love it will help us to achieve it.”
“I would like them rather to concentrate on the pleasure to be in it [than worry about not qualifying].”
With Arsenal plagued by injuries and the Hammers with a near fully fit squad to choose from, the Hammers have a chance, but must attack and not sit back, a repeat of the heroic performance at Stamford Bridge would be more than welcome.
Arsenal: Arsenal trio Olivier Giroud, Laurent Koscielny and Wojciech Szczesny may be back in the starting line-up following the FA Cup semi-final win over Wigan Athletic.
But Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (groin), Nacho Monreal (dead leg) and Lukas Podolski (leg) are doubts.
West Ham United: West Ham captain Kevin Nolan has a hamstring injury and faces a late fitness test.
Joey O’Brien is back in training after a dislocated shoulder but George McCartney and Marco Borriello are out.
How they could line up:
Sagna – Mertesacker – Vermaelen – Gibbs
Kallstrom – Arteta
Gnabry – Cazorla – Podolski (if fit) Bendtner is not
West Ham United:
Demel- Reid- Tomkins- Armero
Downing- Nolan/ J.Cole- Diame
Last five games:
· Chelsea 6-0 Arsenal
· Arsenal 2-2 Swansea
· Arsenal 1-1 Manchester City
· Everton 3-0 Arsenal
· Arsenal 1-1 Wigan (F.A Cup) (Arsenal through 4-2 on pens)
West Ham United:
· Stoke 3-1 West Ham
· West Ham 0-2 Manchester United
· West Ham 2-1 Hull
· Sunderland 2-1 West Ham
· West Ham 1-2 Liverpool
Arsenal: Giroud, Cazorla, Vermaelen
West Ham: Carroll, Noble, Adrian
Referee: Kevin Friend
Weather: Clear Night 10oC
Match Tickets: Sold out
Travel info: Good service on all underground lines
Bowdenwhu predicts: Arsenal 2-1 West Ham United
Come on you Irons!
Tweet me @Bowdenwhu with your score predictions and predicted team line ups