The European dream is still alive for the Hammers, but how long will it last?
We’ll probably know either way come 3pm tomorrow afternoon in what is a massive game for West Ham and their pursuit of Champions League football.
Arsenal are fresh off the back of a very convincing 4-0 win against Watford whilst the Hammers will feel that they were unlucky not to get a win at home to Crystal Palace. It is certainly going to be a close encounter but Hammers fans should be confident in their team’s capabilities, especially against the top sides.
Against the current top five, Slaven Bilic’s side have lost just two games out of seven league meetings so far in this Premier League campaign. Both of those losses came against the current top two whilst the opening day victory against Arsenal is certainly something Irons fans won’t forget in a hurry. Although these famous wins have been fantastic, a Boleyn Ground win against Arsenal is a big ask for a side that lacks experience in this sort of position.
There have been a number of times this season when the Hammers have surprised everyone and beaten teams unexpectedly. This time, West Ham are expected to pick up points and it will be interesting to see how the team reacts with the air of expectation around Upton Park. Get the win and it will inject even more confidence into a side refusing to give up on Champions League football. Lose and the Hammers may have to admit defeat in chasing the top four.
A big advantage for Bilic is the fact that Arsenal lack a cutting edge when the going gets tough. Former West Ham manager Harry Redknapp summed up exactly what the Gunners were up against in his recent column for the London Evening Standard:
“The atmosphere at Upton Park will be incredible because West Ham know a top-four finish is still on.
“Arsenal will have to roll up their sleeves and prepare to get stuck in because otherwise they are going to get walked all over.
“Slaven Bilic will get his team playing at a high tempo and with the crowd roaring them on, it won’t be for the faint-hearted.”
As Redknapp states, Bilic will want West Ham to take the game to Arsenal, something they are more capable of now than they have ever been. It’s no secret that this is when the Gunners are at their most vulnerable due to their tendency to buckle under pressure. Therefore, an intimidating atmosphere alongside a typically solid home performance could spell the end of Arsenal’s title hopes and prolong West Ham’s hopes of reaching the big time.
History suggests that Arsenal should prevail in this one. However, if there’s one thing we’ve learnt this season, history stands for nothing in the Premier League right now.
Can the Hammers topple the Gunners and keep their European hopes alive? Comment below