Arsenal will look to continue their winning start to the Premier League season against crisis-ridden West Ham United this weekend.
Much to the disappointment of fans of slapstick comedy, Arsenal swatted Fulham aside last weekend with a controlled and competent display. New signing Willian played a part in all three goals and defensive recruit Gabriel was impressive at both ends of the field. Star man Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang also opened his account for the season and signed a new contract extension during the week. As such, the mood at the Emirates is something approaching buoyant.
The contrast to their opponents could not be more stark. After a tumultuous pre-season, West Ham began their campaign with a disappointing defeat to Newcastle. More worryingly, they looked distinctly second-best to Steve Bruce’s side.
However, a much-changed line-up saw off Charlton Athletic in the Carabao Cup during midweek and the Hammers ran Arsenal close at the Emirates last season. With a horrendous run of fixtures coming up, West Ham must scrabble for points where they can.
When Is Kick Off? Saturday 19 September
What Time Is Kick Off? 20:00 (BST)
Where Is it Played? Emirates Stadium
TV Channel/Live Stream? Sky Sports Premier League (UK), fuboTV (US)
Referee? Michael Oliver
Arsenal could be missing up to eight first-team players for Saturday’s game, including David Luiz and Granit Xhaka. The Swiss midfielder suffered ankle injury at Fulham last weekend and is currently being assessed by club doctors. Aside from this, manager Mikel Arteta must be tempted to stick with the line-up that saw his side start the season so impressively.
David Moyes possesses more pressing selection issues. Last Saturday’s line-up was effectively the same one that ended last season in good form but West Ham looked sluggish and unfit during the Newcastle defeat. After expensive attackers Sebastien Haller, Felipe Anderson and Andriy Yarmolenko impressed in the Carabao Cup, Moyes must be tempted to change up his side.
Arsenal: Leno; Bellerin, Holding, Gabriel, Tierney; Elneny, Xhaka, Maitland-Niles; Willian, Lacazette, Aubameyang.
West Ham: Fabianski, Fredericks, Diop, Ogbonna, Masuaku; Bowen, Rice, Soucek, Fornals; Haller, Antonio.
Arsenal have started their season well. Fresh from winning the FA Cup last month, Arteta’s men saw off Liverpool in the Community Shield and swept past Fulham in their Premier League opener. Arteta has quietly built some resilience, a quality lacking at Arsenal for years, and their fans will be hoping this will continue throughout the season.
West Ham ended last season well, but looked incredibly disjointed during their opening Premier League match against Newcastle. None of last season’s deficiencies seemed remedied and the Hammers barely looked like scoring once they fell behind. After narrowly surviving last year, the odds of avoiding another relegation battle look slim already.
Here are each side’s last five competitive results.
Fulham 0-3 Arsenal (12/9)
Arsenal 2-1 Chelsea (1/8)
Arsenal 3-2 Watford (26/7)
Aston Villa 1-0 Arsenal (21/7)
Arsenal 2-0 Manchester City (18/7)
West Ham 0-2 Newcastle (12/9)
West Ham 1-1 Aston Villa (26/7)
Manchester United 1-1 West Ham (22/7)
West Ham 3-1 Watford (17/7)
Norwich 0-4 West Ham (11/7)
On paper, this looks like it’ll be a routine home win. Arsenal and West Ham have each started the season in contrasting form and the mood around both clubs could hardly be in more stark of a contrast.
Arsenal will be aiming to challenge for Champions League qualification this year and look well set to do so. The news that star forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has signed a new contract extension will further raise hopes in north London.
Meanwhile, West Ham already look to be in disarray. No signings have yet been forthcoming and a horrendous run of early-season fixtures has heightened fears of another relegation battle. The Hammers travel across the capital with no expectation and very little hope.
It is hard to look beyond Arsenal continuing their winning start to the season.
Prediction: Arsenal 3-0 West Ham