Writer: Nick Simmonett
Date:Monday December 31 2007
The Emirates Stadium
Arsenal will want to make sure there's no repeat of last season's antics when West Ham visit on New Years Day. I'm sure I don't need to remind you that West Ham came to Arsenal and won last season. They were the only team to do so.
That's not to say that they deserved it, but you don't always get what you deserve in football (David Moyes will tell you all about that).
Should West Ham do the unthinkable and win, it would give Manchester United to snatch top spot from Arsenal, going into another congested month for the Gunners.
Both teams will go into the game brimming with confidence after excellent wins at the weekend.
Arsenal came from behind to smash Everton 4-1 at Goodison while West Ham did what no other team has done this season and beat Manchester United after going a goal down.
Arsenal last six: P6 W3 D2 L1
Arsenal's single defeat in the last six league games came in the form of a shock defeat at Middlesbrough. Draws away to Newcastle and Portsmouth are the only other two blemishes on the Gunners' record.
West Ham last six: P6 W3 D1 L2
Those two West Ham defeats were to Chelsea and a flying Everton side, and of course one of those victories was over United.
Arsenal could end the day five points clear, but that would take a win at Old Trafford for Birmingham, something that isn't going to happen.
Despite Arsenal sitting top of the league, they have still drawn 25% of their league games this season, something that will need to change if they are to win the league.
Former Gooner Matthew Upson spole to The Mirror ahead of his return to Arsenal. The England international believes his new team has a chance of being a 'top side': 'It's clear to see that when everyone is fit we have a good chance of being a top side.
'We're not too far away from that at the moment, but a couple of results can change things.
'We've seen the character and capability this team actually have on Saturday. It's coming together but we need to be more settled. If we can get a regular starting 11 it will help.
'We are getting good results, but I think we can get very good results with a more settled structure. This win should give us a lot more confidence and belief and help us climb the table.'
Arsenal gaffer Arsene Wenger spoke of the need to keep on winning if his team are to win the Premiership this season: 'It could be 90 points [to win the title] because Manchester United look like they can win games wherever they want.
'We need to keep the pace up. West Ham will have gained confidence from beating United.
'It's important we focus and not think that because we won 4-1 at Everton we just have to walk out to win the game.'
Arsenal will once again be without Robin van Persie after Arsene Wenger revealed that he will be out for at least 10 days with a muscle problem.
Gilberto Silva will also miss out. The midfielder has returned to training but is still short after suffering from flu.
Denilson returns after serving a three match ban following his red card at Blackburn in the Carling Cup.
Arsene Wenger has opted to rest Bacary Sagna and draft in England Under-21 international Justin Hoyte to cover.
Theo Walcott returns after suffing from illness, but is unlikely to start against The Hammers.
The Arsenal boss suggested there will be some changes from the team that beat Everton. He told Arsenal TV: 'There will be small changes.We try to keep the stability in the side but keep the freshness as well with some players coming in.'
The nippy striker opened his Premiership account on Saturday with a brace against Everton. Nine goals from twelve starts is some return from a player in his first season at the club.
Wenger predicted that he would shine in the second half of the season, so expect him to start again and put in another fantastic performance.
You've got to feel for West Ham. It wasn't so long ago that a large chunk of my previews was Arsenal's injury list. This time it's West Ham's turn to be missing a crop of players.
Craig Bellamy, Kieron Dyer and Bobby Zamora are definantly out.
Julien Faubert, Matthew Etherington and Lee Bowyer are all almost certain to miss out while there is also serious doubts over Nolberto Solano, Scott Parker and Freddie Ljungberg.
The England striker has netted three goals in his last three away games for West Ham. He's a player I rate highly.
He made a pest of himself against united and I think that if West Ham can keep him fit he'll score the goals to take them places.
Arsenal haven't beaten West Ham at home since January 2003
If The Gunners win it'll be the first time they have done the double over West Ham this decade
Arsenal have never lost when Adebayor has scored
If Diaby comes on for Arsenal it'll be his 50th game for the club
West Ham are still the only away team to win at The Grove
They were also the only side to do the double over Arsenal last season
Mr Chris Foy will do the business in black on Tuesday. He has issued 37 cards in his 11 Premiership games this season (1 red, 36 yellow). That's an average of just over 3 cards a game.
It'll be a close game. The Hammers have been tight at the back in recent games, and they'll not come with the intention of playing flowing football. It could take a few more punts ip the park to get the goals for Arsenal, and West Ham are dangerous at set pieces, as they showed against United. 2-2
Date:Monday December 31 2007
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|5. Man Utd||34||17||8||9||12||59|
|6. West Ham||34||14||14||6||14||56|
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