West Ham United v Arsenal Match Preview
Saturday, 6th October, 2012
Following their first defeat of the season, three points is imperative for Arsene Wenger's men to ensure they don't go into the international break trailing the pace setters too emphatically.
West Ham will have been buoyed by Monday night's away win at QPR and the return to fitness of Andy Carroll. Ties between the two sides at Upton Park are rarely anything other than tight and nervy and this one promises much the same.
Arsene Wenger has often unfairly been derided by the media for his supposed indifference to long ball football (never really backed up by any concrete quotoes you understand). Arsene was again effusive in his praise of Allardyce's style.
'"It is too simplistic to call West Ham a long-ball team," said Wenger. "They have a good mixture of technical midfielders with Diame, Noble and Nolan. They did very well on Monday night [in the 2-1 win at QPR] in the middle and dominated. West Ham is always a difficult place to go because they have a good side. They have a good balance, they are efficient, they have a good mixture between direct play and playing on the ground.
"They have Carroll and [Carlton] Cole up front who can go for high balls. We know we will have a big challenge there, we know we will only get away with the points if we perform at our best."
Meanwhile, Sam Allardyce is well aware of the dangers posed by the visitors, '
My home record against tomorrow`s opponents Arsenal isn`t bad — played 13, won five, drawn three.
If you want to play effectively against a team such as Arsenal, you have to be tactically ready — the players need to know what they must do to try and stop a fabulous team from passing at will.
You ignore that at your peril because you might last for 50 minutes or even longer. Inevitably, though, you run out of steam and they`ll punish you.
If it happens late in the game, Arsenal will beat you by one or two goals. If it happens earlier, it could be five or six.
Everyone will have to be on top of their game tomorrow. As high as the expectation is based on our start, we might play our best and still lose.
West Ham United Team News:
It is expected that Andy Carroll will once again start on the bench, having returned on Monday night from a five week absence with a hamstring tear.
Winston Reid is available despite being knocked unconscious in the 2-1 win over QPR on Monday. Joey O'Brien (hamstring), Jack Collison (knee) and Alou Diarra (thigh) are all out of contention.
Player to watch: Kevin Nolan
If he starts, Andy Carroll is likely o be the player that will put some nerves into Gooner bellies on Saturday, but his bezzy mate and captain Kevin Nolan is equally as threatening.
Nolan has a long and established career of scoring goals from midfield and playing off of the likes of Cole and Carroll, as well as the trickery of Ricardo Vaz Te and the delivery of Matt Jarvis. If West Ham are to defeat Arsenal, Nolan will be a central character in the orchestra. Be sure of that.
Arsenal Team News:
Per Mertesacker will have a late test after becoming the latest player in the squad to suffer a bout of the sniffles. Francis Coquelin is a doubt with a knee problem and Abou Diaby's thigh injury keeps him out.
Wojciech Szczesny (ankle), Tomas Rosicky (achilles) and Lukasz Fabianski (shoulder) are also unavailable. Bacary Sagna, Jack Wilshere and Emmanuel Frimpong will play for the U-21s on Monday in their quests to return to full fitness.
Player to watch: Olivier Giroud
Much focus has been spent on Giroud's goalscoring, but it's seldom reported that he leads the way for Arsenal in terms of assists.
With Abou Diaby's physicality missing for defending set pieces, Giroud could come in handy there too. Aaron Ramsey gambled on Giroud winning a flick on on Wednesday and was rewarded. The team are slowly getting used to Giroud it seems.
Match Facts & Stats
The two sides have played one another 118 times. Arsenal have won 50 of those, lost 32 with 36 draws.
Arsenal are unbeaten in their last 9 Premier League away matches.
Arsenal haven't lost at Upton Park since Marlon Harewood's 88th minute winner separated the sides in November 2006.
Yossi Benayoun lines up for West Ham as a loanee against the team he was loaned to with such distinction last season.
The referee for this one will be Phil Dowd. This should be interesting because he is terrible.
I'm going for a 1-1 draw. Giroud for Arsenal, Nolan for West Ham.
Arsenal play Norwich City away on 20th October, meanwhile West Ham are at home to Southampton on the same day.