Writer: Tim Stillman
Date:Wednesday December 25 2013
26th December, 2013
Arsenal travel to Upton Park on Boxing Day having taken only 2 points out of the last 9 available and the Gunners will want to get back on track against relegation threatened West Ham.
The Irons have struggled to score goals all season, especially at Upton Park. With Andy Carroll injured and Kevin Nolan yet to notch a league goal, Allardyce's job is probably on the line, adding to the pressure for him.
Arsenal meanwhile will look to rotate their team, with Arsene Wenger hinting that he would need to rest Mesut Ozil over the holiday period. Santi Cazorla has been an unused substitute in the last two matches and will be looking to play himself back into form.
Arsenal haven't been hot favourites for a game for some weeks now and they will have to readjust to the pressure of being expected to win- a pressure they have handled exquisitely for much of the season.
Arsene Wenger maintains there are no easy matches in the Premier League, citing Chelsea's loss against Stoke recently, which he hopes will inspire his Arsenal side.
"In the Premier League, we have learned that this year it is difficult everywhere. For example Chelsea lost at Stoke a few weeks ago.
'Now we have to go to West Ham on Boxing Day and on top of everything it's a derby. We have given a lot against Chelsea so we need to make sure that we are completely focused on this game."
"It`s a local derby on Boxing Day," said the manager, "and we know that West Ham have made surprising results.
"They have won twice at Tottenham this season now and can be a tough opponent.
"I think everybody takes West Ham seriously and expects great resistance from them. Last year we did well against them - we have to be inspired by that, go there and play our game again. But they have good players, always a good crowd and it`s a derby so they are always up for it."
Irons boss Sam Allardyce has intimated that his will be a safety first approach this time around, after a couple of defeats against Arsenal last season.
'Arsenal had a very tactical game (against Chelsea). We could do with locking them out like Chelsea did.
'We got tumbled over twice by them last year, particularly at the Emirates, so we'll protect ourselves on Arsenal's abilities and then try to exploit their weaknesses.'
West Ham welcome back captain Kevin Nolan from a three match suspension for the visit of Arsenal. James Tomkins is still in the squad despite his arrest on Sunday.
Andy Carroll (ankle), Winston Reid (foot) and Ricardo Vaz Te (knee) are all long term absentees. Goalkeeper Adrian could keep Jussi Jaaskelainen on the bench having started the 3-1 defeat at Old Trafford last weekend.
West Ham United (from): McCartney, Nolan, Tomkins, Jarvis, Rat, Collison, Maiga, Adrian, Taylor, Ravel, Noble, O'Brien, Diarra, Collins, Demel, Jaaskelainen, Downing, C.Cole, J.Cole.
In a West Ham side that has struggled to inspire this season, Ravel Morrison has become the East Londoners' star turn. Capable of a mazy dribble and a moment of inspiration, much rests on the shoulders of Morrison.
West Ham's tactics will predominantly be to spoil, if they are to take the leap towards three points, you feel that Ravel Morrison will have to be involved somewhere.
Arsenal have no new injuries to contend with following the 0-0 draw with Chelsea. That means Jack Wilshere will complete his two match suspension.
Laurent Koscielny (knee) faces a late fitness test. Alex Oxlade Chamberlain (knee), Yaya Sanogo (back) and Abou Diaby (knee) are all out.
Arsenal (from): Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Rosicky, Arteta, Podolski, Ozil, Giroud, Walcott, Ramsey, Monreal, S.Cazorla, Flamini, Fabianski, Bendtner, Jenkinson, Gibbs, Gnabry.
With just two goals in his last ten games and a presentable chance squandered against Chelsea, eyes have begun to wander towards the imminently opening transfer window.
The words 'we need a world class striker' are back on the lips of Arsenal supporters. Whilst the all round job Giroud does for the team is widely acknowledged, his ruthlessness in front of goal is once again in question, with chances being snatched at rather than caressed as they were in the early part of the season.
West Ham have lost eight and won none of their last 10 Premier League games against Arsenal.
Theo Walcott has scored in his last three Barclays Premier League appearances against
Olivier Giroud has scored three goals in his two appearances against the Hammers and Santi Cazorla has two in two.
After going seven games without a victory in the Premier League away at a Sam Allardyce team (D3 L4), Arsene Wenger has enjoyed two victories in a row.
This is Arsenal`s 100th London derby away from home in the Premier League and the Gunners have won 44 out of 99; more victories on the road than any other team in capital clashes.
West Ham have won their last three Premier League games played on December 26, scoring nine goals in the process.
The referee will be Phil Dowd. He will be practising his posturing in front of the mirror as we speak.
I think Arsenal will get back on track with a narrow 1-0 win, with Theo Walcott nabbing the winner.
Arsenal will play away at Newcastle on Sunday at 1.30pm. West Ham are at home to West Brom on Saturday at 12.45pm.
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Date:Wednesday December 25 2013
Wenger: Ozil Is Over Bayern Penalty Miss (Monday March 10 2014)
With Commitment & Belief We Have a Chance (Monday March 10 2014)
Match Discussion - Bayern Munich (a) (Monday March 10 2014)
It's Now Or Never As Wigan Stun City (Sunday March 9 2014)
City or Wigan In The Semi-Final - Cheers Wrighty (Sunday March 9 2014)
Regenerated Ozil Gets Down & Dirty (Sunday March 9 2014)
Would You Want van Persie Back? (Sunday March 9 2014)
Wenger: We Take The FA Cup Seriously (Sunday March 9 2014)
Arsenal 4 Everton 1 (Saturday March 8 2014)
Stats: Arsenal v Everton (Saturday March 8 2014)
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