Back to Premier League matters as we take on West Ham at The Emirates.
It comes on the back of a strenuous, but ultimately routine win at Fratton Park against Portsmouth in the FA Cup. The win put us in the Quarter-Finals and in with a shout of some silverware this season that has looked out of reach for so long – but we cannot lose sight of the bottom line – entry back into the Champions League.
Mikel Arteta has spoken of our chances in his pre-match press conference and confirmed that if we continue to win – and achieve some form of consistency – then a top four spot could be up for grabs. It is a long shot, but one we must aim for.
West Ham though, will be a tough test. The Hammers narrowly missed out against Liverpool recently and gave them a scare before falling short. They then comprehensively defeated a resurgent Southampton side. That win took them out of the bottom three – and it means they are a side that has hit some form.
West Ham can play a bit and can mix it up. Their physical edge will give us a real test but we must first have our house in order before we worry about the opposition.
Mikel Arteta will have one eye on the Man City game in less than a week and he will adjust his side accordingly.
Who is in and who’s out?
Lucas Torreira is out for the foreseeable after confirmation that his injury incurred against Pompey was an ankle break.
It means rotation in midfield is a must to keep things fresh. We could see Matteo Guendouzi start this game alongside the stamina-fuelled Granit Xhaka, which would give Dani Ceballos fresh legs against Man City – or we could play Ainsley Maitland-Niles in the defensive role here, as AMN hasn’t featured heavily for a while.
In attack we have plenty of options. Reiss Nelson had a stormer against Pompey and could start this game too, while Gabi Martinelli is a big shout for a start. It will be our striker spot that is up for discussion though, with Eddie Nketiah the man in form ahead of the more established Alexandre Lacazette.
Player to Watch
The winger-turned-striker has been the difference maker for the Hammers recently. He tormented Southampton and he was a real menace to Liverpool too. He has electric pace, is so strong in the air and has a decent shot too. It’s easy to see why he was capped and on this form, he could easily be recalled. We need to watch his runs.
How This Could Go
This will be more difficult than it appears on paper. West Ham are fighting relegation and should be cannon fodder for us at home but they look dangerous right now and we have the capacity to let teams off the hook.
We need to keep possession and stay on the front foot. That would be handy if Ceballos plays as that is his speciality, but if the Spaniard doesn’t start, then we need someone to push us toward the goal – and rapidly.
We can bypass their midfield with quick passing and if we get a couple, then the resistance can be quelled. The longer this goes on though, the more they could believe – and belief is a strong motivator.
This is a must win game with Man City around the corner. We have the team, we must take our chances when they fall.
Predicted team – Leno, Bellerin, Luiz, Mustafi, Saka, Xhaka, Guendouzi, Martinelli, Ozil, Nelson, Aubameyang
Predicted Scoreline – 2-0 to The Arsenal
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