West Ham United v Arsenal Preview

Published 02/12/16 

After both exiting the League Cup on Wednesday night West Ham and Arsenal will be keen to avoid a winter wobble when they meet at the London Stadium on Saturday.

Neither side enjoyed a November to be overly happy with, though West Ham’s need for improvement is more pressing as they remain just a solitary point above the relegation zone with over a third of the campaign played.

Arsenal though will be tasked with playing catch up with at least one of their top four rivals when they kick off on Saturday evening, though Chelsea’s trip to Manchester City provides an opportunity for them to make up ground with at least one of the sides ahead of them in the table.

The Gunners won just two of six games last month, West Ham none of four (though their performances steadily improved against the likes of Tottenham and Manchester United). Both can ill afford to let last month’s struggles spill over.

TEAM NEWS

West Ham will once more be left struggling for striking options with Diafra Sakho out until 2017 after injuring his thigh in Sunday’s draw at Manchester United. Youngster Ashley Fletcher led the line for the second match at Old Trafford and may be asked to do the same again with Andy Carroll still doubtful.

Both wingbacks – Aaron Cresswell and Michail Antonio – were taken off with injuries in the 4-1 loss and Bilic may find himself forced to reshuffle his defence on the fly should one or both of them fail to recover in time for Saturday’s game. Andre Ayew also remains a fitness doubt after missing Wednesday's EFL Cup exit.

Wenger faces plenty of injury concerns of his own, with limited right-back options after Mathieu Debuchy joined Hector Bellerin on the sidelines for an extended period after suffering a hamstring injury 15 minutes into Sunday’s win over Bournemouth.

Even worse news came on Thursday when deep-lying playmaker Santi Cazorla was ruled out for three months. Wenger has struggled to find a workable midfield duo in the Spaniard’s absence but this may provide a chance for Granit Xhaka, who received praise from Wenger for his ability to “play between the lines” on Sunday.

Olivier Giroud should return after missing the League Cup tie with a slight groin strain whilst Mohamed Elneny is not expected to be a long-term absentee after being forced off with diarrhoea in Wednesday’s 2-0 EFL Cup loss to Southampton.

POSSIBLE STARTING LINEUPS

West Ham : Randolph; Kouyate, Reid, Ogbonna; Fernandes, Obiang, Noble, Masuaku; Lanzini, Payet; Fletcher

Arsenal : Cech; Jenkinson, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Xhaka, Ramsey; Walcott, Ozil, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Sanchez

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