Arsenal vs West Ham preview: Gunners can heap more misery on the struggling Hammers.
by Mark Rowntree
Arsenal welcome London neighbours West Ham to the Emirates Stadium for their first home game of the 2020-21 Premier League season, with the primary objective of adding another three points and cementing their positive start to the season.
The Hammers have won just two of their previous 24 trips to Arsenal, going down to a 78th minute Alexandre Lacazette winner in March, while a quick-fire flurry of goals was enough to turn a deficit around (1-3) in the reverse fixture at the London Stadium last December.
West Ham lacked creativity in their opening day defeat against a rejuvenated Newcastle United and with a troublesome run of fixtures between now and Halloween - Wolves (H), Leicester (A), Tottenham (A), Man City (H) and Liverpool (A) – David Moyes could soon be staring deep into the abyss of a relegation cauldron.
Despite managing to steer his side away from the drop for the second time in recent years defensively-minded Moyes has failed to capture the imagination of Hammers supporters, and more worryingly for the club, a growing online campaign with the aim of driving owners David Gold, David Sullivan and Karren Brady from the tiller appears to be gathering momentum.
The controversial sale of Grady Diangana to newly-promoted West Bromwich Albion has attracted plenty of column inches, with skipper Mark Noble and prize asset Declan Rice stoking the fires via social media.
Added to that mix, a lack of activity in the transfer market (Tomas Soucek the only significant signing) coupled with a string of underperforming high profile stars – namely Jack Wilshere, Felipe Anderson and to a lesser extent Sebastien Haller – the omens aren’t particularly great.
Former Gunner Lukasz Fabianski endured an injury-hit season in the Hammers goal in 2019-20 failing to recapture his peak form from the previous campaign, while an initially promising Issa Diop hasn’t nailed down a rigid defensive partnership with Angelo Ogbonn
The Gunners are clearly upwardly mobile, but cultural change does take time and it is evident that Mikel Arteta is still nurturing the shift towards winning within the Arsenal squad. Equally, he’ll be perfectly aware that West Ham are somewhat of a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ side who can flirt between conceding goals left, right and centre and also being a fairly compact defensive unit of 11 with a pacy outlet in the shape of Michail Antonio at the other end of the park.
The Hammers displayed collective tenacity in various away games last season, with narrow 1-0 wins at Stamford Bridge and St. Mary’s, a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford, and a late 3-2 defeat at Anfield worth highlighting.
Arsenal are deserving odds-on favourites (1-2) to win this match and will almost certainly oblige. However, it could take a chunk of time to dismantle a stubborn West Ham rear-guard who may also introduce striker Sebastien Haller (offers offensive and defensive height) back into the fray following his brace of goals in the EFL Cup against Charlton on Tuesday. Therefore, the main selection is for an Arsenal win (coupled with fewer than 2.5 goals in the game) at more rewarding odds of 16-5.
Arsenal and Under 2.5 Goals:
Arsenal to Win to Nil:
Time of the First Goal:
After the 24th Minute Evs (Betfair)