Arsenal host West Ham United at the Emirates Stadium in match-week 17 as two London giants lock horns in their pursuit for top-four on Wednesday. Having won only two of their last five fixtures the Gunners will be keen on gaining consistency ahead of a demanding period of league football. On the other hand, West Ham will be hoping to remain resolute in the fourth spot, with many clubs only a point or two behind the Irons heading into a busy period.
With the race for top-four expected to grow increasingly challenging over the coming weeks, Mikel Arteta’s side will be keen on gaining positive results. Although the Gunners have witnessed a decline in performance in recent weeks, the North-London outfit will be hoping to capitalize on a relatively favourable run of ties over the Christmas period.
Amongst the surprise packages of the season, West Ham are yet to experience a hiccup in the ongoing campaign. Exemplary performances and consistent displays have seen David Moyes’ side establish themselves as eye-catching contenders for top-four, and they will be hoping to maintain their impressive performance over the relentless period of fixtures. Awaiting a favorable string of fixtures following their tie against Arsenal, the Irons will be keen on getting the better of the London rivals on Wednesday.
WHEN & WHERE?
Venue: Emirates Stadium.
Date: Wednesday, 15th of December 2021.
Time: Kick-off at 20:00 BST.
Referee: Anthony Taylor.
Assistants: Gary Beswick, Adam Nunn.
Fourth official: Peter Bankes.
VAR: Chris Kavanagh.
Assistant VAR: Sian Massey-Ellis.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is expected to return to the match-day squad after the Gabonese striker served a disciplinary breach last weekend. Bernd Leno and Sead Kolasinac remain the only players sidelined due to injuries, with Emile Smith-Rowe expected to make a comeback against West Ham on Wednesday.
Mikel Arteta is expected to field a similar line-up that saw the Gunners secure a comprehensive victory against Southampton last weekend. Smith-Rowe remains the likeliest of players to be slotted in against West Ham while doubts persist over Aubameyang’s involvement following Alexander Lacazette’s impressive display against the Saints.
West Ham United
David Moyes will be without the services of Kurt Zouma, Angelo Ogbonna, Ben Johnson, and Ryan Fredricks, although Aaron Cresswell could make a return against the Gunners on Wednesday. Given the team’s consistency this season, Moyes is unlikely to make major changes heading into a pivotal period of fixtures.
Michail Antonio is expected to lead the line, while Pablo Fornals could replace Manuel Lanzini with Said Benrahma, too, potentially returning to the starting line-up on Wednesday.
Given their struggle to find consistency ahead of a pivotal period of fixtures, both teams will be keen on settling for no less than three points on Wednesday. The home side will be hoping to build upon their impressive performance against Southampton while the visitors will be keen on upsetting their London rivals on home turf.
Although the Irons have been impressive throughout the campaign, Moyes’ side have struggled to keep clean sheets. Considering Arsenal’s dynamic build-up play combined with their dependable defensive line, the home side will be hoping to hurt the visitors through quick turnovers in possession whilst seeking to dominate the midfield for most of the ninety. Given their balance across the attacking third, the Gunners will look to retain possession and play through the lines on Wednesday.
While the Irons have struggled to penetrate solid defences this season, the trip to the Emirates serves as a golden opportunity for Moyes’ side to clinch only their second win in their last five league fixtures. Given Arsenal’s unpredictability in defence, West Ham will look to remain proactive in possession whilst seeking advantage of the space left behind the Gunners’ attacking full-backs on Wednesday. Set-pieces could potentially play a vital role in presenting golden opportunities closer to the goal while Antonio and Jarrod Bowen’s pace will be relied upon if the visitors are to take the spoils of victory at the Emirates tomorrow evening.
Arsenal – Martin Odegaard
Having scored in each of Arsenal’s last three league fixtures, Odegaard is expected to remain the home side’s most potent threat up-front. The Norwegian midfielder’s creative vision combined with his eye for goal will be a vital factor in determining Arsenal’s attacking prowess throughout the ninety minutes. Additionally, given his remarkable goal-scoring form, Odegaard is expected to be deployed as the home side’s foremost creative player on Wednesday.
Provided the Gunners are to succeed in breaking down a resolute West Ham backline, Odegaard’s movement and creativity will be vital to the home side in creating numerous goal-scoring opportunities. Given his threat in possession, the visitors will look to isolate the midfielder on Wednesday.
West Ham – Michail Antonio
West Ham’s most prominent threat up-front, Antonio’s clinical finishing combined with his physical attributes will be vital to the visitors’ goal-scoring chances on Wednesday. The Jamaican international will look to torment Arsenal’s defensive line with his pace and will look to lose his marker – finding himself on the end of opportunities – running into the 18-yard-box against Arsenal.
Amongst the likeliest of players to hurt the Gunners at the Emirates, Antonio will be hoping to regain consistency and look to register his name on the score-sheet heading into a testing string of fixtures over the Christmas period.
Arsenal (4-2-3-1) – Aaron Ramsdale; Takehiro Tomiyasu, Ben White, Gabriel Magalhaes, Kieran Tierney; Thomas Partey, Granit Xhaka; Emile Smith-Rowe, Martin Odegaard, Bukayo Saka; Alexandre Lacazette.
West Ham (4-2-3-1) – Luksasz Fabianski; Vladimir Coufal, Craig Dawson, Issa Drip, Arthur Masuaku; Tomas Soucek, Declan Rice; Jarrod Bowen, Pablo Fornals, Said Benrahma; Michail Antonio.