EPL stands for English Premier League, but it will do more justice if it stood for Evenly Poised League. Such is this league every year. The table toppers have lost their lead and are down to just 3 points’ cushion, following the game against Liverpool last week which ended in a draw. Serious pressure on Arteta and co. now. Epic end enroute. The battle could go till the last day.
This matchday, West Ham will be hosting Arsenal in the London Stadium. London derby in the menu. David Moyes’ men are currently in the relegation battle. Only 3 points above the 18th position Nottingham Forest. Every match now onwards would be crucial in order to stay in the top flight. A match against fearless Arsenal would be a mountain climb. Moyes’ tactics have been questionable this season. With a set of good players like Rice, Paquetá, Scamacca etc, the team has underperformed this season.
Meanwhile, Arsenal could not afford to drop points this weekend. City has started to pick their late-season run of form. They surely will make it a hell for Arsenal to win the league. This Sunday, defeating a relegation battle team will sound simple, but the intensity of The Hammers is to be matched by the Gunners. With a good head-to-head record, Arsenal is set to go hard.
West Ham United’s PL form: W L W D L
Arsenal’s PL form: D W W W W
WHEN & WHERE?
Where: London Stadium, London.
When: Sunday, 15th April 2023.
Time: 6:30 PM IST / 1:00 PM GMT
Referee: David Coote.
Assistants: Lee Betts, Timothy Wood.
Fourth official: Stuart Attwell.
VAR: John Brooks.
Assistant VAR: Sian Massey-Ellis.
Good news for Moyes that Paquetá is back from injury and will be available for the fixture. The only one that the West Ham will be missing is Gianluca Scamacca.
For the Gunners, William Saliba is still out and recovering. Elneny and Tomiyasu are the long-term absentees. The better news is that Eddie Nketiah is available for the fixture after missing out for a long time. Alex Zinchenko has reportedly not trained since the Liverpool game, and Kieran Tierney is expected to take his place in the line-up.
Moyes has been infamous for his negative tactical setups, this season. The formations that he chooses have never been consistent. This might be due to unavailability of players but this also shows his pragmatism. Few patterns that could be noticed are : Bowen tends to maintain the width on the front right side of the pitch, Paquetá with a number 10 role and a double pivot of Souček and Rice. The team seems to attain a sort of mid-block while out of possession, viz. more than half of the time.
Arteta has been adoring the 4-3-3 shape this season, as it provides him with a box midfield. This has done wonders for him. Such a tactically sound manager, Arsenal has been blessed with! Jesus will most probably lead the lineup. White has been in good form lately. Everything is with Arteta, now all there is to win is the league.
The forever-an-arsenal-target is the one to look out for in this match on behalf on West Ham. Starting in all the 29 matches he has played this season, this shows how much of an important player he is for The Hammers. For the team, his task would be to intercept the line breaking passes which Arsenal players love to do. Him along with Paquetá is the most important link in the midfield, the destroyer, and the creator.
Jesus scored on the Easter and nothing gets more poetic than this. He will be asked to do the same in this fixture. After a long injury, he is back enjoying the ball and fans seem to enjoy it as well. The Brazilian forward has scored 8 goals and 5 assists in the 18 matches that he has played. The way he links with his Brazil NT teammate Martinelli, is mouth-watering. The switch of the places between those two is lethal. The unpredictably in his play makes him different from the rest of the players.
West Ham United predicted starting lineup: Fabiański; Ogbonna, Zouma, Kehrer; Emerson, Souček, Rice, Paquetá, Coufal; Antonio, Bowen.
Arsenal predicted starting lineup: Ramsdale; Tierney, Gabriel, Holding, White; Xhaka, Partey, Odegaard; Martinelli, Jesus, Saka.