The FourFourTwo Preview: Arsenal vs West Ham
Le Professor v Sam Allardici.
- Man Utd 1-2 Arsenal (FAC)
- QPR 1-2 Arsenal (Prem)
- Arsenal 2-0 Everton (Prem)
- Arsenal 1-3 Monaco (CL)
- Palace 1-2 Arsenal (Prem)
WEST HAM FORM
- West Ham 0-1 Chelsea (Prem)
- West Ham 1-3 Palace (Prem)
- Spurs 2-2 West Ham (Prem)
- WBA 4-0 West Ham (FAC)
- So’ton 0-0 West Ham (Prem)
If you walk past a bookies before 3pm on Saturday and happen to have a few quid spare, whack it on an Arsenal win. The Gunners have won 12 of their last 14 games against the Hammers.
The other two contests ended in a draw. Take it from us, this is a sure bet (but don’t come crying to us when Arsenal let you down – that’s football. But we do expect a share of the winnings).
You have to go back to the 2006/07 season to find West Ham’s last win over Arsenal. The Hammers did the double over the north Londoners that term as they survived relegation by the skin of Carlos Tevez’s third-party agreement. Momentum is now with Arsenal after their FA Cup quarter-final win over Manchester United at Old Trafford. The Gunners' league form isn’t too shabby either. Only Liverpool are in better form.
After losing to Southampton on New Year’s Day, Arsenal have won seven, punctuated by a 2-1 loss to Tottenham. The Gunners last dropped points at home in the Premier League in November, when Man United claimed a 2-1 victory at the Emirates. Everything points in the direction of a home win, but Sam Allardyce will remind his players that Arsenal have a big game next week. On Tuesday the north Londoners travel to Monaco to try and overturn a 3-1 deficit in the Champions League round of 16.
Will Arsene Wenger rotate and disrupt the balance of the side? Will some of the players hold back with the trip to the Principality in mind?
If West Ham are to capitalise on Arsenal’s distracted ranks, they’re going to have to raise their game considerably. The Hammers are without a win in six Premier League outings, losing three and drawing three. Their last win on the road came in December, when they beat West Bromwich Albion 2-1.
Putting stats and form to one side, if there’s one man who knows how to a plot a win over Arsenal, it’s Allardyce. During his time as Bolton manager (1999-2007) he found a formula to get under the skin of north London’s pass-masters: rough ‘em up and knock it long.
With more talented personnel and tactical flexibility at his disposal, Allardyce has West Ham playing with pragmatism and style – doing whatever the game demands. History tells us the Hammers will sit back and try to punish Arsenal’s fragile rearguard at set-pieces and on the counter-attack. The Gunners' new defensive steel and patient approach will be tested.
Arsenal’s long-term absentee Jack Wilshere is yet to return to training, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain picked up a hamstring strain during the Gunners' win at Old Trafford. Mathieu Flamini has been training with the team and could be available for selection. Gabriel Paulista will be back in action next week.
Allardyce will be without the services of Winston Reid and Carlton Cole who are recovering from hamstring injuries. On-loan Carl Jenkinson is not allowed to play against his parent club and Alex Song is a doubt with a knee problem. Andy Carroll is still recovering from surgery on a medial knee ligament injury.
Player to watch: Francis Coquelin (Arsenal)
Allardyce knows Arsenal don’t like it up ‘em. Roughhouse tactics have served him well in the past. But this is an Arsenal side that can mix it, with Coquelin leading the charge. Coquelin & Co. are by no means a physical side; they’re still missing an imposing presence and the defensive nous of a title-winning side. The Frenchman, however, has added a bit more bite to the Gunners' engine room. Think Gattuso, not Vieira.
During Arsenal’s 2-0 home win over Everton he was busy. The academy graduate made 6 ball recoveries, 5 tackles, 8 clearances and won 3 defensive aerial duels. He was at it again at Loftus Road, helping protect the back four with 10 ball recoveries, 6 tackles and 8 clearances. Coquelin’s work might not make for a thrilling YouTube video, but it’s the work Arsenal need doing most.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- W Ham 1-2 Arsenal (PL, Dec 14)
- Arsenal 3-1 W Ham (PL, Apr 14)
- W Ham 1-3 Arsenal (PL, Dec 13)
- Arsenal 5-1 W Ham (PL, Jan 13)
- W Ham 1-3 Arsenal (PL, Oct 12)
Wenger hopes Monday night’s FA Cup win will act as a turning point in Arsenal’s season – giving them the impetus to chase down second-placed Manchester City and win some silverware. “On the day we have shown that we are mentally on the level that was requested because it was a very physical game, a very committed game where we needed to deal with a very dedicated Manchester United team,” said the Gunners' boss. "Every win makes you stronger and you could see the fact that we have won at Man City certainly helped us to deal with the other part of the game."
After taking his team to Dubai for a short break, Allardyce believes his troops are feeling refreshed and ready to rediscover their early-season form. “A little bit of rest, both mentally and physically, will help us to win more games in the last 10 games of the season,” he said. “I watched Arsenal’s game away at Manchester United and everyone could see the quality they have.
"We know how difficult it is at the Emirates, where we’ve actually gone in front a few times but not managed to hold on. We’ll go there and give it our best shot and see what happens. We’ll try and do what we did against Chelsea [lost 1-0 at Upton Park] and see if that’s good enough to get us a result.”
Facts and figures
- Olivier Giroud has scored 4 goals in his 4 Premier League appearances against West Ham.
- Theo Walcott has scored 5 goals and set up 3 more in his last 4 league games against West Ham.
- Allardyce has never coached a winning team at Arsenal in the Premier League, losing 7, drawing 3.
More FFT Stats Zone facts
With Jenkinson and Reid missing, West Ham will struggle to cope with Arsenal’s firepower. 2-0.