Who would have thought even six months ago that facing West Ham in a Premier League game might be a daunting prospect?
David Moyes has done an indisputably good job of turning London’s perpetual also-rans into a serious team that merits its current position in the top five.
The Irons lost their first two games of the season (to Newcastle and, somewhat unluckily, to us) but since then have only been beaten by Liverpool, Chelsea and the two Manchester clubs. Not bad, eh?
They have been doing the business against the mid- and lower-table clubs. Sadly, that group includes us at the moment, given that we currently lie 10th in the table, seven points behind today’s opponents.
I feel that the current Arsenal team has the tools with which to hurt the Hammers and burst their bubble.
Odegaard is starting to look like an excellent prospect, Saka causes problems for anyone, Tierney is a menace down our left flank and we have begun adding goals from midfield.
The crucial thing (and I am afraid this is becoming a familiar refrain) is that we do not shoot ourselves in the foot. We managed to avoid the worst sort of self-harming errors in the last two games (against Olimpiacos and Totteringham). Can we keep that level of focus for a third game? Can we get a rare clean sheet?
Team news is positive, with Bukayo Saka recovered from his muscle strain and available to play. Mikel Arteta might be tempted to keep him on the bench but I suspect he would rather start him and hope to take him off before the end.
Another injury boost was the news that Willian is still a doubt for today. Everyone else should be fit if selected.
Here’s the team I fancy will start:
Cedric – Luiz – Gabriel – Tierney
Xhaka – Partey
Saka – Odegaard – Aubameyang
I hope I am wrong and that Smith Rowe gets to start (perhaps with Auba as central striker and Laca on the bench), but I could see El Patron keeping him in reserve, partly to manage his minutes and avoid potential injury.
It should be a close, competitive game. Let’s hope we can come out on top.
Come On You Gunners.