Arsenal welcome West Ham to the Emirates on Saturday hoping to consolidate their Champions League place.
So what do they need to know to make sure they don’t Arsenal it up?
|West Ham United|
|Home Ground||Upton Park (35,016)|
|Record Signing||Andy Carroll (£15m in 2013)|
|Ex Gunners||Alex Song, (Carl Jenkinson – sort of!)|
|Top Scorer||Diafra Sakho (11)|
|Top Assister||Stewart Downing (8)|
|Most Yellow Cards||Winston Reid (8)|
|Star Player||Aaron Cresswell|
|Biggest Liability||Guy Demel|
STYLE OF PLAY
For all Sam Allardyce’s mocking of Manchester United and Louis Van Gaal, it remains a case at least in part of the pot calling the kettle black.
West Ham are still to all intents and purposes a long ball team, as long as Andy Carroll is fit.
When he is not fit (almost all the time then!) they still play long ball, it’s just that this is done with the intention of being hit over the top for the pacier players to attack rather than hitting the big man up front to hold the ball up.
Sakho has been a great signing in giving West Ham a bit more quality up front – Carlton Cole is similar in style to Andy Carroll but his profligacy in front of goal makes him a poor alternative, and the Senegalese forward has been a breath of fresh air at Upton Park. Against Tottenham he was a constant threat whenever the service matched his endeavour.
West Ham place a strong reliance on wing play, even in the absence of Carroll, with Valencia and Downing both happy to stay wide, but also to cut infield on occasion and allow the marauding full backs to provide that width where desired.
Aaron Cresswell has been a revelation at left back – it would be a surprise if he didn’t end up at a club further up the table in the not too distant future – and Carl Jenkinson has found his feet with a regular run in the team and an opportunity to showcase his attacking skills.
Of course, Jenkinson (ineligible) and potentially Valencia (weird teacup related incident) will be missing on Saturday, which leaves West Ham with a rather lop-sided team.
Demel will almost certainly come in, as well as one of Nolan, Amalfitano or Jarvis, and it will not only mean the main attacking thrust will be likely to come down the Hammers’ left wing, but also that Arsenal’s own left wing will have a less familiar and more vulnerable pairing to attack.
Certainly the thought of Alexis bearing down on Demel must be a little scary for West Ham fans!
In the centre of defence, Winston Reid has finally stopped stalling on a contract after realising Arsenal are not in for him, but only after trying so hard to fit in that he injured himself. He had built up a good understanding with Tomkins, so with Collins likely to come in it could be an opportunity to test a less familiar pairing in the centre of defence too.
Finally, Alex Song and Cheikhou Kouyate have formed a solid partnership in midfield, but the former Gunner had a bit of a mare in the reverse fixture over Christmas.
On that occasion, he tried to do a bit of everything, and ended up being a bit of a liability to his loan side. If he does so again then West Ham have little chance in this game – his solidity in front of the back four has been a key component of their excellent first half of the season and they can’t afford for him to go missing again.
SEASON SO FAR
West Ham have had a mixed bag of a season – in August Sam Allardyce’s job looked very unstable with rumours abound that he had ten games to demonstrate why he should remain manager before getting sacked. West Ham’s early season form hardly helped his cause, losing three of their first four games, including a penalty exit from the Capital One Cup to Sheffield United.
Further losses followed to Southampton and Man United as well as a poor draw against Hull, but a win over Liverpool bought the manager a bit of time. He repaid the faith by winning every game in October, including against Manchester City, and continued that good form by winning all the games they would expect to win and running Everton, Chelsea and Arsenal close.
At Christmas, West Ham found themselves in the Champions League places, and how their fans crowed! However, reality was to bite hard, as the losses to Chelsea and Arsenal spelled the start of period where they wouldn’t win until towards the end of January, recording a series of draws and sinking down the table. This was even in spite of faking an injury to Sakho to prevent him going off to the African Cup of Nations – a ploy that was rather exposed by him then playing for West Ham just days later!
Three further draws in February saw them drop further to their current position of tenth, and a woeful performance in the FA Cup saw a 4-0 defeat to West Brom. The prophesied tough run of fixtures came home to roost.
So they arrive at the Emirates this weekend on the back of a terrible run of form, and a set of fixtures which include all of the bottom five clubs in the next seven games.
This is a game where they will expect to get nothing, and therefore have nothing to lose.
Let’s hope they come with half an eye on their next few games and don’t run us too hard.
Arsenal’s last 5 results against West Ham United: WWWWW
|League||28/12/2014||(A)||W 2-1||Arsenal: Cazorla (41 pen), Welbeck (44)West Ham: Kouyate (54)|
|League||15/04/2014||(H)||W 3-1||Arsenal: Podolski (44, 78), Giroud (55)West Ham: Jarvis (40)|
|League||26/12/2013||(A)||W 3-1||Arsenal: Walcott (68, 71), Podolski (79)West Ham: Cole (46)|
|League||23/01/2013||(H)||W 5-1||Arsenal: Podolski (22), Giroud (47, 57), Cazorla (53), Walcott (54)West Ham: Collison (18)|
|League||06/10/2012||(A)||W 3-1||Arsenal: Giroud (41), Walcott (77), Cazorla (83)West Ham: Diamé (21)|
Record for Arsenal v West Ham United:
Overall record between the two clubs:
Head to Head
West Ham United’s last 5 results: DLDLL
|League||Crystal Palace||(H)||L 1-3||Valencia|
|League||Tottenham||(A)||D 2-2||Kouyate, Sakho|
|FA Cup||West Brom||(A)||L 0-4||–|