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Arsenal vs. West Ham: Match Preview

A short trip to East London is Arsenal's Sunday plan.

What are you smiling at, dumbass?
What are you smiling at, dumbass?
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Arsenal vs. West Ham United
English Premier League
Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014
Upton Park, London
Form: ARS just learning to ride a bike, ridden about a block | WHU Riding alone, but the wheels are wobbly at the moment
US TV: Premier League Extra Time/DirecTV ch 492 | Worldwide TV info

After a somewhat unconvincing win on Boxing St. Stephen's Day, which is a strangely violent holiday for a Catholic saint, Arsenal trek over to East London to take on the team directly above them in the table, fifth-placed West Ham United. After yesterday's results all left the table status quo, Arsenal can leapfrog the Hammers into at least fifth, and potentially as high as fourth (assuming Chelsea beat Southampton).

They'll have to do it, of course, without Olivier Giroud, whose mercilessly savage headbutt of Nedum Anoha, who is lucky to be alive after feeling the full brunt of someone's head splitting his skull at maximum velocity. Oh wait, no, that's just how Anoha went down, like he'd been shot in the face. Giroud was dumb, deserved to be sent off, and shouldn't have made contact in the first place, but damn, Anoha made a meal out of that. Anyway, the result is that Giroud will take a three game vacation during the busiest period of the Premier League calendar, which is not optimal.

Fortunately, Arsenal incurred no other injuries in yesterday's match; they'll go into tomorrow with the usual spate of missing players, with a chance that Laurent Koscielny may be back from his calf-ouch.  It remains to be seen if the likes of Alexis Sanchez will be rested; there are several players that could definitely use a rest, but Arsenal are trying to get somewhere with a skeleton crew, so they may not have that luxury just yet.

West Ham are pretty healthy; Jenkinson won't play as a condition of his loan, but Andy Carroll's in the team, and Alex Song should start after being rested against Chelsea on Boxing Day, which was West Ham's first loss in six games.

West Ham are one of the surprise packages of this season, and Arsenal are going to have to play better than they did on Friday to earn three points.