And so begins the end. If you hadn’t heard, Arsene Wenger announced that he will step down as Arsenal manager at the end of this season. Sunday’s match at the Emirates against West Ham United is one of the boss’ last seven matches in charge of the Arsenal (eight if they make the Europa final). It is also his third to last home match in charge. Hopefully the Arsenal supporters who have been staying away from the Emirates come out in full voice to send Arsene off as he deserves.
Arsenal are coming off a 2-1 loss last weekend to Newcastle where a heavily rotated lineup fell flat. You should expect to see several substitutes / reserves feature tomorrow with the all-important first leg of the Europa League semifinal against Atlético Madrid on Thursday. Youngster Joe Willock is projected to start again, and there is an outside shot that Eddie Nketiah, who scored two goals as the Arsenal U-23’s wrapped up a Premier League 2 title, gets a run out.
Jack Wilshere’s availability is in question - he’s dealing with a small ankle injury. Wenger said that Aaron Ramsey is available for selection, but with that nasty cut on his leg still healing, I’d be surprised if he played. Henrikh Mkhitaryan is running in training but will not be available until Thursday at the earliest. David Ospina has recovered from injury and is available for selection.
West Ham have a number of players on the shelf - Pedro Obiang, Winston Reid, Michail Antonio, and Sam Byram are all out, James Collins is doubtful. The Hammers are six points clear of the drop but have only won one of their last six. Nine points guarantees them safety but they likely only need four or five points from their last four matches to stay up.
Arsenal and West Ham have met twice this season. The sides drew 0-0 in the Premier League in a match in which Arsenal dominated but couldn’t score. The Gunners downed the Hammers 1-0 in the League Cup Quarterfinal behind a Danny Welbeck goal.
Tomorrow’s match, and the rest of the season, will be overshadowed by the Arsene Wenger farewell tour. Whatever you think of his more recent years with the club, the man is a legend and should be sent off in style. Hopefully the side does their part on the field and sends him off with some wins.
WHAT: Arsenal vs. West Ham United
WHERE: Emirates Stadium, London
WHEN: Sunday, April 22nd, 2018 5:30 AM PT | 8:30 AM ET | 1:30 PM BT
US TV: NBCSN. Stream here.
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