After all these years, I cannot remember one time that Arsenal vs. West Ham featured a match between two clubs at the bottom of the table. Tomorrow morning, Arsenal and West Ham will do just that.
Admittedly, it is hard to judge just two games into the current 2018/19 season, but Arsenal (17th) and West Ham (19th) will look to bounce back into relevancy this weekend in the Premier League. Both teams have had a horrendous start to the season under their new managers.
Emery’s two losses to start his career at the Emirates beg questions about changes to the starting lineup. While those losses were against the two most recent Premier League champions, putting the results in the past will be important as Arsenal now have a stretch of games in the Premier League that looks much less rigorous.
In last April’s 4-1 win against West Ham, the Alexandre Lacazette - Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang combination tore the Hammers apart late in the game. Auba pulled the strings and created the chances (including an assist), while Lacazette slotted home two in the final 5 minutes. In my opinion, this was the game that the two finally cemented the fact they could play in the same team. However, this year will be different. Emery told the media this week that at the current moment, that the two would not feature together just yet.
“At the moment, no. At the moment, I think we need to have the control with the possession, with the positioning on the pitch, with more players inside.”
You may remember Aaron Ramsey having a goal and an assist in last year’s match against West Ham as well. However, the Welshman has struggled to find a spot in the XI under his new coach. An uncharacteristic 67% passing completion in 76 minutes of play has led to questions about his inclusion tomorrow. Ramsey was dropped for Iwobi against Chelsea last weekend.
Arsenal still have yet to include some of their new signings in the starting lineup. Lucas Torreira was supposed to be the missing key to the Arsenal midfield, but fatigue from the World Cup has seen a delay to being a regular in the Arsenal lineup. I expect Lucas to start this weekend.
Additionally, Bernd Leno has yet to debut as an Arsenal Player in the Premier League. Early reports this season seem to state that Cech is the starter at the current time. My guess is that we will not see the German keeper just yet.
Earlier this week we posted a detailed article about Arsenal’s approach to this game, check it out here.
Arsenal may have their luck going for them this weekend, as they have not lost against West Ham in 6 matches, dating back to the opening weekend in August 2015. In those games Arsenal have put 16 past West Ham, while only conceding 5 goals in total. Highlights from the 4-1 win last season (US only):
As for West Ham, the start to the season was even worse than Arsenal’s. West Ham endured a romping at Anfield and a home loss to Bournemouth in their first two games, leaving the Hammers at -5 in goal differential and currently in the relegation zone. A lone penalty from Marko Arnautovic is their only goal this season, leading to concerns about what they are doing on both sides of the ball.
An active summer from West Ham should have subsided these issues. Manager David Moyes’ exit saw Manuel Pellegrini’s return to the Premier League to take over at West Ham. Pellegrini leads the London side after finishing two years with club Hebei China Forutne. Pellegrini led Manchester City to the Premier League title in 2013/14 and two Football League Cup wins during his time at the Etihad.
Pellegrini did not hesitate in being active in the transfer market. Felipe Anderson (Lazio), Andriy Yarmolenko (Dortmund), and Issa Diop (Toulouse) headlined the big names moving to the London Stadium. The three players alone total £74.4 million in transfer fees, in one of West Ham’s most expensive summer’s ever. Look for all three of those players to start this weekend, with Diop and Yarmolenko not yet being included in a starting XI for West Ham.
And of course, former Arsenal players will be returning to the Emirates this weekend as well. Former midfielder Jack Wilshere moved on a free transfer while former forward Lucas Perez was signed for £4 million. Jack and Lucas will return for the first time in a different jersey.
Arsenal: Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Sokratis, Monreal; Guendouzi, Torreira; Iwobi, Ozil, Mkhitaryan; Aubameyang.
West Ham: Fabianski; Zabaleta, Ogbonna, Diop, Masuaku; Anderson, Wilshere, Noble, Yarmolenko; Hernandez, Arnautovic
WHAT: West Ham United at Arsenal
WHERE: Emirates Stadium, London
WHEN: Saturday, August 25th, 3:00 PM BST | 10:00 AM EST | 7:00 AM PT
US TV: NBCSN
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