It will have been 44 days between Arsenal’s 2-0 win against Wolves and their Boxing Day clash with West Ham United. The Gunners were flying top of the Premier League with a young, dynamic attack and solid defense. They return from the break, mostly intact but missing their key player up top after Gabriel Jesus required knee surgery that will sideline him for two to three months.
Arsenal has a very favorable history against West Ham over the past 15 years. The Gunners won both matches in this series last season and only have one defeat in the last 14 times the two sides have played. Last year Gabriel Martinelli, Emile Smith Rowe, Rob Holding & Gabriel all scored against the Hammers. And while history and recent form both lean towards Arsenal heading into Boxing Day, between the long break and the nature of a London Derby anything is possible.
If you missed it, make sure to check out the Q&A with the opposition for this match.
- Fabio Vieira
- Mohamed Elneny
- Albert Sambi Lokonga
- Kieran Tierney
- Takehiro Tomiyasu
- Rob Holding
- Matt Turner
- Left Out: Gabriel Jesus (injury), Reiss Nelson (injury) & Emile Smith Rowe (injury)
- Regardless of what happens in the January transfer window, these next three or four matches are Eddie Nketiah’s time to shine. A new contract and a role as their number two forward, this is a huge opportunity for Nketiah. With Arsenal sitting top of the Premier League and Jesus on the sideline, there will be a lot of attention to not only the goals he can score but how involved he is in the overall attack.
- Injuries to three attackers leave the Arsenal front line a bit light. Smith Rowe should in theory return over the next two weeks, but Marquinhos will be called upon to fill in until a January signing arrives. While the remaining players are more than capable of scoring against West Ham, Brighton, Newcastle, and Oxford United, the backline and Aaron Ramsdale will play a huge role in the Gunners keeping the top spot heading into the January North London Derby.
- Zinchenko didn’t feature during the World Cup break friendlies, but based on Arteta’s comments he should be in contention to start on Monday. While he was mostly left out as a precaution, will he be fit enough to start? Or will Tierney get the nod and Zinchenko come on in the second half to build up his fitness?
- The World Cup Final was just a week ago, but given how little William Saliba was involved throughout the tournament he should be right back into the starting XI. Reunited with Gabriel and Ben White on his right, there is no reason to think the refreshed Arsenal defense can’t be back to its peak form.
How to watch
Monday (12/26) at 3:00 pm ET / 12:00 pm PT on Peacock Premium.
Arsenal - 2
West Ham - 1