What a difference a week makes. Arsenal went from losing control of 4th place and facing a difficult schedule to back in the lead position with a match coming up against a side still stretched by European football. 538 now has the Gunners’ odds of ending the season in 4th place at 67% and clear favorites to win four of their five remaining matches. In Mikel Arteta’s comments on Friday it sounds as though both Bukayo Saka and Takehiro Tomiyasu will be available this weekend, while Thomas Partey’s return won’t be this season.
On Thursday evening West Ham lost 2-1 in the opening leg of the Europa League semi-final at home against Eintracht Frankfurtwest. So while, the Hammers didn’t have to travel this week, they will be primarily focused now on overturning that advantage next week in Germany. Meanwhile, Arsenal have enjoyed great success against West Ham in recent years. Dating back to the start of the 2007-08 season the Gunners have a 23W-5D-2L record, which is quite remarkable.
If you missed it make sure to check out this week’s Q&A with the West Ham Way USA podcast.
- Alexandre Lacazette
- Gabriel Martinelli
- Rob Holding
- Albert Sambi Lokonga
- Bernd Leno
- Miguel Azeez
- Omari Hutchinson
- Left Out: Kieran Tierney (injury) & Thomas Partey (injury)
- Finally having made his return as a second half sub against Manchester United and now with another week of training, this should be the first start for Tomiyasu since January 1st against Manchester City. With both Tierney and Partey ruled out for the rest of the season, Tomiyasu’s return marks what is Arsenal’s best possible backline as we head into the final run.
- Bukayo Saka looked doubtful to start earlier in the week, but thankful Arsenal finally had a full week off. Considering Arteta’s comments on Saka taking any penalities this weekend, he should be starting on the right as the attack remains unchanged following crucial wins over Chelsea and Manchester United.
- Which leads us to Emile Smith Rowe. While Martinelli hasn’t done anything to warrant being left out, you don’t want to change this combination in attack unless you have to. Just like how Smith Rowe was stuck as a 2nd half change for several matches, Martinelli simply has to make his impact in a shorter window of time now. Arsenal had only scored two goals in five league matches before now having netted seven over the last two games.
How to watch
Sunday (5/1) at 11:30 am ET / 8:30 am PT on USA Network.
Arsenal - 3
West Ham - 1
I fully expect West Ham to heavily rotate in order to focus on the second leg of the Europa League semifinals. Arsenal clearly need this league result far more than West Ham do, but given that the Gunners have let in nine goals in their last five matches I’m not confident in a clean sheet just yet. Fingers crossed that I’m wrong and Arsenal have their first ‘easy’ win in quite a while.