With the dust finally settled following Arsenal’s dramatic draw at Liverpool on Sunday, it’s time for Arsenal to regroup and refocus on their title hunt. Despite the feelings of despair and regret that followed in the match’s immediacy, all is not lost. Arsenal still find themselves atop the Premier League table with a chance at furthering their lead over title holders Manchester City, but the draw closes the gap just enough to feel the heat.
The easiest salve after an emotionally draining affair is a comprehensive win, which is what the Gunners will be in search of as they take a short trip across London to take on West Ham on Sunday morning.
West Ham have been one of the most disappointing sides this Premier League campaign. After finishing 6th and 7th in successive seasons, the Hammers’ form has fallen off a cliff, finding themselves in 14th place after 29 matches played. Their 30 points, though, is a mere three points above the drop, and a full 18 points worse than they were at the same stage last season. When you consider the ruthlessness of the coaching carousel this season, it is an honest to God miracle that David Moyes is still employed.
Their only saving grace this season has been their Europa Conference League campaign, in which they find themselves in the Quarterfinals. Winning the ECL gives them an automatic spot in the Europa League next season, which would be a massive consolation prize considering the dire direction of their domestic form.
The ECL is a bit of a double-edged sword for the London outfit. After drawing with Gent in the first leg of the Quarterfinals on Thursday, they need a win at home in the second leg next week to ensure a semifinal berth. But the razor-thin margin for error in the relegation battle means that there aren’t really any domestic matches that can be seen as surplus to demands yet. Could they phone it in against Arsenal between ECL legs? Surely. Will they? I highly doubt it. Even with a much more winnable match against Bournemouth the following weekend for the Hammers, Arsenal shouldn’t expect them to look ahead and lay an egg, either.
Regardless of what West Ham will and won’t potentially do, this is a prime opportunity for the Gunners to bounce back from Sunday’s match with a statement of intent. Arsenal went to one of the league’s most difficult stadiums to win in, and escaped with a point and a healthy roster, despite the rugby match that the ref was also officiating.
The return of Gabriel Jesus has seen him back on the scoresheet with three goals in the last two matches. His tenacity at Anfield was a reminder of the traits that helped establish Arsenal’s dominance early on. Now that he has regained his form, another strong performance will be a boon for the side. It would also be nice to see Bukayo Saka, who had a relatively quiet match last weekend, rebound with a strong return of his own.
For more discussions about lineups and score predictions, check out Nathan’s article.
The notion that the slip up at Anfield was a death knell to Arsenal’s title aspirations is hyperbolic and not in line with the full scope of what the Gunners have accomplished so far this season. The Premier League is a marathon, and for about 90% of that marathon, the Gunners have been flawless. Going to Anfield and leaving with a point is more than City can say, and taking 4 of a possible 6 from Liverpool is something that would have been unthinkable as early as last season.
These Gunners are different gravy. Time for them to remind the rest of the league why they have been the leaders for almost the entire season.
8 cup finals left to play. 7 wins secures the title. A win on Sunday makes the magic number 6. Let’s get after it.
WHAT: Arsenal at West Ham
WHEN: Sunday, April 16th, 9:00am EST/6:00am PST/2:00pm BST
WHERE: London Stadium
HOW TO WATCH: Broadcast live on the USA Network. Streaming online at NBCSports.com
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