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PREVIEW: Arsenal v West Ham, Injury Update, Likely XI + Prediction
It’s time to put the FA Cup to the back of our minds and concentrate on trying to overhaul Everton for that all-important fourth spot, starting with a tough clash with West Ham tonight.
Saturday’s shoot-out win over Wigan will have taken a lot out of the players but we’re going to have to find the energy from somewhere as the Hammers aren’t going to make it easy for us.
We didn’t play well at Wembley and it will take a much improved performance to beat Sam Allardyce’s men, who will be set up to frustrate and play for the draw as they did at Stamford Bridge back in January.
Our league form has been terrible in recent months with just 3 wins from our last 11 games, so it’s no surprise we find ourselves battling for fourth rather than the title, which is a huge shame considering how well placed we were back in February.
Everton are now two points ahead in fourth after their narrow 1-0 win over Sunderland at the weekend and with the Merseysiders facing Crystal Palace at Goodison tomorrow night, we have to pick up three points to put the pressure on.
We have the better fixtures on paper as they have to face both City and United, but both those games are at home and they also have the better goal difference, so it looks like it could go down to the wire once again with Champions League qualification hanging in the balance. We never make it easy for ourselves, do we?
Injury/team news update
Arsene Wenger confirmed on Monday that several players were facing late fitness tests. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lukas Podolski and Nacho Monreal all had tight muscles following Saturday while Aaron Ramsey was also feeling the effects of playing almost 120 minutes on his first start in over three months.
Laurent Koscielny and Tomas Rosicky were also doubts after missing the weekend game but all six players trained yesterday and journalist John Cross at the Mirror reported this afternoon that all will be available for selection this evening, which is great news.
Mesut Ozil and Abou Diaby are also training again, while Jack Wilshere took to the field to do some jogging this afternoon, but none will feature against West Ham. Ozil is likely to be back in the squad this weekend against Hull though.
Serge Gnabry, Ryo Miyaichi and Theo Walcott are all still injured.
As for West Ham, they have a doubt over Kevin Nolan but Joey O’Brien is back in training and could feature. George McCartney, James Collins and Marco Borriello are all still out injured.
Arsene is certain to make some changes from the weekend with Szczesny, Koscielny, Gibbs, Kallstrom, Rosicky and Giroud all likely to come in to the starting eleven.
It’s all about how well the players have recovered physically from the Wigan game. Hopefully we’ll see Rosicky and Kos start as they’ll be fresh, but we’ll need to see a lot more from the likes of Cazorla and Podolski in the attacking third if we’re going to break them down. I have a feeling tonight is going to be an extremely close game with us perhaps winning it with a second half goal.
Arsenal 1-0 West Ham COYG!!!
What team would you pick and what do you think the score will be?