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Preview: Arsenal v West Ham, duo return, rookie to start + prediction
Arsenal desperately need to get back to winning ways when we entertain West Ham at the Emirates tonight.
While it was encouraging to see the players fight back from behind to salvage a 2-2 draw with Manchester City on Sunday, the result did us little favours in our search for the top four.
Obviously we didn’t make up any ground on fourth-placed City while Liverpool and Spurs both registered wins so we’re now 7 points from fourth place and 11 adrift of Tottenham with a game in hand.
Therefore, it’s imperative we beat West Ham this evening not only to keep alive our hopes of playing Champions League football next season but also to restore some much-needed confidence in the players.
Thankfully the visitors are in even worse form than us as they haven’t won a league game in their last six attempts to see them slip to 15th in the table so hopefully we’ve got them at a good time.
We’re facing something of a goalkeeper crisis as Ospina is expected to miss tonight’s game after suffering a back injury during the draw with City on Sunday.
With Cech still nursing a calf problem Wenger has little option but to hand Martinez his first league start in nearly three years.
Koscielny has also been ruled out after picking up an Achilles injury at the weekend so Gabriel is set for a recall in defence while Lucas Perez remains out with a thigh problem.
Coquelin is a doubt but thankfully Ramsey and Oxlade-Chamberlain are back in contention after recovering from minor knocks which kept them out of the City clash.
As for West Ham, they welcome back the dangerous Michail Antonio while Diafra Sakho is also back in the squad but Aaron Cresswell, Winston Reid, Angelo Ogbonna and Pedro Obiang are missing.
We’ve not seen or had an update on Gibbs for a while but he’s not on the official injury list anymore so assuming he’s fit I’d like to see him start at left-back tonight.
I’d go with The Ox alongside Xhaka in midfield as we certainly missed some dynamism in the middle of the park at the weekend while I’d stick with the same front four that faced City.
Welbeck looked a little rusty, which is understandable given the amount of football he’s missed, but I’d still rather him up front with Giroud being used as an impact substitute.
This would be my line-up:
West Ham: Randolph, Byram, Collins, Fonte, Masuaku, Noble, Kouyate, Antonio, Lanzini, Snodgrass, Carroll.
It’s not easy to predict Arsenal games right now and this result is even more difficult to predict given the poor form of both teams. However, we saw glimpses on Sunday that Arsenal are finding their feet and if we could just cut out the stupid goals we seem to be conceding, then the rest will follow. If we keep Carroll quiet, then I fancy us to secure a much-needed 3-1 win. Arsenal 3-1 West Ham