Arsenal look to regain top spot with win over West Ham

By on December 27, 2023


Arsenal can leapfrog Liverpool back to the top of the Premier League table with a win over West Ham at the Emirates Stadium on Thursday night.

We sat top of the tree for the second consecutive Christmas after coming away with a well earned point from Anfield last time out. Gabriel Magalhaes gave Arsenal an early lead with a lovely header but Liverpool equalised through a superb Mohamed Salah strike. We could have made more of some good opportunities to score a second while Liverpool hit the bar from a 5v1 break away but both sides had to settle for a point at Anfield.

The Merseysiders then went two points clear at the top after beating Burnley at Turf Moor on Boxing Day. Goals from Darwin Nunez and Diogo Jota did the damage for Liverpool as they eased to a routine win over Vincent Kompany’s men. Arsenal now need to respond with a win of their own to regain top spot by beating West Ham in North London tomorrow evening.

The draw against Liverpool means we’ve won just one of our last three league games, and four in all competitions, so the results haven’t been up to scratch lately. However, the performances have been very good overall. We certainly deserved a lot more from the defeat to Aston Villa as we played well at Villa Park. A weakened team did well to dominate PSV Eindhoven away from home and a draw was the least we deserved from that game.

Arsenal then sealed a routine win over Brighton in what was arguably our best performance of the season before the impressive draw against Liverpool. We all know Anfield is an extremely tough place to go but the players handled it well and we finished the game as the better side. So while we may not have picked up enough wins lately, we’ve certainly put in some terrific displays. If we play well against West Ham, we should be too strong for the Hammers.

However, we shouldn’t underestimate them as West Ham have the potential to cause us plenty of problems. They beat Tottenham away a few weeks ago and downed Manchester United 2-0 last week, so those with West Ham tickets will be eyeing an upset at the Emirates. The Irons are seventh in the table, so Arsenal will need to be at their best to get all three points from this game.

Team news

Thankfully, we didn’t pick up any more injuries during the draw at Liverpool but we’ll still be without at least five players for the game against West Ham.

Recent rumours have suggested that Thomas Partey is back in training and close to a return. However, Mikel Arteta insists the Ghanaian international is yet to resume full training and is not on the verge of returning to first team action so he still won’t be available for selection until after the New Year.

Takehiro Tomiyasu is in a similar boat to Partey. The defender is reportedly closing in on his return from a calf problem but he won’t be fit to face West Ham and isn’t expected to be back in contention for the trip to Fulham on New Year’s Eve either.

Jurrien Timber is still working his way back from an ACL injury that he sustained against Nottingham Forest on the opening weekend of the season while Fabio Vieira is out for the foreseeable future following groin surgery.

Arsenal will also be without Kai Havertz against West Ham as the German international will serve a one match suspension after picking up his fifth booking of the season against Liverpool.

West Ham have virtually a fully fit squad to choose from. Michail Antonio is their only significant injury absentee with the striker nursing a knee injury. Nayef Aguerd and Maxwell Cornet are expected to return to the squad after missing the win over United due to illness.


It’s a busy time of year so Arteta will be thinking about rotation but I’m not sure we should change things too much. Obviously we’ll need to make a change in midfield with Havertz out and it’s likely Jorginho will come into the side.

However, I’d be tempted to start Leandro Trossard in the no.8 role. He played there a few weeks ago and he could be useful at unlocking the West Ham defence. There is a worry it would be too attacking with Trossard playing alongside Declan Rice and Martin Odegaard, but I think we could get away with it at home.

If Arteta doesn’t go with Trossard in the middle, he might bring in him for Gabriel Martinelli on the left wing. Martinelli was a little frustrating against Liverpool as although he was a big threat, he held on to the ball for too long as times and his final pass was poor. He really needs to improve in those situations if he’s to take his game to a new level.

William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes were outstanding against Liverpool and have cemented themselves as one of the best centre-backs pairings in the world. Oleksandr Zinchenko was poor away to Liverpool and he’s certainly being targeted by oppositions. Arteta could be tempted to start Jacob Kiwior and his height would certainly be useful against West Ham. If it was away I’d consider the change, but we’d lose a lot going forward so I’d stick with Zinchenko at home.

Declan Rice put in another superb showing against Liverpool so hopefully his form continues against his old club tomorrow. Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Jesus should also keep their places and fingers crossed we see them on top form.

This is the team I’d like to see:

Raya, White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko; Rice, Odegaard, Trossard; Saka, Jesus, Martinelli

Predicted score

It’s never easy to predict scores around this time of year as we can see plenty of shocks. However, I’m confident Arsenal will get the job done at home to West Ham. We’ve been playing very well lately and if we continue in the same vein tomorrow, we should be far too strong.

The Hammers will always pose a threat so we’ll need Saliba and Gabriel to keep things tight at the back and protect David Raya. But as long as the likes of Saka, Jesus, Odegaard and Martinelli/Trossard are on form going forward, we’ll be able to create enough chances to secure the win.

I’m backing Arsenal to produce a professional display and beat West Ham 2-0 to leapfrog Liverpool back to the top of the table. Arsenal 2-0 West Ham