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Theo Walcott's pace could prove to be the difference for Arsenal against West Ham

Match Preview – Arsenal vs West Ham United – Premier League – 14.03.15. West Ham visit the Emirates battling injury troubles as they take on a resurgent Arsenal.

welbeck scores arsenal winner against manchester united
Danny Welbeck’s tireless running epitomises Arsenal’s graft and hustle this season

For a long time now Arsenal have threatened to be a real threat to their richer league rivals but time and again fell short. With Arsenal it was never one big thing, it was lots of little things; lapses in concentration, missed chances, inexperience and a lack of grit, in various games across the season that cost them most dearly.

To a degree Arsenal have dealt with all of those issues, purchasing experienced players, working on their finishing and combinations, developing tactically, learning when to be proactive and when to be reactive, but the issue that has plagued Arsenal for longest – and for which it seemed the Gunners had little answer for – has been mentality.

Away wins against the reigning champions and the scourge of Arsenal’s domestic sojourns away from the Emirates has gone a long way to putting that to bed. Arsenal were superb in their professionalism in both matches but the most impressive was against United. Unlike the game at the Etihad, Arsenal were not in complete control of this game.

United had their chances and even managed to bring the match level when Arsenal look the lead. Arsenal of recent years, even as recent as last November would not have responded the way they did.

Wenger’s men gave United a lesson in the virtues of patience. They stuck to their game plan and waited for an opportunity to arise. That possibly demeans what Welbeck did as he had work to do to score his winning goal but the team not attempting to force the situation as they so often do possibly relaxed Manchester United into a sense of security that led to a sloppy back pass.

Momentum is the key for Arsenal now. They have the confidence of two massive away wins in the domestic season to spur them on and have only lost 2 games in their last 13 domestic matches and are unbeaten in 6 matches in the league and cup.

There are three highly attainable points up for grabs this Saturday and it would be criminal for Arsenal to squander the feel-good wave they are riding on.

Arsenal from; Szczesny, Ospina, Gibbs, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Chambers, Monreal, Bellerin, Coquelin, Rosicky, Özil, Walcott, Welbeck, Cazorla, Alexis, Giroud, Akpom.

Predicted line-up

Ospina, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Özil, Cazorla, Welbeck, Alexis, Giroud

I expect to see substitute appearances from Rosicky, Chambers and Walcott.

Match quote

“We know that every single game is decisive now. We are already looking forward to the next game.”  – Arsène Wenger

Last 3 meetings

  • West Ham 1-2 Arsenal (28.12.2014)
  • Arsenal 3-1 West Ham (15.04.2014)
  • West Ham 1-3 Arsenal (26.12.2013)

Form guide

Arsenal Last 5
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West Ham United Last 5
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Opposition Watch

Before Christmas West Ham were considered as being part of the race for the top four after some impressive displays and big scalps but things have started to turn sour for the Irons and their mounting injury list has seen them drop to tenth in the league.

West Ham are perfectly capable of upsetting Arsenal at the Emirates tomorrow and you would expect Allardyce to set up his team to frustrate Arsenal. This is were Arsenal’s new found patience will be tested.

The Hammers have a host of players missing including Reid, Carroll, Jenkinson (due to loan rules), Tomkins, Cole and Valencia and this could make them more dangerous as we have no idea what team Allardyce is going to cobble together and how he’ll instruct them to play.

33-year-old Guy Demel is likely to play at right-back and will try to contain Alexis which will restrict their width as West Ham are likely to double up on our Chilean star. This could be the perfect game to reintroduce Walcott as his speed down the right hand side may force West Ham to play a narrower game which certainly suits our skilful central midfielders.

Factfile

Theo Walcott has scored five and assisted three goals in his last four league games against West Ham

Arsenal have only lost two league games in 2015

West Ham haven’t beaten Arsenal in the Premier League in 13 attempts and have lost the last 8 consecutively

Olivier Giroud has four goals in four games against the Hammers

Sam Allardyce has never beaten Arsenal away in the Premier League

Arsenal haven’t lost a domestic game at home since losing to Man Utd in November

Prediction

3-0 to Arsenal with Alexis, Özil and Giroud on the scoresheet.

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