Prediction: West Ham vs Arsenal

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Verdict: Arsenal Win and Both Teams to Score

Best Odds: 11/5

Bookmakers: Bet 365

The Premier League scheduling gods have blessed us with yet more midweek football, and West Ham welcome Arsenal to the London Stadium on Wednesday for a clash between two sides with vastly different fortunes this season. The Hammers find themselves very much in the middle of a relegation battle, while the Gunners are eyeing their usual fourth spot. In the midst of a busy fixture schedule that will only worsen over Christmas, games like these are hugely important for both teams.

West Ham

Having gone eight games without a win, the Hammers inexplicably beat reigning Premier League champions Chelsea at home at the weekend. A well-worked early goal by Marko Arnautovic gave West Ham a lead to defend, and they managed to keep their first clean sheet in nine games. The result does however looked to be more of an outlier rather than a judge of the team’s form, especially as new manager David Moyes oversaw three losses in his first four games in charge. The former Manchester United and Everton coach has a squad brimming with talent, but the likes of Arnautovic, Manuel Lanzini and Andy Carroll have all be underwhelming this season.

The Hammers have severely missed star striker Javier Hernandez, who has been side-lined due to a hamstring injury for some time. Before his injury the Mexican forward had bagged four league goals, but he struggled for game time under Moyes at Manchester United, so it remains to be seen how he will be utilised this season. With West Ham having scored just 14 times in 16 games however, the forward will likely be called into action soon. An even more pressing issue however is the defence. With 32 goals conceded so far, the Hammers are leaking two goals a game on average, and until that statistic improves it is difficult to see them climbing much further up the table.

Team News

Cheikhou Kouyate and Sam Byram will likely miss out for this game, but the pair are expected to return at the weekend. James Collins will face a late injury test, but is expected to start.

Jose Fonte won’t return until the New Year, but Javier Hernandez should be back to full fitness and back in contention after his hamstring issue.

Arsenal

Despite their remarkably good home form, Arsenal have been incredibly inconsistent on the road. Seven wins out of eight at the Emirates have kept them in the race for the top four, but they have won just twice away from home all season in the league. The Gunners have been struggling defensively, and have actually conceded as many goals as the much maligned, and often ridiculed, Liverpool back line. Arsene Wenger’s men have leaked 20 goals through their 16 games, and only two of their seven clean sheets have come on their travels. The increasingly unpopular coach will need to sort this out quickly if Arsenal are to continue competing with their top four rivals, but the absence of Shkodran Mustafi’s for this game won’t help.

There are silver linings however. Summer signing Alexandre Lacazette seems to have settled in quite quickly, with eight league goals already this season. Their home form has been hugely impressive, and only an unlucky defeat to Manchester United ended their 100% record at the Emirates. Sead Kolasinac also looks to be an excellent wingback, and his tendency to get forward has given the Gunners an extra element in attack. Arsenal are still without a doubt a top side, but unless their away form improves it may be difficult for them to claim fourth spot, and subsequent qualification for the Champions League.

Team News

Shkodran Mustafi’s thigh injury will keep him out of this clash, and Aaron Ramsey will miss out too. Per Mertesacker and Jack Wilshere will likely fill in as replacements.

Theo Walcott won’t be back in time for this game, and Santi Cazorla remains side-lined for the long term.

Key Factors to Consider

  • West Ham have scored just 14 times in the league this season, and have failed to score in seven games.
  • The Hammers have also conceded 32 goals, giving them the second worst defensive record in the league.
  • Arsenal have netted 30 times in this campaign, with summer signing Alexandre Lacazette grabbing eight of those.
  • The Gunners have let in 20 goals, making them the joint worst defensive team inside the top seven.
  • Arsenal have only failed to score in one game so far this season.

Conclusion

I’m betting that West Ham’s win over Chelsea was a blip in an otherwise awful season, and with Arsenal scoring fairly freely this season, it is difficult to see the Hammers being able to keep out the likes of Lacazette and Alexis Sanchez. The Gunners will want to get back on track after a draw at Southampton, and this is exactly the kind of fixture that they should win comfortably, but with their shaky away record it is definitely possible that Moyes’ men will find the back of the net.

Verdict: Arsenal Win and Both Teams to Score

Best Odds: 11/5

Bookmakers: Bet 365

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