There is a real opportunity, this weekend, for Arsenal to create some space from the chasing pack in the race for the top four but in West Ham, Arsene Wenger’s men can expect to work hard for three points. The Hammers are not quite on the same form they were in when both teams met at Upton Park in December and you would imagine the loss of Enner Valencia would limit their threat.
But as the first team ever to beat the Gunners at the Emirates, Wenger won’t be taking anything lightly and you may expect him to consider the following five points.
- Keeping a good tempo
With a very balanced midfield, West Ham will prove hard to break down and may not really give much away. Song and Mark Noble are good possessors of the ball and Cheikou Kouyate gives them added solidity. But like against United, playing at a quick tempo can force errors and with the advantage of the home support, the Gunners can afford to hassle the hammers into relinquishing possession.
- Sturdiness on Set Pieces
They might have been terrible in their concession of three set piece goals against Crystal Palace but West Ham, even without Andy Carroll, are the kings of the crosses. It was through a set piece that they scored in that last game in December and it is one tactic that they will look to explore again. Fortunately, Arsenal have had good practice, dealing with that from Louis Van Gaal’s ‘Fellainistic’ strategy last Monday.
- Theo for pace?
It’s fair to say not many Arsenal fans are overly anxious about Walcott’s contract situation at the moment but it is premature to dismiss the influence he can still have if he becomes able to adapt his game to the newly developing work ethic of the team. With the Ox set to be out for a month, Wenger should give him an extended chance to prove himself and a good game here can motivate him to wreck some havoc in Monaco.
- But Monaco shouldn’t be on their minds now
After the magic of this week’s Champions League, many would have wished Arsenal’s next game would come immediately at the Stade Louis II to use the inspiration from the week. That is not the case and as such, it would be a distraction to have the players focused on that Tuesday trip rather than the one at hand. The top four race is certainly the more realistic to win and if other results go Arsenal’s way, we could be more serious talking about sealing third place.
- Have to be awake from the Start
There is no way Song should be allowed to shoot again from the edge of the box because the luck of the referee might not be on the Gunners’ side this time. Thankfully, it’s not a 12:45 kickoff and so there is no reason to start on a sleepy note.
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