Unbeaten in the last 13 Premier League matches against West ham, winning the last eight in a row, Arsenal will aim for an eight successive home win in the league this season as they welcome West Ham on Saturday.
It may have taken some time for the magnitude of that FA Cup triumph over United on Monday evening to really sink in and the rest from the euphoria would not have been made easier with the sensations of the Champions League. All of a sudden, there are good reasons to hope for a miracle in Monaco but putting that game over West Ham could not be any more naïve than catastrophic.
Because, for Arsenal this season, the top four is just about as significant a feat as retaining the FA Cup and as the road continues to be bright on achieving the latter, so must the focus remain on earning the first.
Heroes of the tie: Old and New
After several barks on being snubbed on the Arsenal bench, it has not proven a good way out for Podolski in the Serie A so far and already on his mind is a return to London. You would imagine he would especially love to be involved in the coming game against West Ham, having been the main man of this fixture in the past two seasons, with three goals and three assists. But in Monday night’s man of the Match, Arsenal fans feel like they have a new hero who can truly provide a quality that has been missing for far too long.
Arsenal have won 11 of the 14 games in which Francis Coquelin has played since making his first League start against West Ham in December but more striking is that the Gunners can now comfortably play well without the ball. The Frenchman provides much needed work in the defensive areas to shield the back four and against a physically adept West Ham side, Le Coq’s influence will once again be so crucial, especially coming up again against Alex Song, the one with whom you can very well draw some similarities.
Oliver Twist – We want more
Much of the fantasy of this week’s football actions have had something to do with the Referees. Bjorn Kuipers did not exactly excel in his handling of Chelsea’s “babies” but Michael Oliver seemed to make a clear statement of what could have been if most of the Man United vs Arsenal Refs of the past decade dared to show some firmness in the face of Alex Ferguson.
The spotlight, as with many others, will be on Chris Foy this weekend whose last visit to North London in January did not actually go well, having disallowed Jan Vertonghen’s goal in Spurs’s game against Sunderland. However, he’s only Arsenal game this season was the 1-0 win over West Brom in November while this will be his fourth West Ham game this season, with the Hammers winning only one of the previous three.
The last thing we want in football is to see Referees influence rather than control the game and much like the fast growing Oliver, the 52-year old Foy should hopefully show good handling of this game, while gooners anticipate the sustenance of Arsenal’s 7-game unbeaten run with him in as the middle.
TIME TO PEEL AWAY
It could be a crucial point this season in the top four race and Arsenal can gain some breathing space by creating more distance between them and the chasing pack, so as to pay good attention to the Champions league and FA Cup. Spurs and United could cancel each other out, while Southampton could confirm their entry into the fight for Europa League places with a defeat at Chelsea.
But then, Arsenal would have to win the Hammers first and no one wants to think the effect an opposite could have on facing Monaco.
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