Thursday night’s defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion underlined the abyss into which Arsenal are falling. A team of strangers took to the field; a team of enemies left it.
Players squabbling among themselves, departing to a crescendo of boos as the Emirates gave its’ damning verdict on another dismal night’s football.
For West Ham, the Gunners disarray presents the perfect opportunity to take three much-needed points in their fight against relegation.
The unexpected win at Chelsea a fortnight ago breathed life into the Hammers ailing season although defeat at Wolverhampton Wanderers was an unwelcome setback.
But this Arsenal? This is one the Hammers should comfortably beat. The absence of guile and craft can be overcome by hard work.
The absence of guts and determination? They cannot be overcome and leave the Gunners looking nervously over their shoulders as they travel along the yellow brick road of the 2019/20 Premier League season.
West Ham United vs Arsenal Predictions
Neil Maupay’s late header gave Brighton their first-ever win at Arsenal and it came as no surprise. The Gunners were shambolic in the first half, improving for 20 minutes of the second before slipping into old ways.
Post-match, interim head coach Freddie Ljungberg used words such as “scared”, “nervousness” and “lacking confidence”. Hector Bellerin declared himself “lost for words”. Arsenal are in a mess and ripe for the picking.
You have to go back to 1976-77 for a run this bad in the club’s history. It seems improbable but that one was worse; eight consecutive defeats, bookended by two draws. This time, it’s five draws and four defeats.
Forty-three years ago, Arsenal fell from sixth to eleventh; this time, they are tenth and sinking. The top four is ten points away, the bottom three, five. Ljungberg and the squad must be looking downwards, not up at the moment.
It’s hard to see where their next points come from. Unai Emery was being given time because the fixture list was so ‘friendly’. It bit him and the Spaniard left. Ljungberg is heading for the same fate albeit returning to the coaching staff when the Gunners appoint the experienced boss they must find.
For the fallen north London giants, there is no solace to be found in others misery. The usual football banter falls flat on its face in these circumstances.
Alexandre Lacazette scored his third in the last four against Brighton, matching the record of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. This is a rare bright spot.
There are none defensively. Arsenal have conceded twice in each of the last five (D2, L3) and haven’t kept a clean sheet in the Premier League since the 1 – 0 win at Newcastle United on the opening day of the season.
Every time there seems to be a positive upon which Arsenal can build, the players contrive to take it downwards and turn it into a negative.
Which is a positive for West Ham, at long last. The win at Chelsea was as welcome as it was unexpected. The Hammers gameplan worked to a tee and they were able to capitalise on a subdued Blues performance to take three well-earned points.
Now, they get the chance to record back-to-back home wins over Arsenal for the first time since 1984 when they recorded their second consecutive 3 – 1 win over their more illustrious neighbours.
It hasn’t been an easy season for the Eastenders. A 5 – 0 opening day drubbing at the hands of Manchester City was quickly followed by a six-match unbeaten run (W3, D3) but since then it’s one win in nine (D2, L6) with some of those losses heavy.
They now sit two points above Everton in eighteenth with the spectre of relegation clearly visible. However, the postponement of Liverpool’s visit to the London Stadium puts a different complexion on the fixture list.
Only Leicester City of the top four feature between now and February, albeit twice. The remainder are against teams whose safety is far from guaranteed. The bottom of the table is tight with just five points separating eighteenth from ninth. No-one is safe from the drop in that group of teams.
The Hammers can put some distance between themselves and the bottom three with wins in their next two games: Arsenal (H), Southampton (A).
Tricky games in their own rights but eminently winnable. And certainly games to be won if Pellegrini is to avoid becoming another managerial statistic this season.
West Ham United vs Arsenal Head to Head
Arsenal dominate this fixture historically with 66 wins over the Hammers and 39 drawn. West Ham United have won 35, including last season’s corresponding fixture thanks to Declan Rice’s 48th-minute goal.
The home side has done well in recent years when West Ham United and Arsenal meet. It’s been six games since the away side won either at the London Stadium or the Emirates with the last coming in Arsenal’s 5 – 1 win in December 2016.
A fly in the ointment for the Hammers optimism over a good result is that West Ham haven’t won a December fixture against the Gunners since 1983 (D2, L5). Five of those matches were home games (D2, L3) which offers little hope of history pointing to a home win.
West Ham United Team News
Manuel Lanzini and Lukasz Fabianski are definitely out for the Hammers. Both have long-term injuries which keep them out until the new year.
However, Michail Antonio is expected to return to the first team after being rested against Wolves in midweek. Sebastien Haller is likely to make way.
Jack Wilshere is rated as no better than 50:50 to face his former club while Winston Reid is making good progress having played for the Under-23s. Both are likely to be on the bench at best.
Arsenal Team News
If anyone finds an Arsenal team, could they please send it to Freddie Ljungberg.
Otherwise, the Swede is only without Dani Ceballos and Rob Holding. Neither is expected to be fit for this clash.
West Ham United vs Arsenal Betting Tips
Despite their abysmal form, Arsenal are 51/50 favourites in the Novibet Matchday odds with West Ham 13/5 to pull off a famous home victory. The more likely result of a draw sits at 3/1.
Declan Rice scored the winner here last season and he is 10/1 to hit the back of the net in the Anytime Goalscorer market. I couldn’t find the Barn Door option among Arsenal’s strikers so the 5/4 on offer for Gabriel Martinelli is proving quietly appealing
It’s likely to be a low-scoring affair with the Match Result and Both Teams to Score market offering some value. I like the Draw and Yes offered at 13/4.