Saturday was a grueling afternoon for the Arsenal players with the game going to extra time and a few of them must be feeling the effects. It was Aaron Ramsey's first full game of the year and he played over 100 minutes before being replaced by Kim Kallstrom. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has had his injury problems recently too and he gave everything he had for 120 minutes against Wigan.
Nacho Monreal went off injured and he has to be a doubt too, but at least Kieran Gibbs was able to come on for him and should be available again. There's also a possibility of Laurent Koscielny returning from injury to strengthen the defence and Wojciech Szczesny will of course return in goal for Lukasz Fabianski. I can only imagine Olivier Giroud will take over from Yaya Sanogo in the centre forward role and there is a slight doubt about Lukas Podolski too.
I would be surprised if Ramsey and Chamberlain started and they will be missed if they don't play. There would be no point in pushing them to the point where they end up missing the remaining games through injury. If they're not playng it will leave the team short of pace and they have struggled without pace in recent months.
With Mathieu Flamini still suspended it means Mikel Arteta will have to play again and he's another player who gave an awful lot in the 120 minutes on Saturday. There's a chance of Tomas Rosicky returning after missing out through injury on Saturday and surely Kallstrom has to be considered from the start. He was brought in for his experience among other things and he must have something to offer to the team.
West Ham have done well in recent weeks and they're safe from relegation worries. They will look to put pressure on Arsenal as often as possible and we can expect to see plenty of balls into the Arsenal box at every opportunity. With Andy Carroll up front they will expect to win their fair share of balls in the air and cause trouble from knock downs too. It's hardly an attractive style of play but it's all Sam Allardyce knows and it has worked well for him in the past.
Arsenal haven't won in their last four league games and it's reached a stage where there can be no more slip ups. Their remaining five games are all winnable and they will end up on 79 points if they do win them all. I can't imagine Everton will finish ahead of Arsenal if Arsenal win those five games considering the opponents Everton still have to play.
It's simple to say Arsenal have an easier run in but the way they have played recently it won't be easy to beat anybody. I'm hoping the semi final win and upcoming final will give the players the boost they need to overcome their current form. There's nothing like playing for your place in a cup final team to get the best out of players. There's still a few more players to return from injury too and places in the final will be at a premium.
Despite Arsenal's recent run of poor results they still have a very good home record and haven't lost a home game since the opening day of the season. Only Chelsea have a better defensive record at home than Arsenal and they still have to be favourites to win. West Ham have only won four of their 16 away games and have only scored 14 goals in those games, but only Chelsea and Everton have conceded less goals away from home.
They are sure to try to keep the game as tight as possible and frustrate an Arsenal team which could be suffering from a little fatigue. If Arsenal are without the pace of Chamberlain in particular it will be a big blow as he's the only player available who's prepared to run at defenders and make things happen. They tend to play far too slowly without him in the team and can be far too predictable.
I don't think it's going to be easy for Arsenal but I do think they have enough to beat West Ham. At this stage in the season it's all about results and Arsenal need to win whether it's pretty or ugly. If they can take the three points the pressure will be back on Everton ahead of their game at home to Palace on Wednesday night.
It's important for Arsenal to end their trophy drought and hopefully they can do so against Hull next month in the FA Cup final, but it's equally important for them to qualify for next season's Champions League. It won't be easy to attract the quality players Arsenal need to strengthen their squad this summer if they haven't booked a place among Europe's elite for next season. I still believe they will do it and take the FA Cup too, but the time for slipping up is over and it's do or die now.
A win over West Ham is absolutely essential and it has to be followed by victories over Hull, Newcastle, West Brom, Norwich and Hull again. Six wins in the final six games of the season and the season will be judged to have been a success despite the collapse in the league. Anything less and the season could possibly be judged as an unmitigated disaster. It's a very fine line between the two of them and hopefully Arsenal can stay on the right side of that line starting with victory over West Ham tonight.
That's it for today.
See you tomorrow.