Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Arsenal's Premier League Game With West Ham Previewed

With a place in next month's FA Cup final booked it's back to Premier League action for Arsenal tonight with a home game against West Ham. While Arsenal were winning their place in that final they were overtaken by Everton and they're now two points behind them with five games left for both clubs. If Arsenal are going to finish in the Champions League places they are probably going to have to take maximum points from their remaining games.

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.


  1. We lacked Spirit during the game players looked dsrained but some how we got result For the Westham game I just Hope We stay with Fabianski for the matter the restof the Season Szczesny is. Not in form and has given up way too many gosld. Vs. Chelsea and liverpool and the debacle Vs munich as for Girud I hope he stays on the Bench and Sonogo given a chance as he looks to be hungry for goal and Runs a lot more

    1. We were by far the better team against Wigan and they never looked like scoring besides the penalty. The Arsenal players were nervous for sure but I wouldn't say they lacked spirit. Szczesny has done very little wrong as I see it and Fabianski can't be picked ahead of him if he is leaving in the summer. I think Sanogo might not be a bad choice up front but I would be surprised if Giroud didn't play from the start,

  2. Big Sam know how Arsenal and how to lay against them. I for one aint going to be surprised the gunners draw or even lose.However the gunners are due a win soon according to the law of averages.Similarly Everton with 8 wins on the tro t and Pool ten win s could get unstuck against mediocre opposition
    BS will ask his players to get in the gunners faces and deny them time and space and play anti soccer.Let's see how the gunners react when not allowed to play their normal game.

    1. They haven't played their normal game for far too long now, but they are still a better team than West Ham and can win if they can give everything they have.

  3. Let's see how the gunner s perform against BIg Sam.I can assure you if Wenger plays his passing all day WH will hit on the break.
    Reports indicate the fm will probably sign the extension.If he can't win the cup or finish 4th,the stigma of the specialist in failure will become true.He has nobody,to blame not even Bould,for his one style play.That is why he will continue to lose the big games where the managers are pragmatic and know a win is a win. They don't bother about how you go about winning except the fm.Until he comes to his senses I for one aint going to be surprised he will lose to Bruce in the cup.

  4. When you see how AM performed against Barcelona,you wonder why Arsenal can't do likewise in the big games. It' s all down to the manager. The Am manager has a fraction of the vast resources Barcelona have and yet he has consistently punched or jumped above his weight.
    I believed it's all due mainlyto tactics,dicipline and organisation. Wenger has been a failure as far as tactics are concerned. Until he can prove otherwise,the jury will will still be there.m

  5. I think Oxlade-chamberlain needs a rest considering he was clinging to life in the Wigan game, and Ramsey shouldn't play considering he's played over 150 minutes of football in the past two weeks (which is more than Podolski), and is just back from injury. Realistically, if Poldi and Rosicky are available, we should go for a 4-4-2 with Podolski and Giroud up front, Poldi playing slightly off to the left. Kim Kallstrom and Arteta should play in the centre, with Kallstrom being the anchor to play long balls from the defence, and Arteta playing the short splitting passes to the wings to Cazorla or Rosicky. Rosicky has the choice to cut in as an effective number 10, cross from the wing, or play Giroud/ Poldi on. Cazorla should stick to the wing and play Podolski in. Defensive line should remain high as usual if Kos is in, as Andy Caroll is more effective in the box and will be caught offside more times than not. Keep Poldi on for the 90, take Cazorla/ Rosicky off and put Sanogo on with Podolski on the wing towards the end if worst comes to worst. Our 4-4-2 looked effective on Saturday, it's just unfortunate that Sanogo is yet to score. We don't have the players at the moment for the 4-2-3-1 passing game, and the sooner Wenger realises that, the better. In two weeks, yes. Against West Ham? Not a hope.

  6. we're going to have to get at them early to get a first-half goal; I worry that our legs will get rubbery in the second half and we can ill-afford to have to chase the game for a full 90'. Even with the Hull match moved to Sunday, we are looking too weary as it is. Here's hoping we can hit 'em hard and get that first goal!

    1. When we score first and lead at half time we win so I reckon taht's a very good plan.