Unai Emery talks! “For us it is very important for the table, and it is a derby. We will play with great motivation in the hope of making the top four. There is a chance for us today to play a good match and show everyone we are well. We can be better.”
Manuel Pellegrini speaks! “Marko Arnautovic is important. He has trained with the squad and the team; we are not thinking about other things. I know Samir Nasri very well, he played in the cup last week which was important for him after being out for a long time. He may not be ready for 90 minutes every week. I hope today we will be balanced and aggressive, we will go for the three points.”
Arsenal may have the upper hand in the Premier League … but West Ham will always have the 1980 FA Cup. Any old excuse to pop up a picture of a cup final from Wembley’s sun-kissed golden age.
West Ham make three changes to the team named for the 2-2 draw with Brighton & Hove Albion, their last Premier League game. Mark Noble and Michail Antonio return, while Samir Nasri makes his debut for his new club in the League. Dropping down to the bench: Robert Snodgrass, Pedro Obiang and Andy Carroll.
Arsenal meanwhile name the same side picked for the 4-1 win over Fulham. Plenty of changes from the team selected at Blackpool, of course, but that was the FA Cup and in the Premier League you know exactly what you’re getting with Arsenal these days.
West Ham United: Fabianski, Zabaleta, Diop, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Noble, Rice, Antonio, Nasri, Felipe Anderson, Arnautovic.
Subs: Carroll, Snodgrass, Adrian, Obiang, Masuaku, Lucas Perez, Diangana.
Arsenal: Leno, Koscielny, Papastathopoulos, Mustafi, Maitland-Niles, Guendouzi, Xhaka, Kolasinac, Iwobi, Aubameyang, Lacazette.
Subs: Cech, Bellerin, Ramsey, Torreira, Lichtsteiner, Monreal, Nketiah.
Referee: Jonathan Moss (County Durham).
West Ham United did the double over Arsenal in the 2006-07 season. Marlon Harewood settled a 1-0 win for the Hammers at Upton Park; Bobby Zamora secured the same scoreline at the Emirates. Heady days. But since then, their record over their illustrious London rivals hasn’t been too great. They’ve subsequently played each other 23 times, Arsenal winning on 18 occasions, West Ham just the once. Those Hammers fans slightly longer of tooth won’t be looking forward to this.
And yet West Ham shouldn’t give up hope just yet. They may have lost their last three matches against Arsenal, but those games were all held at the Emirates, and the last time they met at the London Stadium the game ended in a goalless draw. Perhaps more pertinently, they’ve taken 16 points out of the last 24 on offer. They’re beginning to hit their stride under Manuel Pellegrini.
Arsenal by comparison are currently a little difficult to predict. Unai Emery’s lads can be sensational on their day, and they’re putting together quite a portfolio of pretty goals. But they haven’t won away in the league since November, a run that’s taken in painful defeats at Southampton and Liverpool. To illustrate their inconsistency, their last three matches have ended 3-0, 4-1 and 1-5. Good luck guessing what they’ll do today.
So for different reasons, both teams will fancy their chances. Hopefully that’ll mean a lovely open match full of goals, in a fixture that has recently finished 3-3, 1-5 and, er, 0-0. It’s on!
Kick off: 12.30pm GMT.