Arsenal and West Ham will be looking to get off the mark for the season when they meet at the Emirates Stadium. Both sides are in a similar situation, with a new manager looking to implement a new style of play, but whilst fans may be willing to be patient, there’s no doubt that a result is needed to ease the pressure, particularly for Unai Emery who will be expected to win at home with the Gunners.
It’s been a baptism of fire for the Spaniard into English football. An opening day defeat to Manchester City was understandable and a loss away to Chelsea was not unsurprising either. Yet, it’s been a real mixed bag in terms of performances. They pushed City, especially in the second half, but no one could deny that the visitors deserved a 2-0 win, whilst there were serious concerns about the style of play Emery wanted from his players, as they seemed to struggle to get to grips with playing it out from the back. A 3-2 defeat to Chelsea could’ve been very different though, with the Gunners spurning several incredible chances, yet on the balance of play it was a result the hosts perhaps merited.
As for West Ham and Manuel Pellegrini, things have not gone well. A 4-0 defeat at Liverpool was understandable but the way they defended was alarming and those issues were not rectified for the visit of Bournemouth, with the Cherries coming from behind to beat the Hammers. After a huge summer spend, with several big-name players coming into the club, expectation is high, so it’s two sides who have a lot to play for even at this early stage. With two attack-minded coaches, two sides with questionable looking defences and a lot of talent in the final third, it could be a very exciting game for the neutral when the two sides meet.
Arsenal vs West Ham United Prediction: Arsenal 3-2 West Ham United
The early signs suggest that arsenal could be a great watch this season. Emery is demanding a specific style of play, focusing on keeping the ball, attacking in numbers and defending with a high line and agressively. Problems at this early stage were inevitable though and they won’t be sorted in a few weeks. Therefore, it could be a highly entertaining game at the Emirates, with both sides capable of scoring goals.
West Ham, and Marko Arnautovic in particular, will be delighted having watched Arsenal defend in the first two games, yet we also have to acknowledge how good they can be going forward. It’s no exaggeration to say they should’ve easily scored four or five, perhaps more, at Stamford Bridge last week, which is hugely encouraging. With so much attacking talent, we are expecting the Gunners to use home advantage to ensure they edge what will be a very watchable game.
Our recommended tip: Arsenal win & BTTS
Having created so many presentable chances against Chelsea, West Ham will be worried about how they can stop Arsenal. It’s fair to say that they fell apart at Anfield and whilst going to the Gunners is no longer as daunting as heading to the red half of Merseyside, they are still a top team. With Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Aubameyand and Lacazette as some of the options to Emery up top, goals should flow. Plus, it hasn’t been all bad for Arsenal in those first two games, they’ve looked very good at times and they will know West Ham don’t have the same quality as their previous opponents.
Therefore, we expect a home win but we also expect the Hammers to score, at least once. They have spent big in recruiting this summer, with over £60m spent on Felipe Anderson and Andriy Yarmolenko to provide a creative spark in the final third. When you add them to the penalty-box predator that is Chicharito and the at-times unplayable Arnautovic, then Pellegrini’s men have enough about them to cause serious trouble to a poor Arsenal defence.
This will be the 139th meeting between these two London rivals and it’s a fixture that Arsenal have historically enjoyed. The Gunners have won 65 of the previous encounters, losing just 34, yet it’s their recent record against the Hammers that will leave West Ham fans worried. They have won just once against Arsenal since 2007, a run that stretches to 22 games, so it’s going to be a big ask to leave with anything this time around.
Yet, the one win, which came in 2015, was at the Emirates and it was a pretty big shock at the time, so the current crop might be using that for inspiration. The most recent meeting came at Arsenal’s home back in April, with the Gunners scoring three goals in the final ten minutes to win 4-1.
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Players to watch: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang & Marko Arnautovic
The former Dortmund striker made an immediate impact at Arsenal after joining in January, scoring ten in 13 games. However, he has struggled in his first two games, particularly at Stamford Bridge where he missed several good chances including one real sitter. But, the quality is there, few would doubt that and he will fancy his chances against a West Ham defence that have struggled to deal with quick strikers on the shoulder in their first two games. He will expect good service and could be the matchwinner if he rediscovers the form he displayed last season.
Meanwhile, Austrian international Arnautovic has established himself as the main man at West Ham in the past 12 months and he will need to be on form again if they are to have any chance of getting a result. He boasts great pace, power and his technical ability is undoubted. He too will fancy his chances after watching an Arsenal defence that pushes up and he should get chances at the Emirates and if he’s clinical then you wouldn’t rule out the Hammers getting something.