Premier League action resumes for Arsenal when they host London rivals West Ham United at the Emirates as Mikel Arteta seeks to keep momentum.
The eight-week World Cup-enforced break is about to end, and Arsenal will be back in action at the Emirates on Boxing Day when they host London rivals West Ham United. Mikel Arteta will know the need to get serious about the title chase, and this is an opportunity for the Gunners to go eight points clear at the top, albeit temporarily.
Fifteen years ago, Arsenal found themselves in a similar position at the table’s summit, and then their title charge derailed following a horrific injury to their main striker. This time around, Gabriel Jesus’s knee injury worries Arteta, with the Gunners’ boss hoping history does not repeat itself.
Before the World Cup break, Martin Odegaard’s brace ensured Arsenal returned from Wolverhampton Wanderers with all three points and went five points clear of nearest rivals Manchester City. Arteta will hope his team resumes from where they left off and dispatch a West Ham United reeling from several problems.
Unlike Arsenal, David Moyes’s side finished in torrid form before the break after disappointing home losses to Crystal Palace and Leicester City. Sandwiched between those games was also a morale-sapping exit from the EFL Cup at the hands of Blackburn Rovers on penalties.
The Hammers finished the first part of the season in the 16th spot. Another loss would push them into the relegation zone, especially if those teams below them can conjure up wins. Moyes has a huge task to balance West Ham’s season, which could go out of his hands if his team cannot start winning games.
Moyes is also aware of the dreadful away form his men currently find themselves in. The Hammers have taken just one point from their previous five away trips, yielding only three goals. A win or draw against Arsenal would boost the confidence at West Ham, although it may appear difficult.
Team News & Tactics
Full focus on Monday 👊 pic.twitter.com/FyO3kdK3Ye
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) December 24, 2022
The injury to Gabriel Jesus has shaken up those at Arsenal, with many predicting the beginning of their downfall. Yet, Mikel Arteta does not seem too panicked about the situation. The Arsenal manager is set to place his trust in Eddie Nketiah again.
Nketiah is the obvious choice to replace Jesus. Compared to the UEFA Europa League group-stage games, he will have better quality around him in Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli. Beyond the Brazilian, Arteta still has plenty of injuries to contend with, with another five players out or highly doubtful.
Arteta confirmed Emile Smith Rowe would be absent from the West Ham United game following a minor setback in his recovery. Reiss Nelson also suffered an injury during the friendly against Juventus, and he will miss the next few weeks of action.
There are doubts over Oleksandr Zinchenko, Takehiro Tomiyasu, and Albert Sambi Lokonga’s involvement. Meanwhile, Arteta did not confirm whether William Saliba will be fit to start the game. However, the Frenchman could form a part of the backline alongside Ben White, Gabriel Magalhaes, and Kieran Tierney.
World Cup returnees Thomas Partey, Granit Xhaka, Saka, and Martinelli have had ample time to re-integrate with the squad. The quartet will start on Boxing Day. Odegaard will complete the attacking setup, as the Gunners skipper has been with the squad during the enforced break.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Ramsdale; Ben White, Saliba, Gabriel, Tierney; Partey, Xhaka; Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli; Nketiah
West Ham United
David Moyes also has plenty of potential absentees to contend with ahead of the Emirates visit. The West Ham United boss more or less confirmed his two strikers, Michail Antonio and Gianluca Scamacca, would miss the clash against Arsenal. Hence, it is safe to assume Jarrod Bowen will play a central role and lead the line.
Putting the work in 👊 pic.twitter.com/OU4xkb7zzo
— West Ham United (@WestHam) December 23, 2022
Defenders Nayef Aguerd and Aaron Cresswell are also significant doubts, while Kurt Zouma is already missing from action. Hence, Craig Dawson and Angelo Ogbonna could form the central defensive partnership. Thilo Kehrer and Emerson Palmieri will take the full-back roles.
Alternatively, Thilo Kehrer could come in the middle instead of the Italian centre-back, and Moyes could have Ben Johnson at right-back. The latter choice could be something Moyes might opt for, as it provides some much-needed balance to his backline.
Moyes will likely have his central midfield pairing Tomas Soucek and Declan Rice available to start. Lucas Paqueta could further advance in the no.10 role, with Pablo Fornals and Said Benrahma on either side of the Brazilian.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Fabianski; Johnson, Kehrer, Dawson, Emerson; Soucek, Rice; Fornals, Paqueta, Benrahma; Bowen
- Arsenal have won their last seven home matches against West Ham in all competitions.
- Arsenal have scored at least two goals in their last four matches against West Ham in all competitions.
- Arsenal have kept a clean sheet in their last three matches in the Premier League.
- West Ham have lost their last three matches in the Premier League.
- West Ham have taken only a single point from their last five away Premier League matches.
Player to Watch
🗣️| Arteta on Nketiah & the Premier League returning: “Eddie is always ready. He knows that it opens an opportunity for him. He needs to grab it but the way he trains every day and the mentality he has, he gives us no reason not to think he’s going to be super ready to perform.” pic.twitter.com/w1vQunRr1N
— Arsenal Buzz (@ArsenalBuzzCom) December 18, 2022
Nketiah was a wonderful presence in this Arsenal side during the final phase of last season, scoring some crucial goals. The striker signed a lucrative, long-term deal with the club but has yet to open his account in the Premier League this season.
Much of the talk in Gabriel Jesus’s absence has revolved around whether Nketiah can sufficiently fill the Brazilian’s shoes. Since doubts are cast on the striker’s ability to help Arsenal sustain a title challenge, the forward will have his chance to show Mikel Arteta he can perform and that the club does not need a replacement for their injured frontman.
Arsenal 2-1 West Ham United
The Gunners have had a bad record conceding goals at the Emirates this season, and that streak may continue to trouble Aaron Ramsdale’s goal. Arsenal will likely continue their winning run and take another set of points to keep their position on the table intact.
Despite losing Jesus, the Gunners still have plenty of quality and goals in the team to hurt the Hammers. David Moyes will rue the absence of some of his key defenders for such an important game. The somewhat weakened backline will lead to a defeat to Arsenal for West Ham at the Emirates.
Var had disallowed Martinellis goal againstMU.
So don’t be surprised of another decision to stop the gunners winning .