Our football writer previews the London derby contested between West Ham United and Arsenal.
This London derby is going to have added incentive for both managers following the elimination of both teams from the English League Cup this week. You have got to feel for Slaven Bilic. Just when things seem to be coming around in what has been an almost absurd spell of injuries, further issues plague the Hammers this week. He will be attempting to motivate his side by pointing out that the Hammers picked up four out of six points against the Gunners last season.
The Gunners were quite soundly beaten by Southampton despite having several first team players in the starting line-up. Arsene Wenger will see this as an excellent opportunity to make up points as City host Chelsea in Manchester.
English Premier League | Saturday 3 December | London Stadium | 19:30
To Win (90 Mins)
West Ham 33/10 | Draw 29/10 | Arsenal 15/20
West Ham United
Dear oh dear Slaven. Not only has recently returned Diafra Sakho been ruled out for 6 more weeks, it seems as if he may be without both of his critical wing-backs this weekend. Aaron Cresswell - having just recently returned from a long-term layoff - gingerly walked off the field following what seemed to be a fairly innocuous incident with Antonio Valencia. And then - just to compound proceedings - Antonio went off the field for what appeared to be a groin issue.
Their replacement left-back Arthur Masuaku is unavailable, which may see one of their burly center-halves cover that area. Cheikhou Kouyate is fairly dynamic and may play down the left while former Liverpool player Alvaro Arbeloa plays off the right.
Andy Carroll is apparently about a week away from recovery and this will likely see Andre Ayew play through the middle. I prefer Ayew playing off the flanks, but neither Jonathan Calleri nor Simone Zaza has inspired confidence playing through the middle.
Dimitri Payet and Manuel Lanzini will look to support him as often as possible, but I expect them to be more embroiled in desperately covering for their depleted side in other areas of the field. I’m concerned for Bilic’s side this weekend.
Arsenal’s defeat to Southampton was their fourth consecutive defeat to Premier league opposition in the League Cup. Perhaps the most crystal distillation of the fact that League Cup concerns mean little in the world of Arsene Wenger.
I think that the French tactician may actually persist with Gabriel down the right-hand side instead of Carl Jenkinson. The Englishman was culpable midweek and Gabriel was actually surprisingly effective last week. And the probable absence of Cresswell only leads credence to this notion. Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott will return to the starting 11 as they sense blood in the proverbial water.
Mohammad Elneny looks to be the one possible injury blow from Wednesday night’s defeat to Southampton, unless that was purely a precautionary measure. Granit Xhaka will come back into the side while I believe Wenger may opt to play Aaron Ramsey in a deeper role here.
Coquelin had a poor game and Wenger knows that this could be a threadbare squad that West Ham name. I expect Arsenal to return to their swaggering best this weekend.
Verdict: Additional Totals - Over 3.5 Goals (29/20)
I think Arsenal are going to destroy West Ham. They managed to score three goals against a resolute and dynamic Bournemouth last weekend, so imagine what Sanchez and Ozil could do with a side that is likely going to be a skeleton assembly. West Ham could nick one through the virtuosity of Payet, but I can see a 3-1 or 4-1 scoreline here.
Written by Damien Kayat @Hollywoodbets