Arsenal FC: Gunners Face Another Tough Test Away to West Ham
After a nervy performance midweek against Olympiakos, Arsenal will face yet another difficult test on Saturday against West Ham United. Newly promoted West Ham finds themselves two points clear of the Gunners heading into Saturday's match.
Arsenal tasted defeat for the first time in the 2012-13 season last weekend at the Emirates Stadium, but the Gunners will be looking to bounce back from that performance.
A boring and sloppy yet efficient performance midweek earned the Gunners their second victory in as many matches in the Champions League. With a victory to boost the squad's confidence after their first defeat, Arsenal will be hoping they can handle the Hammers.
Saturday's defeat saw Laurent Koscielny and Thomas Vermaelen anchor the defense, which didn't go so well for Arsene Wenger's men. The French defender could be to blame for both of Chelsea's goals, but Arsenal's defensive problems may have more to do with Vermaelen.
The Belgian international committed both fouls against Chelsea, which led to both goals. Against Olympiakos, Vermaelen was once again at fault for a number of clumsy challenges. If Per Mertesacker returns from illness this weekend, will Wenger opt to start the German over the new Arsenal captain, or will Koscielny be forced to sit out?
In the midfield, another injury blow to French international Abou Diaby forces Arsene Wenger to make some changes.
Mikel Arteta was able to feature against Olympiakos after an ankle injury almost kept him out of the match. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain got the start on Wednesday night, but a below par performance from the Englishman may allow Aaron Ramsey to make his way back into the starting squad.
Who will win the match?
West Ham will head into the match high on confidence after a victory at Loftus Road on Monday against a sputtering Queens Park Rangers.
New signing Matt Jarvis got things started, beating Julio Cesar with a clever header. The former Wolverhampton Wanderers player will be a big boost and a key figure for West Ham in their new campaign back in the English Premier League.
England international Andy Carroll could get the start on Saturday, as Allardyce will be looking to cause problems for the Arsenal defensive line. A strong and physical striker will be a perfect recipe for West Ham, as they aim to take advantage of what can be a shaky defense.
In nine matches against Arsenal, Allardyce has won four and drawn three. With only two victories against big Sam in the last nine fixtures, Wenger will be desperate for a victory ahead of the international break.
Andy Carroll's presence could prove to be a problem for Arsenal's defense, but after two shaky performances, one could only imagine that Steve Bould will have sorted everything out. After all, he has worked long and hard to get Arsenal's defense this far, and it would be a shame to see it all revert back to the same old mistakes.
An in form Gervinho will also be a headache for West Ham's defense. The Ivorian international scored again midweek, and he will look to continue his positive run at Upton Park.
Will Saturday finally be the day that Olivier Giroud gets his Premier League goalscoring career off to a start? What are your thoughts on the match and how will the match play out?
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