An intriguing London derby gets the weekend’s Premier League action underway, with both these clubs hoping to be playing amongst Europe’s elite next season.
The Hammers dropped two points last weekend as Cheikhou Kouyate’s sending off – which was later rescinded – saw them pegged back by Crystal Palace and they ended up sharing the spoils in a 2-2 draw, a match which saw the hosts extend their unbeaten run to six games with Dimitri Payet continuing his superb run of scoring sublime free-kicks.
Slaven Bilic’s side remain just three points outside the top four with seven games remaining, and are looking to continue their impressive home record in their last season at the Boleyn Ground; just two teams have left East London with all three points so far.
The hosts set the tone for their impressive campaign with a 2-0 win in the reverse fixture at the Emirates back on the opening day in August; a repeat result would complete West Ham’s first double over Arsenal since the 2006/07 campaign.
Arsenal will be sad to see the back of the Boleyn, as it is a ground that has been kind to them in recent years; they are undefeated in their last seven league visits there and have won on each of their past four visits to West Ham.
Last weekend’s resounding 4-0 win over Watford at the Emirates consolidated the Gunners’ place in the top four – they are now five points clear of Manchester United in fifth.
Crucially, Alexis Sanchez looked like he was returning to his best form last time out, and with Alex Iwobi adding youthful exuberance and a goal threat to the front line, Arsene Wenger’s men look in good shape to add to their joint league-high tally of 29 goals on the road.
Bilic has a full strength squad to choose from after Kouyate’s red card was rescinded during the week.
For the visitors, midfielders Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini could feature after recovering from thigh and hamstring injuries respectively, while Petr Cech should start in place of David Ospina between the sticks after returning to the bench for last weekend’s victory against Watford.
League Position: West Ham – 6th (51 pts); Arsenal – 3rd (58 pts)
Previous Meeting: Arsenal 0-2 West Ham (August 9, 2015)
Form: West Ham – DWWWDD; Arsenal – WLLDWW
Key Players: West Ham – Dimitri Payet; Arsenal – Alexis Sanchez
Shoot Says: West Ham 2-2 Arsenal