West Ham begin their real Premier League tests against Arsenal
The Hammers go into Saturday’s home clash with the Gunners on the back of victory at QPR, but they know this will be a much sterner test
This is where the return to the Premier League really starts for the Hammers.
Forget Norwich, Aston Villa, Fulham and QPR the going starts to really get tough when you come up against the big guns and one of those is certainly Arsenal.
Arsene Wenger’s side lost their first game of the season last Saturday when Chelsea came away from the Emirates with a 2-1 win.
The Gunners also had the distraction of a Champions League clash with Olympiakos on Wednesday, but make no mistake this will be a real test for Sam Allardyce’s side.
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Arsenal lost Robin van Persie and Alex Song in the summer, but unsually, Wenger has splashed some cash on replacements.
Olivier Giroud arrived from Montpellier for �13 million, followed by Santi Cazorla from Malaga for �15m.
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But perhaps the shrewdest acquisition is that of Lukas Podolski, who cost them �11m from Cologne and will be the one to watch on Saturday.
While previous flop Gervinho top scores with five goals, Podolski is providing the big threat and already has four to his name.
Couple that with the prospect of either Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or Theo Walcott – or both – steaming down the flanks and exploiting West Ham’s lack of pace and Saturday is likely to prove the toughest test of the season so far.
Last time Arsenal came to Upton Park they eased to a 3-0 win in what was supposed to be Avram Grant’s last game before Martin O’Neill’s arrival.
West Ham came from behind with goals from Carlton Cole and an Alessandro Diamanti penalty for a 2-2 draw in 2009, but perhaps more memorable is the last time the Hammers beat Arsenal at Upton Park.
That came via a last-minute winner from Marlon Harewood, which led to a comical confrontation of Alan Pardew by a livid Wenger.
West Ham will look to keep this one tight and maybe they can grab a draw.
Possible team: Mannone, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Koscielny, Jenkinson, Cazorla, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Arteta, Podolski, Gervinho.
Prediction: West Ham United 1 Arsenal 1