West Ham Preview v Arsenal
Samir Nasri may be the one to watch when the Hammers travel to The Emirates on Saturday.
FIRST THE good news, Arsenal’s star of the season, Jack Wilshere, is suspended for Saturday’s clash at the Emirates.
The youngster has been a revelation so far this term, earning him a place in the England squad ahead of Scott Parker, but one rash tackle against Birmingham City meant a three-game ban and no chance to ply his trade against the Hammers.
Now for the bad news. Cesc Fabregas is back and since the captain has returned to their ranks, little has gone wrong for the Gunners.
In his absence they lost at home to West Brom and were brushed aside by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, but since his return, the Spaniard has helped them to wins over Birmingham City, Shakhtar Donetsk and on Sunday at title rivals Manchester City, despite Fabregas missing a penalty.
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Second-placed Arsenal have thumped in 25 goals in all competitions at the Emirates this term already, scoring six against Blackpool and Braga, five against Shakhtar and four more against Bolton Wanderers.
Chamakh has managed six goals this term, with Theo Walcott adding four, but it is Frenchman Samir Nasri who is leading the way with seven goals from seven games so far, making him the one to watch.
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He is beginning to step out of the shadow of Fabregas and it is Premier League defences that have been suffering accordingly.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was his usual frugal self in the tranfer window. Chamakh chose the Emirates over Upton Park to arrive from Bordeaux, while centre halves Sebastien Squillaci arrived from Sevilla and Laurent Koscielny from Lorient in France.
The Gunners are likely to be without the injured Robin van Persie, while Thomas Vermaelen is close to a return and though Manuel Almunia should be fit, the in-form Lukasz Fabianski is likely to be preferred.
Last term West Ham threw it away at Arsenal as Alessandro Diamanti missed a penalty and the Gunners played the entire second half with 10 men, only for Denilson and Fabregas to settle the issue against an unadventurous Hammers team.
West Ham fans will hope for better this time round. Remember they were the last team to win at Highbury and the first to win at the Emirates – surely that counts for something?
West Brom have already won at the Emirates this season to show that it can be done.
Can Avram Grant’s boys go the same way? I don’t think so.
Possible team: Fabianski, Squillaci, Clichy, Djourou, Sagna, Arshavin, Fabregas, Song, Denilson, Nasri, Chamakh.
Arsenal 4 West Ham 1