Arsenal vs. West Ham
Venue: Emirates Stadium
Kick off: 3PM
London rivals Arsenal and West Ham United face off at the Emirates Stadium this afternoon seeking their first points of the 2018-19 Premier League season.
Both sides have suffered back-to-back defeats under their new managers and are in desperate need of a confidence-boosting result today.
The general impression you get from Unai Emery, despite his side beginning the season with losses to Manchester City and Chelsea, is that there are plenty of positives to take into the remaining nine months of the season.
Emery was fully aware of the magnitude of the task facing him when agreeing to take over from long-serving boss Arsene Wenger at the Emirates Stadium, and so it has proved with defeats to the reigning champions and the side they dethroned at the top of the pile.
Some have suggested that Arsenal look no different to the final few years under Wenger, with their defensive frailties costing them in the big moments, while others – namely Ray Parlour and Gary Neville – have sided with Emery and backed the Spaniard to get things right over time.
The former Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain chief has a proven track record for success, and already he has shown that – unlike Wenger – he is willing to make some big calls. Mesut Ozil, for example, was subbed against Chelsea; contract rebel Aaron Ramsey was left out of the starting lineup entirely for that early-season showdown.
On the other hand, West Ham pull off a coup of sorts by landing Manuel Pellegrini, making him the third-best paid boss in the Premier League in the process, and splashing out £100m on new recruits, starting the season with successive defeats is not ideal to say the least.
The 4-0 defeat to Liverpool on the opening weekend was followed up by an even more disappointing 2-1 home loss to Bournemouth, with the Hammers surrendering a one-goal lead to the top flight’s comeback kings last week.
Already players are pleading for patience, with goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski – one of the nine new recruits being integrated into the side – insisting that it was always going to take time for him and his new teammates to click together.
Pellegrini, meanwhile, believes that United are suffering a hangover from last season’s disappointing campaign, and the title-winning boss even suggested that his players ‘lacked trust’ in their defeat to Bournemouth at the London Stadium.
Hardly a ringing endorsement, then, and should two defeats become three today, it is fair to say that the bubble will have well and truly bust.
Arsenal possible XI: Cech, Monreal, Sokratis, Mustafi, Bellerin, Guendouzi, Torreira, Iwobi, Ramsey, Mkhitaryan, Aubameyang.
West Ham United possible XI: Fabianski, Zabaleta, Balbuena, Ogbonna, Masuaku, Noble, Sanchez, Perez, Wilshere, Anderson, Arnautovic.