West Ham vs. Arsenal
Venue: London Stadium
Kick off: 1:30PM
Gameweek 22 of the Premier League season gets underway with a capital city derby as West Ham United face Arsenal at the London Stadium.
The Hammers go into the match sitting in mid-table following an inconsistent campaign so far, while Arsenal have the chance to temporarily move level on points with fourth-placed Chelsea.
Matters off the field will be most concerning to West Ham fans in the build-up to this match following the revelation that star man Marko Arnautovic wants to leave the club.
The forward’s brother revealed on Thursday that the Austrian is eager for the club to accept a £35 million bid from China, although West Ham have since insisted that he is not for sale.
Whether that wrangling spills onto the pitch – either in the form of Arnautovic being dropped or letting his performance level drop – remains to be seen, but it is an unwelcome distraction for a side looking to establish themselves in the top half.
The hosts go into the game sitting 10th in the table having won eight and lost nine of their opening 21 games, and victory would lift them up to eighth for a few hours at least.
The Hammers have only won one of their last four Premier League outings, though, having won four in a row before that to get December off to a flying start.
While West Ham may struggle to keep hold of their star man in the January transfer window, Arsenal seem unable to bring anyone in as they look to bolster their ranks in order to break into the top four.
Only loan signings will be available, according to manager Unai Emery, which means that the Spaniard will mostly have to make do with what he has got as he tries to bridge the three-point gap to Chelsea.
Gunners fans may be forgiven for having one eye on next weekend already as a showdown with main top-four rivals Chelsea looms at the Emirates, and the importance of taking momentum into that game with a win this weekend should not be understated.
Emery’s side did at least respond to their 5-1 drubbing at Anfield with a big win of their own against Fulham on New Year’s Day – running out 4-1 winners – although they were thankful for some wasteful Fulham finishing in that match as their defence once again looked shaky.
Indeed, Arsenal have now kept just one clean sheet in their last 14 Premier League games – at home to Huddersfield Town more than a month ago – and they are yet to keep a single one in their 10 away top-flight outings this season.
West Ham possible XI: Fabianski, Zabaleta, Diop, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Snodgrass, Noble, Rice, Anderson, Carroll, Arnautovic.
Arsenal possible XI: Leno, Bellerin, Koscielny, Mustafi, Monreal, Torreira, Xhaka, Iwobi, Ozil, Aubameyang, Lacazett.