David Moyes sticks with the same West Ham sided that played well for much of their 3-0 defeat at Old Trafford last weekend, though Mohammed Kudus and Ben Johnson may switch wings.
Mikel Arteta makes two changes from the Liverpool game. Jakub Kiwior comes in for the unavailable Oleksandr Zinchenko at left-back. And Jorginho, the player of the match against Liverpool, is replaced by Leandro Trossard. A different challenge means a different attacking balance: either Trossard or Kai Havertz will take Jorginho’s position in midfield, with the other playing up front.
West Ham (possible 4-2-3-1) Areola; Coufal, Zouma, Aguerd, Emerson; Alvarez, Soucek; Kudus, Ward-Prowse, Johnson; Bowen.
Substitutes: Fabianski, Cresswell, Mavropanos, Ogbonna, Scarles, Phillips, Cornet, Ings, Mubama.
Arsenal (possible 4-1-2-3) Raya; White, Saliba, Gabriel, Kiwior; Rice; Odegaard, Havertz; Saka, Trossard, Martinelli.
Substitutes: Ramsdale, Soares, Walters, Jorginho, Elneny, Bandeira, Nwaneri, Nketiah, Nelson.
Referee Craig Pawson.
John Part is one of the best darts commentators around, and particularly brilliant at describing the mental challenges of a sport with a unique ebb and flow. One of his favourite phrases is, “A break is only a break if you hold”. For the grandmothers reading this who were never taught to suck eggs, this means that the grand gesture of breaking your opponent’s throw counts for nothing unless you hold in the next leg.
The point of this tangential, slightly indulgent, will-you-get-to-the-point-man introduction is that Arsenal need to holdy today. Well, they need to win, which is where the analogy gets a bit confusing. In title-race terms, last weekend’s stirring win over Liverpool was a break of throw, but it will mean very little if they back it up with victory at West Ham today. It’s a tough task, as Arsenal know all too well from last season, but nobody ever won a league title by just winning the easy games.
There’s another reason Arsenal will be desperate to win today:
so that they can goad the celebration police by posing for a squad photo on the pitch, with Martin Odegaard snapping away on an Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV revenge. West Ham won the return fixture 2-0 just after Christmas, the first of three consecutive defeats that left Arsenal briefly holding the Premier League Crisis Baton™. As they have recovered, so West Ham have regressed beyond the mean: no wins in six, an FA Cup exit and a continuing referendum on whether David Moyes’ results are enough to justify the reactive style of play.
No team in the Premier League does more with less. West Ham have already won four games this season with a possession percentage in the 20s: Brighton, Chelsea, Spurs and Arsenal. If they make it five, or even if they draw, Arsenal will be back on the fringes of the title race.
Kick off 2pm