Preview: West Ham v Arsenal

West Ham will be desperate to end their poor run of form and record a much-needed win when they host Arsenal at the London Stadium on Saturday.

Premier League
3 December 2016
Matchday 14
Kick-off: 01:30 (HKT)

Venue: London Stadium

Referee: C. Pawson
Assistants: H.Lennard, I. Hussin
Fourth official: L. Mason

Head-to-head summary:

TEAM                     MATCHES  WIN   DRAW   LOSS
West Ham                     117   28     33    56
Arsenal                      117   56     33    28

Previous encounter:

West Ham 3-3 Arsenal 09/04/16 (Premier League)

West Ham goalscorers: A. Carroll (44′, 45′, 52′)
Arsenal goalscorers: M. Ozil (18′), A. Sanchez (35′), L. Koscielny (70′)

Players to watch:

Guinness World Record holder Theo Walcott may just well be the man to watch this weekend. The 27-year-old, who has netted nine goals in 15 outings in all competitions this term, has previously scored five times against the Hammers – the most against any opponent he has faced.

Apart from his mazy runs, and fierce shooting ability, Walcott now holds the record for the “highest altitude football dropped and controlled” after accepting the footballing challenge this week.

Watch @TheoWalcott set a new Guinness World Record for @betfair controlling a ball from 34m high #Arsenal #Gunners

A video posted by Arsenal Official (@arsenal) on

It’s too early to think of a fairytale Andy Carroll comeback, following his hat-trick against the Gunners the last time these two sides played, so the man to watch this Saturday is young striker Ashley Fletcher.

The 21-year-old, who opened his account for the club in the 4-1 EFL loss to his former side, Manchester United on Wednesday, is expected to continue to run the line in the absence of more senior strikers, and will certainly want to stake his claim for a permanent place in the side by weighing in with some more goals.

Team form and manager quotes:

The Hammers have endured a difficult season so far, and come into this match in 16th place, with just three wins from their opening 13 games.

It is safe to say that Slaven Bilic could never have imagined such a tough start to his second campaign in charge of the club after strengthening heavily in the off-season.

West Ham have not won in their last five matches in all competitions, although they showed glimpses of their potential when picking up their last win – A 2-1 defeat of Chelsea in October.

They come into this game after being knocked out of the EFL Cup by Manchester United after drawing with the Jose Mourinho-coached side last Sunday.

That feeling. Disappointing result, tough games coming up. #COYI

A photo posted by West Ham United (@whufc_official) on

Arsenal, by contrast, have lost just once all season, on the opening day to Liverpool, before being eliminated from the EFL Cup by Southampton on Wednesday.

They are in fourth spot in the Premier League, with eight wins, four draws and one loss from their 13 games played.

Ahead of the match, Arsene Wenger revealed: “We have Mo Elneny who came out of our last game with sickness – I will test him today [Friday].”

On Mathieu Debuchy, he added: “It’s a severe hamstring injury. Six weeks, I think. It’s frustrating for me, but even more for him because he fights very hard. He is a guy who has an exceptional attitude and is very serious. Overall, I think that he is absolutely disappointed, but he is as well a fighter and he will fight to come back.”

And on the state of Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck, he added: “I thought that Giroud might be available for Saturday, but he might not be available for tomorrow. Certainly for Tuesday [in Basel], he will be available.

“It’s great, but he (Welbeck) is at least four weeks away from playing a game.”

Bilic, meanwhile, said: “We have a tough game on Saturday and we have a couple of players who came off injured (against Manchester United), but we wanted to preserve players for then and Dimitri Payet also.

“It’s unbelievable that when we get a couple of injuries like the ones we got today (after them all season) and it’s very tough for us now.”

Team news:

Wenger must do without Mathieu Debuchy (hamstring), Santi Cazorla (calf) and Danny Welbeck (knee) as Olivier Giroud (groin) and Mohamed Elneny (illness) face late fitness tests.

Bilic is missing Aaron Cresswell (groin), Michail Antonio (groin) and Diafra Sakho (hamstring), but Gokhan Tore (thigh) is expected to be fit, while Andy Carroll is set to be included in the squad after recovering from his injury lay-off from a knee injury.

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