Arsenal host West Ham at the Emirates Stadium on Boxing Day as the English Premier League resumed after the World Cup break. The Gunners are top of the table after 12 wins in 14 matches so far while the Hammers are just a point above the relegation zone having lost nine of their 15 fixtures.
Mikel Arteta’s side have been sensational this season. In 14 league fixtures, they’ve dropped points just twice: a surprise 1-1 draw at Southampton and a 3-1 defeat at Man Utd. With the division’s second-best goalscoring record (2.4 scored per match) and the second-best defensive record (0.8 goals leaked per game), they’re worthy log leaders.
After their loss at Old Trafford, Arsenal won four in a row, including 3-1 at home to Spurs and 3-2 at home to Liverpool. They’ve taken 22 points from a possible 24 since that lone defeat, going into the break by winning 1-0 at Chelsea and 2-0 at Wolves. Arsenal have beaten Lyon and Marseille in mid-season friendlies before losing 2-0 to Juventus.
Arsenal Team News
Arsenal had Gabriel Saliba on France duty right until the World Cup final on 18 December so it isn’t clear if the will be given some time to recover or be thrown straight back into action. The rest of the international players should be available, including Ben White who returned home early from England duty.
Gabriel Jesus is out with a knee injury sustained playing for Brazil but countryman Gabriel Martinelli is available. Eddie Nketiah will lead the line here with top scorer Martin Odegaard in support. Emile Smith Rowe, Oleksandr Zinchenko, and Reiss Nelson could all miss out with this game coming too soon for them after injuries.
Arteta will be desperate to pick up where his side left off in November. They will look to make a good start and take an early lead against a West Ham side lacking in confidence.
Anything less than three points here would feel like a defeat and Arsenal won’t settle for a draw at any point.
West Ham Form
It’s been a tough season for David Moyes’ side so far, losing nine of 15 league matches with just three clean sheets. Surprisingly, only three teams have conceded fewer goals per match though (1.1). The bigger problem is that they have scored just 12 goals this term with their top scorers all of two strikes each.
Prior to the break, they lost five of their eight fixtures with two Europa League victories and a solitary league win at home to Bournemouth. That win is their only success is six Premier League fixtures with just four points accrued. West Ham have beaten Cambridge United and Udinese in mid-season friendlies before a 1-1 draw with Fulham prior to the restart.
West Ham Team News
West Ham had five players at the World Cup with Alphonse Areola and Nayef Aguerd going the distance. The latter has been struggling with a hamstring injury sustained whilst playing for Morocco and isn’t expected to feature in this match. Both Declan Rice and Lucas Paqueta exited at the quarter-final stage and are set to start right away for David Moyes’ side.
Max Cornet and Aaron Cresswell have been carrying knocks but both should be fit to return. Gianluca Scamacca has been carrying an ankle injury and is touch-and-go for this fixture.
West Ham Motivation
Considering their poor form going into the World Cup, the break came at a good time for Moyes’ side. They have had a chance to switch off from their bad results and also to do some famous fitness work favoured by the coach.
They would almost certainly bite your hand off for a draw away at the log leaders and they could play quite defensively with little interest in ball possession.
Arsenal have won 7 of their last 8 PL matches (D1)
Arsenal have kept 3 clean sheets in a row
Arsenal have won 9 home matches PL in a row, conceding in 8 of those (29 goals scored)
West Ham have lost 9 of their 15 PL matches this season
West Ham have failed to score in 7/15 PL matches this season (0.8 scored per game).
WHU are winless in 6 PL matches unbeaten against Arsenal (L5, D1) with 13 goals conceded
The mid-season break throws a spanner into the form guide and Gabriel Jesus’ injury is a blow for the hosts. A home win is still backed with a victory to zero looking like good value. A possible goalscorer in this match could be Eddie Nketiah.
Best Bet: Arsenal win to zero at 2.50
Multiplier Leg: Arsenal win/draw double chance + under 3.5 goals at 1.66
Goalscorer Tip: Eddie Nketiah anytime goalscorer – odds TBC