Arsenal vs West Ham Predicted XI: Hold On to Top Spot

Arsenal's Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (R) celebrates scoring their third goal with Arsenal's Brazilian midfielder Willian (L) during the English Premier League football match between Fulham and Arsenal at Craven Cottage in London on September 12, 2020. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo by BEN STANSALL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Arsenal's Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (R) celebrates scoring their third goal with Arsenal's Brazilian midfielder Willian (L) during the English Premier League football match between Fulham and Arsenal at Craven Cottage in London on September 12, 2020. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo by BEN STANSALL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) /
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https://twitter.com/PainInThArsenal/status/1305982724876849152

Fresh off the back of the best piece of transfer business Arsenal will do this summer, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will take his place on the throne he’s carved for himself on the left side of the front three. Just 18 goals shy of reaching the 100 club, he has netted once before against the Hammers in his five matches, grabbing a further two assists.

Captain fantastic netting a goal or two would be the icing on the cake of a memorable week in the club’s history.

I love Eddie Nketiah, I really do, but he doesn’t possess the physical frame that Alexandre Lacazette does, one that will come in handy against Issa Diop and Angelo Ogbonna. Besides, the Frenchman is such a confidence player, one that thrives when he’s hitting the back of the net and whose head drops massively when he’s down in the doldrums.

He can’t be left out for fear of crushing his spirit. Ensuring he keeps this level of confidence throughout the season could be more crucial to Arsenal than we think. If he’s scoring, don’t drop him. When he’s on it, he’s on it.

Last up, another spot where there is one player we’d love to see start, but ultimately won’t. If Nicolas Pepe hadn’t lost his place to Willian before Fulham, he definitely has now. A man-of-the-match display from our new arrival was impossible to overlook, so it’d be a huge surprise if the Brazilian is dropped in favour of the club record signing.

Willian started his Arsenal career off with a bang
Arsenal’s Brazilian midfielder Willian (Photo by PAUL CHILDS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) /

Expect to see equal measures of Willian floating across the front of the West Ham back four with Bellerin providing the width, just as much as the 32-year-old hugging the touchline and Bellerin moving infield to allow Ceballos with the space to roam into in the number ten slot. That diversity in attack is crucial.

What could alter in the lineup is whether Arteta chooses to rest players for next week’s Carabao Cup clash with Leicester and the following trip to Liverpool. A case can be made for that, but so soon into the season it’s vital to maintain that winning mentality for as long as possible, even if that means we see less of Pepe.

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Fighting for a starting berth should be enough motivation for us to see the best out of the Ivorian, who will still have an invaluable role to play over the course of 2020/21.