Arsenal find themselves pitted against a vulnerable West Ham.
The Gunners must show a renewed ruthlessness against a side in serious trouble this campaign. Ask any West Ham fan and they will tell you that their club is in a dire situation. With a strained relationship between the supporters and the owners, they’re at a crossroads. They’ve got Arsenal next.
Their move to the non-football-specific London Stadium has not panned out the way many fans had hoped. Furthermore, the recent sale of exciting youth prospect Grady Diangana to West Brom may very well be the final piece in their relegation puzzle.
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Coming off the back of an impressive and comprehensive victory over Fulham, Arsenal are in a position to take advantage of West Ham’s inauspicious situation. In the past the Gunners have been characterized as having a soft touch and being far too generous to sub-par opposition. Under newly titled first-team manager Arteta, this perception must change. This Saturday, Arteta’s side have an opportunity to turn the Irons into cannon fodder.
In the last two meetings against West Ham, the Gunners were unable to fully assert their dominance – scraping by with a 1-0 win when the two teams met back in March. This was by no means a resolute or controlled victory by the Gunners. Arteta’s men gave up fourteen shots to West Ham, nine of which were on target and seven of those came from inside the box. Arsenal on the other hand only mustered two shots on frame with Bernd Leno being the much busier of the two keepers, making six saves.
The goal that eventual sealed the three points in favor of Arsenal was an oddly worked move that materialized after a deflected shot from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Mesut Ozil provided Alexandre Lacazette with a cushioned header which the Frenchman was able to tuck home. After a long VAR deliberation, Lacazette was awarded the goal on a razor sharp decision. It’s important to point out the extremely fine margins which claimed victory, because this newly constructed side needs to emphatically widen the gap in this upcoming clash.
The reverse fixture last season wasn’t much better. Although Arsenal ran out 3-1 winners at the London Stadium, it was certainly a nervy display until the latter stages of the game. Besides a nine-minute flurry of goals that came just around the hour mark, Arsenal looked very pedestrian in the match. The individual brilliance of Gabriel Martinelli and Nicolas Pepe turned the odds their favor on that occasion, but the result could’ve easily gone awry.
This new look Arsenal must turn the proverbial screw and show a more ruthless side of themselves against West Ham this time around. Coming from Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, Mikel Arteta will know full well the benefits that big wins can have on a team’s confidence. One of the major points of concern that fans had towards Arsenal last season was the inability to deal with perceived ‘lesser opposition’.
In order to take the next step and carve out a place for themselves in the top four, Arsenal will have to become flat-track bullies once more, feasting on lower opposition when the opportunity presents itself.
Arteta has already added the steel and tactical nous needed for beating direct rivals, now the players most go out and display the hardened mindset to really put a team to the sword. With big fish like Liverpool and Manchester City on the horizon, this match against West Ham is a major opportunity for to flex our newly found muscle.