Arsenal take on West Ham in the early Saturday match this weekend. The reverse fixture saw West Ham come away 2-0 winners at the Emirates Stadium in Petr Cech’s Premier League debut for Arsenal. The goalkeeper suffered in that match, conceding two goals that he was at fault for.
Arsenal convincingly beat Watford last weekend with excellent displays from Mohamed Elneny, Mesut Özil, and Alex Iwobi. West Ham is one of the most difficult teams the Gunners will face the rest of the season and it is imperative they come away with a win to keep their slim title hopes alive. After this weekend’s match at Boleyn Ground, Arsenal have a string of four matches that they are heavy favorites in.
Arsene Wenger spoke to the press ahead of the match and revealed positive injury news. Both Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini have a chance of being available, while it appears that Cech is fit enough to start again. The Czech international featured on the bench last weekend as he fell just short of fitness.
The manager also revealed that Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky will feature for the Under-21’s side on Friday. Both players could return in two weeks if they come through a second game with the reserves unscathed. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is in training but is still seeking fitness, leaving Santi Cazorla the only senior player still out with an injury.
Here is Arsenal’s most likely starting lineup on Saturday.
Goalkeeper – Cech
Cech returns to the starting lineup after just missing out of the first eleven last weekend. David Ospina did well in his absence. However, Cech is a significantly better player.
Right Back – Bellerin
Hector Bellerin will hope to follow up on his excellent display from this past weekend. He scored a deflected goal and was defensively solid while energetic going forward. It’s hard to see Calum Chambers getting much time at right back the rest of the year, bar an injury.
Center Backs – Gabriel & Koscielny
Per Mertesacker will once again find a place for himself on the bench. Laurent Koscielny and Gabriel will continue in the heart of the defense. Wenger is likely brooding their relationship for next season.
Mertesacker admitted it’s been difficult watching from the sidelines but accepts that he’ll have to earn every start.
Left Back – Monreal
Nacho Monreal gets the start once again. He’s made a case as the best left back in the league this season. It’s hard to see Kieran Gibbs remaining at the club next season considering his age and inability to break into the first team.
Defensive Mid – Coquelin
Francis Coquelin will have to keep a close eye on Demetri Payet, but more importantly, will have to refrain from committing any fouls remotely close to the box.
Center Mid – Elneny
Elneny has played Ramsey out of the starting eleven this past month. His relationship with Coquelin has truly blossomed and Arsenal are a more balanced team with both of them on the pitch.
Attacking Mid – Özil
Özil was outstanding last weekend and it’s remarkable he didn’t pick up an assist considering Arsenal scored four times. Özil has a case to make as Player of the Year and is still only two assists away from breaking the Premier League single season assist record.
Wide Right – Alexis
Alexis continues to put in improved performances. He picked up a goal for the first time since January and added another assist to bring his tally to 10 this year. The Chilean spoke about how his injury and fear of re-injuring his hamstring has held him back this year.
Wide Left – Iwobi
Iwobi’s performances the past three games earned him a deserved raise this week. The 19-year old Nigerian international is a star for the future and has been a joy to watch since being inserted in the starting eleven. He has quickly become an important part of how Arsenal plays.
Striker – Welbeck
Danny Welbeck put in another energetic performance last weekend and continues to keep Olivier Giroud out of the starting lineup. The understanding between him and Iwobi is exciting to watch and is very encouraging for Arsenal’s attack next season.