Off the back of Friday’s big news, expect to see (and hear) a supercharged atmosphere at The Emirates Stadium this afternoon. Arsenal welcome a struggling West Ham side on this sunny Sunday, looking for a confidence building and injury-free three points, ahead of Atletico Madrid on Thursday night.
The Wenger Out brigade have now got what they wanted; so now all fans should reunite to send the big man off properly over the last few weeks of the season. The players should also step up their game, for one last big push to see Wenger off in the manner he deserves. I expect to see Wenger name a relatively strong XI today but anticipate the likes of Koscielny and Ramsey to only be on the bench, at best.
Calum Chambers, Rob Holding and Sead Kolasinac could all start in a back four alongside either Mertesacker or Mustafi. Ainsley Maitland-Niles may also get a start in the back four or even in midfield, should Wenger look to rotate some more. Jack Wilshere may return to the midfield, whilst Mo Elneny deserves to keep his starting place after his recent good form. Henrikh Mkhitaryan remains out through injury so expect to see Danny Welbeck starting one flank with maybe Aubameyang from the left, and potentially another sight of Lacazette up the middle. With Atletico in mind but pressure from Burnley in the league, Wenger is under relentless pressure to salvage something from this season; so if the likes of Ramsey, Ozil and Lacazette do see pitch time today, expect it to be no longer than a sixty minute stint. Another hot day on the cards, Wenger should rotate but maintain a strong core of experience, and may be even gives lads like Nelson and Nketiah some time.
What can we expect from West Ham? Now looking pretty safe, Moyes’ boys still lack confidence and the ability to dig in. Blighted by injuries still, the first team is not where it should be but I still expect to see the likes of Andy Carroll and Marko Arnautovic cause us some serious problems. Carroll always steps up his game to try and bully our defence…we best be prepared – it’s not exactly a surprise. That being said, West Ham’s defence is there to be got at. If Arsenal can ignite their quick, passing football from the off and not give West Ham a chance to gather momentum, then the result should be ours.
It will be tough – along with the heat, West Ham always are. They won’t hand anything over easy but the likes of Evra and Rice look way off the pace for the Premier League, and Joe Hart still looks to be below his levels of yester-years. Arsenal should look to attack, and attack consistently…do not provide any respite to an already rattled and inexperienced West Ham back line.
Prediction: 2-1 win, with Lacazette and Welbeck scoring the goals.