West Ham United v Arsenal
After their surprise victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford last weekend, West Ham entertain another of the leading Premiership clubs when Arsenal visit Upton Park on Saturday afternoon.
The Gunners have taken advantage of the champions stuttering form to open up a significant gap between themselves and Sir Alex Ferguson's faltering favourites and the wily Scot will be hoping that the Hammers will prove as difficult for Arsenal to overcome as they were for his struggling Red Devils.
Arsenal have been firing on all cylinders in recent weeks. 3-1 victories over Juventus and Manchester United were added to by a stirring comeback from two-down to beat Villa 3-2. Add to this the fact that Arsenal have the best away record in the top flight, having won five of their eight fixtures on the road, and it is easy to see why West Ham will have to be at their best to earn a result.
Arsenal have a very good record at Upton Park, having won four and lost just one of their last six Premiership visits and the Hammers solitary victory in the last 15 encounters in all competitions over the Gunners suggests that Arsene Wenger's team are something of a bogey side for the east Londoners.
After a tough start to the campaign though, Glenn Roeder has put a decent run of results together and with players like Joe Cole and Frederic Kanoute returning from injury, the Hammers can approach the game with confidence.
Arsenal do not seem to be made in the traditional mould of teams from the marble halls of Highbury. They have kept just five clean sheets all season, conceding 17 goals and used three goalkeepers so far.
Teams have a habit of scoring with virtually every shot on target against the Gunners, so West Ham will be attempting to create and make the most of their chances. Last weekend Villa scored with their first two efforts on target and Charlton recently scored four times from three accurate efforts thanks to an own goal by 'keeper Richard Wright.
However, no team has scored more goals per game than the Gunners and only one side has conceded more than the Hammers, so it may be a case of trying to keep the cosmopolitan Arsenal forward line quiet if Roeder's men are to get anything from the match.
Thierry Henry already has 15 Premiership goals to his name this season and Arsenal are the third most clinical side in front of goal - converting 14% of their chances - just behind Manchester United and Liverpool. No team has fired in more shots and no side can boast as good a shooting accuracy. That's why surreySPORTS can't see past an away win at 10/11.
David James, therefore, is likely to find himself a busy man on Saturday. The former Villa 'keeper was superb against United, keeping a clean sheet and making eight saves as he showed that he has recaptured his England form.
The odds on James ensuring the Gunners fire a blank for the first time in the league this season are slim while Henry is considered the most likely goalscorer where he would add to a tally that sees him favourite to win the golden boot at 4/5.
Arsene Wenger complains that the proliferation of derbies hinders a London club's chances of winning the title and with just a win apiece for both of these sides in four capital clashes, the most common outcome this season has been a draw. While the Hammers would probably settle for that, Arsenal need the three points to keep on Liverpool's coattails.
Match referee: M. Riley
The Leeds-based official is the strictest in the top-flight according to Opta Index this season. Mr Riley has averaged almost six cards per game and dismissed four players this term - including Tomas Repka on his Hammers' debut against Middlesbrough. He also sent off Jimmy Hasselbaink against Arsenal - a decision that was later overturned.
Referee's Name FoulsPenaltiesYellow CardsRed CardsAve Disc pointsM. Riley 271 3 32 4 57.14
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Match Result West Ham5/2Draw9/4Arsenal10/11Correct Score West Ham 1-08/1West Ham 2-014/1West Ham 2-112/1West Ham 3-040/1West Ham 3-133/1West Ham 3-233/1West Ham 4-0100/1West Ham 4-1100/1West Ham 4-2100/1Draw 0-08/1Draw 1-111/2Draw 2-214/1Draw 3-350/1Arsenal 1-06/1Arsenal 2-07/1Arsenal 2-17/1Arsenal 3-014/1Arsenal 3-114/1Arsenal 3-225/1Arsenal 4-040/1Arsenal 4-133/1Arsenal 4-250/1Arsenal 5-0100/1Arsenal 5-1100/1Double Result West Ham/West Ham11/2West Ham/Draw16/1West Ham/Arsenal25/1Draw/West Ham13/2Draw/Draw7/2Draw/Arsenal7/2Arsenal/West Ham33/1Arsenal/Draw16/1Arsenal/Arsenal9/4First Goalscorer P Di Canio13/2F Kanoute13/2J Defoe13/2T Camara10/1D Hutchison12/1J Cole16/1T Sinclair16/1M Carrick20/1Courtois25/1S Moncur28/1A Mccann33/1S Schmemel40/1C Dailly50/1N Winterburn50/1S Minto50/1S Potts50/1T Repka50/1H Foxe50/1No Goalscorer8/1T Henry7/2S Wiltord5/1N Kanu11/2D Bergkamp13/2F Ljungberg11/1R Pires11/1J Inomoto20/1Edu20/1R Parlour20/1G V Bronckhorst20/1P Vieira20/1Lauren33/1A Cole33/1G Grimandi40/1M Keown40/1S Campbell40/1E Tavlaridis40/1O Luzhny50/1M Upson50/1I Stepanovs50/1
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