Tactically speaking - Arsenal

Tactically speaking

West Ham United travel to the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday evening, hoping to achieve a victory over Arsenal that would all but secure their Barclays Premier League safety.

The Gunners come into the game after a draining FA Cup semi-final penalty shootout win over Wigan Athletic on Saturday, while the Hammers should be fresh following a free weekend.

In conjunction with WhoScored.com, the Official Website takes a closer look at how the game might unfold tactically, while also concentrating on the contribution made by West Ham right-back Guy Demel.

West Ham United

Guy Demel

Ahead of West Ham's trip across London to Arsenal, football statistics website WhoScored.com have previewed the fixture.

A second half Theo Walcott brace overturned Carlton Cole's opener when the two teams met at the Boleyn Ground in December, before a late Lukas Podolski strike confirmed the three points for Arsenal in their win over the Hammers.

A well-rested West Ham will be out for revenge when they travel to the Emirates in midweek, hoping to catch out an Arsenal side that will be tired from their FA Cup semi-final excursions against Wigan.

Despite the win, the Gunners' league form in recent weeks has been far from convincing, with the 3-0 defeat to Everton last time out, followed by the Toffees' 1-0 win over Sunderland at the weekend leaving their Champions League hopes hanging in the balance.

Arsenal have taken just five points from their last 15 available and West Ham will be looking to add to their poor run of form when the two sides meet.

Right-back Guy Demel, who has made 27 Barclays Premier League starts and two substitute appearances this season, is expected to play a pivotal role for the east London side and will be keen to impress after netting his first goal for the Club last time out against Liverpool.

Demel's key strength of 'concentration' and his ability in the air, having won 33 out of 54 aerial duals this season, will be crucial if West Ham are to keep a clean sheet on Tuesday night.

The 32-year-old has also developed a WhoScored.com strength of 'dribbling' as a result of his ability to carry possession forward and he will be expected to use this strength to provide a further offensive outlet for his side.

Should he be able to break forward and reach the final third, Demel can pick out a team-mate from wide as a means of hurting Arsenal.

The quality in his delivery has seen Demel gain a statistically calculated strength of 'crossing' while, in addition, Demel has completed 71% of his passes this season and if he can pick out striker Andy Carroll in the opposition penalty area, West Ham will likely trouble the Gunners' backline. Carroll has developed a strength of 'aerial duels' this season and his physicality will be a handful for the Arsenal defence, allowing him to bring others into play.

However, this hinges on the crossing ability of Demel, among others, though he has proven in the past that he can be a threat from deep-lying positions on the flank. The problems on the left side of Arsenal's defence were capitalised upon by Everton when they travelled to Goodison Park and West Ham will enter the encounter in north London confident that they too can exploit this area.

*WhoScored.com is a website and one of the fastest growing in the sports industry, specialising in the in-depth analysis of detailed football data. Follow @WhoScored on Twitter.


Possible starting XI


Sagna  Mertesacker  Vermaelen  Gibbs

Arteta  Ramsey

Oxlade-Chamberlain  Cazorla  Podolski


Arsenal have won their last seven matches against West Ham United in all competitions, but the Gunners will need to overcome fatigue, injuries and indifferent form if they are to extend that record on Tuesday evening.

Arsene Wenger's side have won just one of their previous five Barclays Premier League matches and needed extra-time and penalties to get past Championship team Wigan Athletic in Saturday's FA Cup with Budweiser semi-final at Wembley.

That said, the north London club are unbeaten in their last 15 home league matches dating back to the opening day of the 2013/14 season, when they lost 3-1 to Aston Villa at the Emirates.

Wenger will definitely be without injured midfielders Mesut Ozil, Jack Wilshere and Abou Diaby, as well as forward Theo Walcott and suspended French midfielder Mathieu Flamini, while England midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (groin), left-back Nacho Monreal (dead leg) and Germany forward Lukas Podolski (leg) are doubts.

Whoever is fit, Arsenal will almost certainly line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation and play the intricate passing game that has served them well under Wenger over the past 18 years.

As has become their trademark, Arsenal keep possession and probe for openings with one-twos and through balls, rather than throwing crosses into the opposition penalty area. It should therefore come as no surprise that they enjoy 56 per cent of possession on average and complete 86 per cent of their passes.

That said, the Gunners' dominating centre-back Per Mertesacker and tall central striker Olivier Giroud have given them an aerial edge that perhaps they have not possessed in recent seasons.

Personnel-wise, as stated above, Wenger is lacking his usual options in many areas.

Despite Lukasz Fabianski's FA Cup heroics, he will be replaced by fellow Pole Wojciech Szczesny in goal on Tuesday. The latter has enjoyed a solid season and is strong all-round goalkeeper who is not afraid to come for high balls into his penalty area.

In defence, Bacary Sagna is strong and attack-minded at right-back, while Kieran Gibbs is arguably quicker and more athletic at left-back. Both like to bring the ball forward and overlap their midfielders to give options on the flanks.

In the centre Mertesacker, who scored against Wigan, will be partnered by either Thomas Vermaelen or Laurent Koscielny, but the latter has been struggling with a calf problem. Whoever plays will see plenty of the ball, too, as Mertesacker and Koscielny possess the two best pass-completion percentages in the squad.

Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey - if he recovers from his Wembley exertions so shortly after returning from three months with a groin injury - will play as the two deep-lying midfielders. The pair are the most prolific tacklers in the Arsenal squad.

Supporting Giroud will be wide attackers Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski and central playmaker Santi Cazorla. Oxlade-Chamberlain is a powerful runner when in possession and is not afraid to let fly from distance, while Podolski is strong, good in the air and can shoot with power with his left foot from any range.

Cazorla is the typical Arsenal player - short in stature, technically gifted, mobile and elusive in and out of possession.

Other options in that area include Sweden veteran Kim Kallstrom and Czech star Tomas Rosicky, who has enjoyed a superb season and was rested for Saturday's FA Cup semi-final.

Up front, Giroud provides a focal point to the attack with his strength and work-rate, while his finishing is also decent. The France international has scored a team-best 13 goals this season from 97 shots on goal and also provided seven assists.

The back-up centre forward is the tall young Frenchman Yaya Sanogo, who played the full 120 minutes against Wigan on Saturday.