Five things to look out for when West Ham United travel to Arsenal on Saturday
1. West Ham can pull clear of the bottom three
While winning away at Arsenal will by no means be a simple task, the motivation for West Ham United to do just that is great.
Not only would the Hammers make it back-to-back Premier League victories for the second time this season, but it could also see David Moyes’ men pull clear of the bottom three.
While the Irons travel to Emirates Stadium, the teams around them also face difficult looking away matches.
Brighton & Hove Albion, who start the weekend one point and one place above West Ham, travel to sixth-place Wolverhampton Wanderers, while Watford, who sit below the Hammers on goal difference after beating Liverpool last time out, make the trip to Crystal Palace, with both games kicking-off at 3pm on Saturday.
AFC Bournemouth, who sit 18th, but level on points with the Irons, take on the wounded Reds at Anfield on Saturday lunchtime. Aston Villa, who did not contest a Premier League game at the weekend, go to King Power Stadium to take on third-place Leicester City on Monday evening. Finally, bottom side Norwich City travel to Sheffield United on Saturday afternoon.
2. High-flying Haller
Consider these two statements:
1. No player in the Premier League has won more aerial battles than West Ham United’s Sebastien Haller this season.
2. No team in the Premier League has won fewer aerial battles than Arsenal this season.
Fresh from winning no fewer than 14 aerial challenges in last weekend's 3-1 win over Southampton - including two that led to West Ham's second and third goals - Haller will no doubt add to his league-leading tally of 190 at Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal, meanwhile, have conceded more goals from set plays (12), than any other Premier League club, bar Aston Villa (14).
3. Another major test for Ngakia
In March 2019, Jeremy Ngakia was lining up at left-back in front of 384 supporters in West Ham United’s Premier League 2 Division 1 fixture with Arsenal at Borehamwood FC’s Meadow Park .
A year on, the teenager is set to line up at right-back in front of 60,000 supporters at Emirates Stadium in West Ham United’s Premier League fixture with Arsenal.
The calm and composed youngster has impressed on his three first-team appearances to date, home and away to Liverpool and in Saturday’s 3-1 win over Southampton at London Stadium.
And the south London-born defender may be given another chance to do so when West Ham make the short trip to face the Gunners this Saturday.
After facing Divock Origi, Sadio Mane and Sofiane Boufal, Ngakia’s next test could see him up against Arsenal’s leading scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
4. Misfiring Gunners?
Speaking of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal could be involved in a relegation battle were it not for the sharp-shooting Gabonese forward.
The former Borussia Dortmund man has netted 17 of the north London club’s 39 Premier League goals, adding three UEFA Europa League strikes to take his tally to 20 for the season and 61 in just 96 appearances for the north London club overall.
Despite the 30-year-old’s heroics, with eleven games to play, Arsenal are almost certain to register their lowest league goals tally since scoring 49 under Scottish manager Bruce Rioch 24 years ago.
Even then, Arsenal conceded just 32 times in 1995/96 and finished fifth. This time around, the Gunners have already conceded 36 and, unless the likes of Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers slip up, a top-six finish looks to be beyond them.
5. The spirit of 2007
In April 2007, West Ham United visited Emirates Stadium in need of points to boost their hopes of securing Premier League safety.
Thanks to Bobby Zamora’s opportunistic winner and Robert Green’s heroics in goal, the Hammers secured an unlikely 1-0 victory, with Gunners manager Arsene Wenger claiming afterwards his side ‘should have scored ten’.
The win took West Ham to within two points of fourth-from-bottom Charlton Athletic and, despite losing their next two matches to Sheffield United and Chelsea, Alan Curbishley’s men won their final four games to stay up on the final day with a 1-0 victory at champions Manchester United.
Thirteen years on and the situation, while not quite as grave, requires a similar outcome, and captain Mark Noble, who played that afternoon, will no doubt call on his teammates to be inspired by the spirit of 2007.