West Ham United continue their 2020/21 Premier League campaign with their shortest short trip of the season to Arsenal on Saturday evening.
The Hammers visited Emirates Stadium as recently as 7 March, when they were unfortunate to end up losing 1-0, despite creating a host of clear chances to score against the Gunners. The game was the last the Irons played before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the temporary halt of football.
The fixture will be shown live in the UK by Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Premier League, with coverage starting 15 minutes before kick-off at 7.45pm, and across the world by the Premier League’s international broadcast partners.
Both teams will sport the No Room For Racism message on their shirts, and West Ham manager David Moyes has confirmed his players will kneel in support of the Black Lives Matter social justice campaign. Before kick-off, fans will also hear the new Premier League anthem.
VAR has also changed, with on-field referees expected to use their pitchside screens far more often, while there are also some alterations to laws around encroachment at penalty kicks.
David Moyes is hopeful both Mark Noble and Jack Wilshere will be fit and available.
Captain Noble missed Tuesday’s Carabao Cup second-round win over Charlton Athletic and sat out Friday’s training session with a toe injury but, following treatment, the manager believes he will be ready for this weekend’s London derby at Emirates Stadium.
Meanwhile, Wilshere has had an ankle problem assessed and returned to the training pitch himself on Friday, raising the prospect of him facing the club where he came through the ranks and played over 200 times.
The manager also confirmed Robert Snodgrass is not yet fit enough to start in the Premier League after the Scot returned to action for the first time since February in the midweek win over Charlton.
Arsenal have a number of confirmed absentees and injury doubts ahead of Saturday’s game.
Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka remains a doubt after picking up an ankle injury in the 3-0 win at Fulham last weekend, while defender David Luiz has a neck problem suffered in the Community Shield victory against Liverpool on August 29.
Spanish defender Pablo Mari has been sidelined with an ankle injury since March and is still out, while Greek centre-back Sokratis has a calf strain and is also unavailable.
Another defender who definitely will not feature is Callum Chambers, who is still recovering from knee surgery. Shkodran Mustafi is yet another defender who is definitely out of Saturday’s game. He has a hamstring injury.
The opposition – Arsenal
Despite those injury problems, and the ongoing saga of Mesut Ozil, Arsenal are enjoying something of a renaissance under Mikel Arteta.
The former Gunners midfielder replaced fellow countryman Unai Emery last December and has already won two trophies - the FA Cup and Community Shield.
Arsenal have won 18 and lost just six of Arteta's first 30 games in charge and will now seek to re-establish themselves as a top-four club - a situation that became almost a given during Arsene Wenger's 20-plus seasons in charge.
While Arsenal spent relatively little in the summer, bringing in only Braziilan defender Gabriel from Lille for a sizeable fee, it is perhaps the fact that strikers Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette remained at Emirates Stadium.
The north Londoners remain one of English football's top clubs and with a worldwide fanbase behind them, it would come as no surprise to anyone to see them mount a challenge for a return to the UEFA Champions League come the season's end.
West Ham United and Arsenal have met 181 times down the years, if you include war-time fixtures.
In the Football League and Premier League, the overall head-to-head stands at played 124, West Ham wins 29, Arsenal wins 61, draws 34.
So, in short, the Gunners have had the edge over their London rivals down the years!
However, the highest-profile match between the two came in the 1980 FA Cup final, when Trevor Brooking scored the only goal to secure a 1-0 win for John Lyall's Irons at Wembley.
While Arsenal have won more often than not in recent Premier League meetings, doing the double last season, West Ham have had their moments, winning 2-0 at the Emirates in the Premier League in August 2015, and scoring a 1-0 victory over the Gunners at London Stadium in January 2019 courtesy of Declan Rice's first senior goal.
Referee: Michael Oliver
Assistant Referees: Stuart Burt & Simon Bennett
Fourth Official: Darren England
VAR: Chris Kavanagh
Assistant VAR: Neil Davies
Born in Ashington, Northumberland in February 1985, Michael Oliver has been a member of the Select Group of Referees since August 2010, when he was just 25.
Oliver started refereeing in the Northern Premier League from 2003 to 2005 before quickly working his way up through the National League and EFL to reach the Premier League in January 2010.
The 35-year-old refereed the 2007 Conference National and 2009 League One Play-Off finals and controlled the 2016 EFL Cup final and 2018 FA Cup final – all at Wembley Stadium.
Oliver was appointed to the FIFA List in 2012 and has since refereed competitive and friendly international, UEFA Champions League and Europa League fixtures.
He has refereed West Ham United on 25 occasions, including the penultimate game at the Boleyn Ground against Swansea City in May 2016, and most-recently the 1-1 Premier League draw with Aston Villa at London Stadium on the final day of last season.