Another London derby beckons for the Hammers, our second din a week after our creditable victory over Queens Park Rangers on Monday night. But you get the impression that Arsenal will provide much sterner opposition in what we consider to be our toughest Premier League fixture, so far, of the season. Will the Hammer prevail in front of a television audience, in this late afternoon kick-off? Only time will tell.
Ahead of our latest London derby, the Arsenal boss, Arsene Wenger has reacted to a question relating to facing Andy Carroll and this is what the Gunners boss had to say,
‘Carroll has the quality and that will come out with time. We expect Carroll to be at his best – it is down to us to deal with that.’
‘We can only focus on our own performance and be at our best. I rate Carroll, and don’t think we have seen the best of him until now.
‘He started very well, then he had to deal with a high level of expectation with a massive transfer on his shoulders [to Liverpool], going to an historic club where a lot was expected of him. Maybe it was a bit too early for him.
‘Since I have seen him at West Ham, he looks back to the Carroll we have seen at Newcastle, that means with less pressure.’
Let`s hope Andy can do a number on the Arsenal this Saturday evening.
West Ham Team News:
Sam Allardyce has to decide whether Andy Carroll will start with hi son loan striker having made his comeback, from injury, as a substitute at Loftus Road on Monday night.
Against Queens Park Rangers, both Winston Reid and Joey O`Brien picked up injuries. The word on the street is that the former will play against Arsenal but that the latter will miss out.
Still not available for selection though is Jack Collison who remains troubled by his knee problem.
Yossi Benayoun may also be hoping for a starting place against the club he played for, whilst on loan from Chelsea, last season.
Player to watch: Andy Carroll
Came on as a late substitute at Loftus Road and all Hammer supporters will be hoping that the on-loan striker can start against Arsenal. His power and raw energy just might be what we need to unsettle an Arsenal defence that looked far from water-tight last time out against Chelsea.
Arsenal Team News:
Arsene Wenger had to watch on as two more of his established stars moved on during the summer, with Van Persie and Song opting for pastures anew. But the Frenchman has been active in the transfer market bring in Giroud, Cazorla and Podolski.
For this fixture Arsene will be hoping to welcome back his centre back, Per Mertesacker with the German having shaken off a virus. But Arsenal will be without the services of their first choice keeper, Wojciech Szczesny and Abou Diaby.
Jack Wilshere, who has been absent for over a year, is still fighting his way back to fitness but has appeared for the reserve side recently.
Player to watch: Mikel Arteta
An unsung hero but one who Arsene Wenger readily snapped up when Fabregas moved on just over a year ago.
Match Facts & Stats
The omens do not look good for West Ham with Arsenal having won six and drawn two of the last eight meetings between the two clubs. Throw into the mix the fact that we`ve not scored against Arsenal in our last three meetings and the size of the task ahead of us becomes apparent.
Taking charge of this fixture will be Phil Dowd, ably assisted (we hope) by his two assistants S. Ledger and M. McDonough and with Andre Marriner as the fourth official.
Previously I`ve mentioned that it is important to pick up results at home, thereby alleviating the pressure faced on the road. But to take three points off of Arsenal might be a big ask, anyone else predicting a draw?
Next up for the Hammers in the Premier League, after the international break, is a home fixture against a side we encountered last season, in the Championship, Southampton.