Match Preview: Arsenal Look To Continue Improvement Against West Ham
Arsenal look to resume their impressive resurgence under Mikel Arteta’s charge as West Ham come to the Emirates for the first home match of the new season. The match pits two teams and two managers heading in completely opposite directions.
The Gunners are picking up where the closed off the last season after having dispatched hapless Fulham last weekend. For David Moyes’ side, they managed a brief respite following their opening weekend loss with a League Cup win versus Charlton.
WINNING BREEDS WINNING ATTITUDES
“The more difficult the victory, the greater the happiness in winning.” – Pele
Let’s admit it, last season for Arsenal was miserable. The fact it ended with silverware is small miracle unto itself. It was a difficult slog for players and for the supporters. But the curious thing about that nightmare of a season is if it hadn’t happened, we wouldn’t be here on what feels like the emergence of a newfound belief in Arsenal – at every level.
Had the Gunners muddled through the season with Emery and failed to get silverware but not looked as repugnant as they did for most of last year, we may never have given Mikel Arteta the chance to show us what we can be and we should be.
Going through all of that and everything associated with Emery’s (and Raul’s) tenure made the winning of the FA Cup and the launch into this season sweeter. Mikel Arteta has instilled a belief in Arsenal and the supporters that hasn’t been here for quite some time.
The fans are buying in and the players are buying in. And if the players are buying in it’s only time before winning breeds more winning and winning attitudes.
The staple of a good team is their belief that they can on any day, even bad ones. They know stepping on to a field they can win. They may not always, but they have a belief and self-confidence in them and their teammates and coaches that there are at least able to compete at any level.
Arteta has brought that Arsenal in spades.
It’s why matches like this one are important. It’s important for Arsenal to remain focused on the opposition and playing the way Arteta wants them to play. Its important to win this match because the Arsenal head into a tough pair of matches vs Leicester and Liverpool and they need the momentum and confidence that comes from winning to act as a catapault into those ties.
In 2014, when Arsenal won the FA Cup, the hope was it would propel the Gunners into a new era of success. However, it didn’t. While the Gunners won the 2015 and 2017 FA Cups it betrayed the underlying decline and malaise that was developing.
This time however, it feels different and this match can be just one more rung in the ladder of belief.
HAPLESS VISITORS STILL POSE A THREAT
It’s easy to feel good about the Arsenal right now. Every step we take, everything being done is building an air of positivity. It could also breed an air overconfidence.
During Emery’s tenure it was always matches like this, that the team failed to rise to the occasion for. It was the lesser teams that posed the Gunners problems. Whether it was breaking down a stubborn opponent or holding on to a lead long enough to walk away with three points, matches against lesser teams posed significant issues for Arsenal.
West Ham have two recognized centre-forwards in Sebastien Haller and Xande Silva. They aren’t very well put together and there are issues all over the squad.
Still we’d be foolish to overlook this match due to the state of the opponents. Adhering to the plans as laid out by Arteta will be essential to seeing this match through. Fail on that end and this is a poor opponent that you feel could nip something if not enough due diligence is paid to them.
HOW THE MATCH SHOULD PLAY OUT
Against Fulham, Arsenal went to work right away on their weakness, looking to take advantage of the speed of Aubameyang and Lacazette against the poor speed off Dennis Odoi and Tim Ream.
This week the tandem will be going up against the likes of Issa Dio and Angelo Ogbonna. Ogbonna is a better defender than what the Gunners attacking tandem saw last week but the West Ham back 4 is weak overall.
With Willian likely to be facing off against Aaron Cresswell, you can see the Brazilian having a similar influence on this match as he did last week against Fulham – all to Laca and Auba’s benefit.
And while we should be wary of an opponent like West Ham, Arsenal simply have too much talent in their side for West Ham to fix their issues now. In the end, the Gunners will handle the match and walk away with all three points.
Arsenal 2 – 0 West Ham
WHAT THE MANAGER SAYS (courtesy Arsenal.com)
Always a threat, we have a good example of the game we played against them last March. It was really difficult, we managed to win the game but we had a lot of problems, so we better be ready because after a defeat teams are always more dangerous.
ARSENAL RECORD VS OPPONENT (LEAGUE ONLY)
48M 31W 9D 8L
Referee: Michael Oliver
Assistants: Stuart Burt, Simon Bennett
Fourth official: Darren England
VAR: Chris Kavanagh
Assistant VAR: Neil Davies
MATCH FACTS (Courtesy BBC.co.uk)
- Arsenal are unbeaten in nine home league games this calendar year (W7, D2), scoring 21 goals and conceding seven.
- The Gunners have won only three of their past nine season-opening home league games (D1, L5).
- They have won their opening two league fixtures only once in the last 10 campaigns.
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored eight goals in six Arsenal appearances in all competitions, including each of the past four games.
- However, Aubameyang has scored just one league goal in five matches against the Hammers.
- Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta scored 27 goals in 174 Premier League appearances for Everton, all under David Moyes.
- Arsenal have won 10 of their past 11 home games against West Ham in all competitions.
- The Hammers have lost 31 Premier League matches versus Arsenal, more than against any other opponent.
- Five of West Ham’s eight Premier League wins in this fixture came away.