How Can Arsenal See Off A Much Improved West Ham?
Arsenal return to league play with a visit to the London Stadium to taken on surprise of the season, West Ham United. Arsenal look to continue to build on a solid week, while their hosts have hopes of holding of the Gunners and remaining in touch of qualifying for Europe.
The question about our hosts is whether they are truly a much-improved side under David Moyes or are the benefiting from the overall poor quality on display across the league. The truth probably lies somewhere in between.
Last time the two sides met in September, Arsenal rolled out winners. However, since that run West Ham have been a relatively consistent performing side, while the Gunners have had their poor run along with intermittent fits of success.
West Ham are coming off a lackluster loss to Manchester United whereas Arsenal have had a week symbolic of their season, an excellent win against cross-town rivals Tottenham and then squeaking into the next round of the Europa League, with an uninspiring second leg loss to Olympiakos.
What We Know About West Ham
Tactically know that West Ham are a traditional counter-attacking side. David Moyes side are more than happy cede possession to their opponents and then hit them with a speedy counter.
The hosts have currently have a 17 Pass Allowed Per Defensive Action (PPDA). This suggests one of two things either they rarely press form the front or their press is unsuccessful. They prefer to stretch the pitch vertically and force their opponents into making long, direct passes.
They concede on average a xG per 90 of 1.04 with xG shot conceded of 0.09. Per 90 they will concede 11.36 shots per game and 2.00 clear shots per game (defender between attacker and goalkeeper). They also let their opposition have the ball alot with the average passing success rate for the opposition being 83%
They’ve been good defensively this season because they do everything right. They concede fewer shots than the average, what they do concede is typically of a low quality shoot and they will get men between the shooter and the goal.
When they do press they engage the front 4 in the attack with 6 sitting deep to pick up the long ball and the midfielders look to create a scenario where their defensive numbers overload the opposition.
Attacking wise, West Ham are as we mentioned, a pure counter attacking side. When they do counter attack, its through Antonio who tends to move across to the left, hoping to drag a center back with him. Opening up the space he then tends to look for runners like Soucek or Rice and hit them with a cross. If he isn’t cross the ball, he’s looking for a crack back to someone around the edge of the box.
Statistically, West Ham have been at negative 10 game rollings xGa for 3 games this season. They’ve really put up pretty decent numbers, even though the last few weeks has seen them fade they aren’t a team that takes a lot of shots but the shots they have taken are high quality ones. They get few clear shots (shots with a defender between shooter and keeper), but the shots they are taking are high quality which suggests they are getting in close and shooting in a crowded box.
Attacking West Ham
One of the things that sticks out about West Ham is how deep they like to sit. They are content sitting deep in their own box. They want to invite lofted balls into the box and win them and then start their transition. However, their deep defensive set up also has draw backs. Against Leeds for instance their deep set up invited late runners into the box that nearly saw Bielsa’s side take an early lead.
Ideally if you want to get at West Ham, Arsenal could opt to sit the wide man high up and have the center forward move wide and try and force West Ham to commit their full backs to either push up or stay back and which would give the full backs time and space to help in the build up. This would have the net effect of forcing West Ham to drop back or commit to the full backs which then leaves space behind.
As Arsenal attack they want to have one of either Tierney, or Smith Rowe on the left or Pepe on the right attack the end line and look for someone in the middle of the box. Think back to the Odegaard equalizer against Spurs. It’s something that we’re clearly trying to do and West Ham’s desire/comfortability of sitting deep leaves them susceptible to this.
How this match plays out is anyone’s guess. West Ham weren’t exactly good against Manchester United this past weekend. We’re not exactly well rested after our lack luster display against Olympiakos. West Ham are going to want to show that last week was more an anomaly rather than then a trend and Arsenal are going to want to come out showing that the win against Tottenham was a sign that they are ready to close out the season on a high note.
We can hope that it won’t be a drab affair and that both teams will look to offer something of value because a lot is at stake for each team. Let’s hope we’re not disappointed
What the Manager Says (courtesy Arsenal.com)
“They started the season with some doubts but I know what David is capable of doing. He gets the group together, they’re working really hard for each other, they’ve recruited really well and you can start to see the things that David has done.
“Obviously they have a little bit more time during the week to prepare football matches and training, and I think they’ve been in great form and they’re a really dangerous team.”
Arsenal Record vs Opponent (League Only)
49P 32W 8L 9D
West Ham WWLWL
Average Goals For
Arsenal 1.36 (away)
West Ham 1.64 (home)
Average Goals Conceded
Arsenal 1.00 (away)
West Ham 1.07 (home)
Average xG (all competitions)
Arsenal 1.51 (opponents avg 1.24)
West Ham 1.65 (opponents avg 1.27)
Referee: Jonathan Moss
Assistants: Marc Perry, Dan Robathan
Fourth official: Robert Jones
VAR: Simon Hooper
Assistant VAR: Derek Eaton
Match Facts (courtesy BBC.co.uk)
- Arsenal have 20 away points so far this term – equalling last season’s entire tally.
- They have lost eight of 14 games against fellow sides who start the weekend in the top 10, winning five and drawing one.
- The Gunners have conceded at least once in each of their past seven league matches.
- All five of their most recent league losses, dating back to December, have been by a single-goal margin.
- Arsenal have claimed 13 points from London league derbies, more than any other side this season.
- Alexandre Lacazette has scored four goals in his past five league appearances versus West Ham, including in his last two.
- West Ham have lost 32 of the 49 previous Premier League encounters, winning eight and drawing nine.
- The Hammers have won just three of the past 24 home league meetings.
- Arsenal could register a 12th Premier League double over West Ham, more than against any other side.
Special thanks to @GamingPabst for his scouting of West Ham and to @GiantGooner for statistical insights into our opponents