Arsenal head to the London Stadium in buoyant mood following their brilliant 3-1 victory over Liverpool, which has put them firmly back into title contention. Mikel Arteta will now be eyeing revenge against West Ham after halting their title challenge last season and beating his side away in December. And ahead of Sunday’s Premier League fixture, Express Sport has taken a look at how the Gunners may line up…
GOALKEEPER – Raya
David Raya will continue in goal against West Ham, after arguably one of his strongest displays in a Gunners shirt against Liverpool. His confidence in commanding the area and ability to offload the ball quickly for the counter proved vital against Jurgen Klopp‘s side last weekend.
And Arteta will need more of the same against West Ham as their rivals pose an aerial threat going forward – as seen at the Emirates during the surprise 2-0 win in December.
DEFENCE – White, Saliba, Gabriel, Tomiyasu
The defence speaks largely for itself with Ben White, William Saliba and Gabriel vital to the club’s success at the back this season. But the dilemma for Arteta ahead of the London derby comes at left-back after receiving a much-needed boost.
Oleksandr Zinchenko is a slight doubt for the trip to east London after sustaining a calf problem in the opening period against Liverpool last time out. Luckily for Arteta he has Takehiro Tomiyasu to call upon after Japan’s Asian Cup exit and his timely return to fitness.
And given Tomiyasu’s defensive prowess, he could be in line for a call-up to the starting XI at the expense of Zinchenko – with Arsenal needing to be at their best defensively against West Ham’s tricky wingers, including Mohammed Kudus who caused havoc at the Emirates over the festive period.
MIDFIELD – Rice, Odegaard, Jorginho
Arsenal dictated proceedings against Liverpool in what was a statement victory, and they largely had their midfield to thank with Declan Rice producing another formidable performance while Martin Odegaard pulled the strings once more. But arguably it was Jorginho who took home most of the plaudits after a hugely assured display.
It was a big call from Arteta to start the midfield veteran against a Liverpool team full of energy but it proved a masterstroke and highlighted why he was so keen to sign him from Chelsea in a £12m display. His composure and ability to control the tempo of the game proved key for Arsenal and he could help break the Hammers down tomorrow if they decide to sit deep and catch his side on the counter.
ATTACK – Saka, Martinelli, Havertz
It’s arguably up top where Arteta faces the toughest call. Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli appear shoe-ins to start at the London Stadium after picking up more confidence with goals against title rivals Liverpool. But up top is where the predicament lies. Does Arteta stick or twist?
Kai Havertz produced arguably his best performance yet for Arsenal against the Reds, proving a real nuisance as a false nine against Virgil van Dijk and Ibrahima Konate – who was subsequently sent off after a second yellow for a foul on the German. But Gabriel Jesus is in contention to return from a minor knee injury.
However, given Arsenal returning to Champions League action the week after next in what is a busy period for the club, Arteta could look to make sure his No 9 is fully fit and firing ahead of the Porto test, and stick with Havertz against a tall West Ham defence.