The frequency of London derbies seems to be quite high as of late as we seem to be having one a week. Today it’s the East vs the North as West Ham play host to Arsenal at the quite aptly named London Stadium later on this evening.
You could almost accuse West Ham of being a Manchester based club after back to back games at Old Trafford during the past week but after a mixed bag of results during the past seven days Slaven Bilic will no doubt be happy that his side are on familiar soil.
The relative good was the 1-1 draw in the league last Sunday. A point that gives them the tiniest bit of daylight between them and the bottom three. The bad would have been the 4-2 defeat in the EFL Cup on Wednesday while the ugly will have been the amount of injuries they picked up along the way.
Diafra Sahko who scored on Sunday now looks set to miss another month of the season while Wednesday could prove very costly with both Aaron Cresswell and Michail Antonio limping off to compound the misery of that cup knockout.
And when we talk about the misery of cup knockouts it’s something that Arsenal can very much relate to after being dumped out by Southampton on the same night. Arsene Wenger took the opportunity to make wholesale changes and the plan backfired as The Saints marched onto a 2-0 win to move on to the Semi Final stage.
Once again it highlights where Arsene Wenger lists the EFL Cup in terms of priorities, the result would have no doubt bought the ire of some Arsenal fans but if it means they can really compete on the title front this season then this defeat will soon be forgotten.
That defeat means that the impressive unbeaten streak since the opening weekend of the season has come to and end but in the bigger picture Arsenal still find only 3 points off the top and more importantly have already got a 4 point cushion over their arch rivals Tottenham.
The reason they have got that buffer is thanks to a relatively routine win over Bournemouth on Sunday. Bournemouth may have gone into the break but Arsenal found their extra gears after the restart and ended up running out 3-1 winners at The Emirates.
They will hope that title rivals Manchester City and Chelsea can take points off of each other in the lunchtime fixture, if that game ends in a draw it’s almost the perfect result for Arsenal as that coupled with a win in East London will put them firmly back in the title race.
Last time these two sides met it was the final days of Upton Park and who can forget the six goal thriller that lunchtime. Andy Carroll was on hand to score a stunning hat-trick that day and there is the possibility that he could feature again. The thought of that could put Arsenal fans into a cold sweat.
West Ham certainly need him back as injury to both Sahko and Antonio means they are now incredibly light in terms of attacking options. Whether it’s bad luck or bad preparation but The Hammers have had far too many injuries in this first third of the season and it’s really hampering them as a side especially when you look at their league position.
There is the possibility that West Ham could start this game in the bottom three although that would have to mean some coupon busting results. But regardless of the other sides they need to start getting a run of positive results under their belts.
They haven’t won any of their last four league matches but unfortunately for them I think it’s going to be five come the end of the evening. Not only that I think Arsenal will bounce back from their midweek disappointment to earn all three points and keep themselves in the title mix. An away for me.