Arsenal Match Preview
By Tom Dowsett
Monday 09 Dec 2019 09:30:00
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West Ham United notched up a rather unexpected win in their last London derby at Chelsea last weekend and are hoping to follow that up with another in quick succession. They are back amongst their loyal fan base tonight as they take on the challenge of Arsenal, looking to atone for Wednesday's 2-0 defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Following the results in the midweek programme, the Hammers have slipped to sixteenth in the table. They will want a home win in what is actually their last match in front of their own fans before Christmas, as Liverpool's visit to Stratford on 21 December has had to be moved due to Jürgen Klopp's side being involved in the Fifa Club World Cup tournament which commences three days earlier.

Manuel Pellegrini is desperate to see his side turn in another performance similar to the one at Stamford Bridge nine days ago and they will be hoping for a repeat of the result in the corresponding fixture last season, as Arsenal's record on the road is just as bad now as it was then.

To add to that, they haven't picked up a single win since 6 October when they achieved a  1-0 home success over AFC Bournemouth.

A string of poor performances and results have seen the North London club pull the trigger on Unai Emery's time as Head-Coach after just eighteen months in charge.

Freddie Ljungberg was drafted in as the club look for a replacement for the Spaniard and it will be hard to predict what type of reception he will receive from the home faithful tonight, as he spent a short but ultimately unsuccessful spell with the Hammers in the 2007/08 season. After picking up an injury which would sideline him for a lengthy period, the decision was made to reluctantly pay up the remaining three years of a four-year contract costing the club £6m.

It's fair to say that preparation ahead of this game for the Gunners has been far from ideal. They were only in action against Brighton and Hove Albion in an 8:15pm kick-off on Thursday. Although Pellegrini's men were handed an away fixture this week, their trip to Molineux was scheduled for 7:30pm on Wednesday. This meant that they had an extra day to work on their game plan.

Despite conceding those two goals in the Black Country, David Martin will start in goal and finally make his home debut after joining the club on 1 July.

Michail Antonio was a big miss against Wolves on Wednesday night after making significant impacts in the London derbies with Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea. The good news for Hammers' fans is that he has recovered sufficiently to return.

There are suggestions that Albian Ajeti will finally be involved after playing the last ten minutes against Nuno Espírito Santo's men with the Swiss striker yet to make his first start. His involvement could mean that Sébastien Haller will revert to the bench.

It remains to be seen whether Issa Diop will come back into the starting line-up to partner either Fabián Balbuena or Angelo Ogbonna.

Robert Snodgrass had an eventful game on Wednesday which eventually ended up with him being substituted after lengthy treatment to what looked to be a nasty injury but he could be fit to retain his place in midfield.

Tonight's match kicks off at 8pm with live coverage being screened by Sky Sports from 7pm. The referee is Mike Dean.

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