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Arsenal look to continue their charge to Champion’s League at the London Stadium

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Good morning to Gunners all over the world.

Excited for the weekend games? I bet we all are… We take a look at the Arsenal vs West Ham game coming up on Sunday. A big game, where we need to consolidate on our 2 point lead over our top 4 rivals before the derby day. Arsenal have a slight advantage in terms of fixtures towards the race for top 4 over Tottenham since the pressure is on Spurs at the moment. So basically, its Arteta Vs Conte for top 4. They have put in 2 poor performances losing against Brighton at home and should have been beaten by the Bees. Interestingly, both are featuring on Sunday with the Tottenham game preceding the Arsenal game at the London stadium.

PREVIEW

West Ham have hit a form crisis (perfect for us). They have only Kurt Zouma supposedly fit to face us as the senior CB. Furthermore, with their defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt at the London stadium, they might just look to rest Antonio & Bowen.

Arsenal on the other hand, needs to build on the wonderful momentum picked up from fantastic wins against Chelsea and United in succession. Bukayo Saka was pulled in the 73rd minute against United last weekend, but seemingly is fit enough to make the first XI. Further, Mikel Arteta may have ended all hopes of Thomas Partey making a return to the First XI before the end of the season. He was quoted as saying:

on Thomas Partey’s recovery…
He’s progressing but he had a significant injury, a recurring injury as well, so we don’t expect him to make progress that quickly to see him this season, but hopefully I am wrong. 

Or maybe we are all in for a shock and see Partey start for us against the Spurs (I am an optimist).

Anyways, with Xhaka and Elneny performing wonderfully in the last two games, we should be fine for the West Ham game atleast. With the momentum on our side, we should be beating them easily but as we all know, there are no easy games in EPL.

FORMATION/TACTICAL SETUP

Mikel Arteta has numerous times conveyed the message that he would eventually look to play in a 4-3-3. The progress most of the sane people talk about in terms of the team’s style of play this season is attributed to Arsenal moving towards a 4-3-3. But as Mikel pointed out, the specificity in different positions is currently either Not available(through Injuries) or through lack of top quality. Well, we might just be welcoming a top quality full back in Tomiyasu who had a little cameo against United. But it depends on his match fitness.

In Sundays’ game we might again setup in a 4-3-3 formation. Speaking of Tomiyasu, Arteta made some interesting comments about employing him as a left back because of his ability to use both feet pretty well. Considering the rawness of Tavares and the key areas of attack coming down the wings for West Ham, Arteta might have given a little hint about the game on Sunday. But the fact that Tomiyasu has not played a full game in about 3 and a half months can not be overlooked. Arteta might be tempted to gradually introduce him and prepare for the #NLD.

In the reverse fixture in December, it was a game dominated by Arsenal. We mostly controlled the game in major phases eventually winning  2-0. Arsenal deployed a 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 formation with Xhaka-Partey partnership at the heart of it. We luckily had our 1st choice back line and midfield available in that game and deservedly won it. Lacazette played a big role as he was responsible for setting up Martinelli by dropping deep. Laca also won a penalty which he later went on to miss ofcourse. Here’s a little reminder of the 1st goal in that game:

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                 In frame 1: Lacazette drops deep, (Black Circle) while Declan Rice (Red Circle) was slow to pick him up.

Frame 2: Lacazette quickly turns in his stride and sees the brilliant run Martinelli makes and plays him through, it was a fantastic finish from Gabi.Kieran Tierney in the above frames is hidden, who kept his width higher up to stretch Coufal (RB-West Ham) and gave that extra split second to Gabi.       

The above picture shows the importance of how Mikel Arteta wants his CF to play. We all know Lacazette is not perfect, and neither is Nketiah, but that element of the game, whoever plays will be an integral part of how the game pans out on Sunday.

PREDICTED ARSENAL LINE UP

GK- Aaron Ramsdale –  He has been a bit shaky at times in recent games, but undoubtedly he needs to start as he is essential to our build up from the back.

Right back- Tomi/Soares : It is a tricky one, if he is fit Tomiyasu makes it without any debates. But considering the other 1st choice full back Tierney is also out long-term, Arteta might just be tempted to play Soares at RB and Tomi at LB.

CB- Ben White –  1st Choice starting CB, will need to have a big impact on this game. Lots of criticism has been coming his way for whatever reason, but if you ask me, he has had an outstanding first season considering he had the big price tag on him.

CB- Gabriel- 1st Choice again. Thankfully no injuries in this department yet. Since Tierney has been injured, his defensive understanding with Tavares has not been top notch leading to a few soft goals (Vs Crystal Palace, Vs Man united). But as much as we all love Tavares, he is going to be the weak link from the left side if he plays.

LB- Tavares/Tomi- Again, Tavares on this side against Bowen/Yarmolenko, Fornals and Co. might just be the weak link that could keep West Ham in the game. So as far as I am concerned, I think Arteta needs to make a change from the last two games and keep Tavares on the bench for this game.

CM- Xhaka – Been brilliant and is all of a sudden the Hero of this wonderful football club. Ive always loved him as a player specifically his leadership qualities on the pitch.

CM- Elneny- Lots of people are still not rating Elneny’s back to back performances highly enough. Hope he keeps his level of performances because he will certainly be needed in the last few games. For the romance, I back him to score a goal in this game.

CAM- Odegaard- He’s been sensational since he’s put on the Captains’ armband. Why dint Arteta think of it earlier?

LW- Martinelli-  ESR has been brilliant for us this season, but was a little off in the last game in terms of team cohesion and involvement. I think Martinelli might just start this game with his dynamism in forward play as well as his tremendous work rate.

RW- Saka- Looking at the last two performances from his preferred position, we can safely say that Saka doesnt want to play at LB ever again. Our star boy has been brilliant and is now officially, the 1st Choice Penalty taker.

CF- Lacazette/Nketiah- Nketiah has been brilliant, his pressing has been good and he got a brace against Chelsea while against United scored an Offside goal and had a clear cut chance when put 1 on 1 against De Gea. Even though Nketiah has been good, I still feel he lacks the added skills needed to drop off into spaces to receive the ball and doesnt help out our play from the back enough. This might put Lacazette as the favourite to start this game.

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FINAL SCORELINE- 

Arsenal to win it by 3-0 / 3-1 and carry on the momentum.  See you on the other side of the game hopefully with the same jubilance and flamboyance as the last two weeks. #COYG

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