The poor start to the season continued last Saturday, with the loss to AFC Bournemouth at the London Stadium. Despite taking the lead through Marko Arnautovic before the break, the Hammers threw away their lead after goals from Callum Wilson and Steve Cook.
The Hammers lined up in a 4-4-2-type formation, with the focus of the attack being the strike partnership of Arnautovic and Javier Hernandez, being supported by Felipe Anderson and Robert Snodgrass on the flanks. Despite the later introductions of Andriy Yarmolenko and Lucas Perez (who made his debut), the Hammers could not overturn the Cherries’ lead and eventually succumbed to defeat.
This Saturday sees us make the trip to the Emirates Stadium to face Arsenal. Unai Emery’s side haven’t made the strongest of starts either, with losses to Manchester City and Chelsea. Despite the Gunners facing somewhat stronger opponents than the likes of Bournemouth, they’ll be as itching as the Hammers to set the record straight as us in what should be a hugely competitive tie.
Manuel Pellegrini has pretty much the same squad as last week to choose from. In the coming days, hopefully members of the U23 squad will depart on loan, but with enough first team options available anyway it should not make a significant impact on Pellegrini’s plans just yet.
Reverting to a 4-2-3-1 formation could be a better idea, with Marko Arnautovic to be employed as the lone striker. For now, Javier Hernandez may be better utilised as an impact sub, to cause problems for a tiring Arsenal defence during the latter stages of the game. Their defensive options have not been particularly convincing, and it is hoped whoever is in attack will take advantage of that.
Defensively we have struggled too – fans have called for Issa Diop to start. The £20m+ man has yet to start in the league and deserves a chance to make his mark. It would be likely he’ll replace Fabian Balbuena if so, who hasn’t exactly replicated some of his pre-season performances. Fans have called for Aaron Cresswell and Ryan Fredericks to start at full back in place of Arthur Masuaku and Pablo Zabaleta anyway – a combination that also has not had a chance.
Pedro Obiang also deserves a chance to start in midfield. Usually, he has been the best central midfielder at the club and with some questionable performances from the likes of Jack Wilshere and Mark Noble it would be good to see Pedro Obiang in action. Carlos Sanchez made his debut last weekend against Bournemouth, playing the final 13 minutes plus added time but is unlikely to start however.
Whatever the team may be, the fans will hope for us to go out of August with at least one point to our names before the international break. It’s not impossible considering Arsenal’s recent form, but this season hasn’t been the most predictable exactly.
Prediction: Arsenal 1-1 West Ham United.
Possible lineup (4-2-3-1): Lukasz Fabianszki; Aaron Cresswell, Angelo Ogbonna, Issa Diop, Ryan Fredricks; Jack Wilshere, Pedro Obiang; Andriy Yarmolenko, Felipe Anderson, Robert Snodgrass; Marko Arnautovic.