West Ham United host Premier League leaders Arsenal at the London Stadium on Sunday looking to halt their slope toward the drop zone.
Both London sides face off from either end of the Premier League table, and the weekend meeting could be pivotal in deciding the fate of their respective campaigns.
West Ham were held to a frustrating draw by Gent in Belgium in the Europa League, leaving the tie delicately poised for their return fixture in London.
Arsenal’s title bid took a hit when out-of-sorts Liverpool put in a back-from-the-dead performance to steal a draw at Anfield.
The result leaves Arsenal just six points ahead of title rivals Manchester City who have a game in hand, meaning nothing but maximum points against the struggling West Ham would do for the Gunners.
The long trip to Belgium, looking to further their European ambitions, did not yield any positive fruits for David Moyes’ struggling West Ham, who were keen to build on their previous success over Fulham.
Not until the latter stages of the second half did the Hammers look like a team prepared for a fight, as they were dominated from start to finish by the Belgian top-four hopefuls.
Despite their rather negative display, shrewd signing Danny Ings broke the deadlock deep into first-half stoppage time, but their lead did not last long as the hosts responded in the 56th minute.
West Ham offered next to nothing going forward and had their resilient defending to thank for coming away with a draw.
That defence will need to be at its best at the weekend again as the Gunners storm the London Stadium looking for a win that takes them one step closer to realising their lofty ambitions.
However, winning just two of their last 29 league games against Arsenal (D5, L22) does little to suggest they would come away from the weekend contest unscathed.
West Ham have won two of their last three league games (L1), which is as many as they had in their previous 14, so they will hope to build on their recent form moving forward.
They’re looking to win back-to-back league games for the first time since October, but seeing their previous home form decimated in a 5-1 defeat to Newcastle United could take a psychological toll as they face another top-four side.
Mikel Arteta would not be too pleased with his side’s defending in the 2-2 draw against Liverpool, but despite the shaky form of Jurgen Klopp’s side, Anfield remains a fortress too strong to penetrate.
Heading into the game on the back of seven wins in a row, the Gunners raced to a two-goal lead inside the opening half an hour thanks to some Brazilian magic from Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus.
Mohamed Salah gave the Reds a lifeline before the interval, but the Egyptian could not keep his cool to level matters from the penalty spot in the second half.
Despite surviving the scare, Arsenal could do nothing about a moment of individual brilliance from the under-fire Trent Alexander-Arnold, who nutmegged Oleksandr Zinchenko before delivering an inch-perfect cross for Roberto Firmino to finish off late in the game.
Arteta will hope the result at Anfield is only a blip on their radar, with the Gunners expected to have a free run at the Premier League crown, especially without the weight of European football holding them back.
West Ham could provide the perfect platform to return to winning ways as Arsenal have only lost three of their 26 league visits to the Hammers (W14, D9) and have won nine of their last 14 away games against Moyes’ side (D4, L1).
Going behind against the Hammers will do little to faze the Gunners, who have won eight league games against West Ham after conceding the first goal.
However, going ahead could spell trouble for the Hammers as Arsenal are the only team yet to lose a league game when scoring the first goal this season (W18, D3).
Arsenal have also won all five of their away London derbies in the league this season, by an aggregate score of 11-0. Only twice before have they won six consecutive league derbies on the road, doing so in February 1989 and March 2014.
Premier League form
West Ham United: LDWLW
Moyes has no real selection troubles heading into the weekend, as only Gianluca Scamacca is expected to miss the Arsenal clash with a knee injury.
The Hammers boss should field a similar starting line-up to the one that faced Gent, but Lukasz Fabianski should return to the fold, replacing Alphonse Areola in goal.
Tomas Soucek, Kurt Zouma, Michail Antonio, and Lucas Paqueta missed last weekend’s win against Fulham with a knock, but they are among the fresh-legged replacements at Moyes’s disposal.
Arsenal continue to sweat on the fitness of William Saliba, who is yet to return to training from a back injury, with Rob Holding continuing to deputise for the Frenchman.
Takehiro Tomiyasu and Mohamed Elneny remain sidelined as they continue their recovery from surgery, while Eddie Nketiah rejoins the group after shaking off an ankle problem.
The English striker could be in contention to make his comeback on Sunday but should start the game on the bench, with Jesus retaining his starting berth.
West Ham United potential starting line-up:
(4-4-2): Lucasz Fabianski; Thilo Kehrer, Angelo Ogbonna, Kurt Zouma, Aaron Cresswell; Jarrod Bowen, Declan Rice, Tomas Soucek, Said Benrahma; Danny Ings, Michail Antonio.
Arsenal potential starting line-up:
(4-3-3): Aaron Ramsdale; Ben White, Rob Holding, Gabriel Magalhaes, Oleksandr Zinchenko; Granit Xhaka, Thomas Partey; Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard, Gabriel Martinelli; Gabriel Jesus.
How to Watch?
West Ham vs Arsenal, alongside all other fixtures in England’s top flight, is available to watch online via live Premier League streams.
We Say: West Ham United 0-2 Arsenal
Barring their capitulation in the thumping defeat to Newcastle, West Ham have proven solid and resilient at the back on home turf this term.
However, the array of weapons Arteta has in his star-studded arsenal should be enough to gun down the struggling Hammers in east London.
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