Arsenal v West Ham preview. The key battles to take place on Saturday

The opposition

ARSENAL head into Saturday’s match at the Emirates on a high after their thumping 3-0 victory at Manchester City last Sunday.

The Gunners are second in the Premier League table, five points adrift of leaders Chalesea and with Samir Nasri (below) in particular in dazzling form at the moment, will no doubt be favourites this weekend.

The Frenchman and influential skipper Cesc Fabregas are the creative sparks in the Arsenal midfield with their vision and range of passing key factors in the club’s success.

Up front they have a powerful striker in Marouane Chamakh who has adapted well to the physical English game since joinging on a free in the summer after his contract at French side Bordeaux expired.


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With Robin van Persie once again spending more time in the treatment room rather than on the pitch, the Moroccan’s performances have been vital in the absence of their World class Dutch hitman.

In goal, Lucasz Fabianski is in decent form after a string of solid displays, although with Thomas Vermaelen missing with an Achilles injury, the Gunners will be hopeful that Laurent Koscielny will be fit for the weekend.

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Key to the game

BOTH side’s key players are in midfield with both likely to flood the middle of the park.

With the Hammers coming off the back of a demoralising defeat against Newcastle and knowing that attacking Arsenal will probably lead to their demise, the likelihood is Carlton Cole will be used as a sole striker, with Scott Parker, Mark Noble and Valon Behrami trying to prevent Fabregas, Nasri and Andrey Arshavin from creating too many opportunities.

It is vital one of the Hammers trio does have an influence further up the pitch, as although Victor Obinna and Kieron Dyer are likely to push forward, West Ham will struggle if Cole is given little help through the middle.

What will work in West Ham’s favour is like themselves, most of Arsenal’s attacking play is focused through the middle and with Parker a barrier in front of the back four, the hosts could be thrwated.

Arsenal’s full backs Bacary Sagna and Gael Clichy are energetic and do like to get forward so Lars Jacobsen and Danny Gabbidon will be wary of their threat.

Verdict

Although they are likely to frustrate Arsenal for a decent period of time, West Ham’s lack of attacking outlets will leave the defence under a fair amount of pressure throughout the 90 minutes and are unlikely to hold firm.

Arsenal 2 West Ham 0

For live twitter updates on Saturday’s match, plus all the latest West ham news, interviews and analysis, follow us on twitter at www.twitter.com/ela_hammers

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