Arsenal have made an emphatic start to 2019 and will seek to keep it going when they face West Ham in Premier League action on Saturday.
Unai Emery’s side were dealt a stark reminder of how far behind the very elite they remain as they lost 5-1 to Liverpool in December but have bounced back in impressive form, recording thumping three-goal wins over Fulham and Blackpool.
They remain very much in the hunt of the Champions League, and with Chelsea wobbling will aim to increase the pressure on their neighbours by winning against the Hammers.Manuel Pellegrini’s side are up to 10th in the standings after a slow start to the season but have won only one of their last four.
|Game||West Ham v Arsenal|
|Date||Saturday, January 12|
|Time||12:30pm GMT / 7:30am ET|
|Stream (US only)||fubo TV (7-day free trial)|
TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch
In the United States (US), the game can be watched live and on-demand with fuboTV (7-day free trial).
New users can sign up for a free seven-day trial of the live sports streaming service, which can be accessed via iOS, Android, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Apple TV as well as on a web browser.
|US TV channel||Online stream|
|NBCSN||fubo TV (7-day free trial)|
In the United Kingdom (UK), the game can be watched live on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Premier League. It can be streamed on Sky Go.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
|Sky Sports Main Event / Sky Sports Premier League||Sky Go|
Squads & Team News
|Position||West Ham players|
|Goalkeepers||Fabianski, Adrian, Trott|
|Defenders||Zabaleta, Cresswell, Diop, Masuaku, Ogbonna|
|Midfielders||Snodgrass, Noble, Rice, Felipe Anderson, Obiang, Coventry, Powell, Holland|
|Forwards||Antonio, Arnautovic, Carroll, Diangana, Perez|
Samir Nasri starts for West Ham against former club Arsenal in what is his first Premier League appearance since August 2016.
There’s also a place in the XI for Marko Arnautovic, despite reports that he is considering a lucrative switch to China.
Elsewhere, Manuel Pellegrini goes with the same back four that started the 2-2 draw with Brighton in the FA Cup last time out.
West Ham XI: Fabianski; Zabaleta, Ogbonna, Diop, Cresswell; Rice, Noble; Antonio, Nasri, Anderson; Arnautovic.
Subs: Adrian, Masuaku, Obiang, Snodgrass, Diangana, Lucas Perez, Carroll.
|Goalkeepers||Cech, Leno, Martinez|
|Defenders||Sokratis, Koscielny, Lichtsteiner, Jenkinson, Kolasinac, Medley, Pleguezuelo|
|Midfielders||Elneny, Ramsey, Torreira, Maitland-Niles, Guendouzi, Xhaka, Willock|
|Forwards||Iwobi, Saka, Lacazette, Aubameyang, Nketiah|
The headline team news for Arsenal centres around the absence of Mesut Ozil from the matchday squad.
It’s unclear why he’s been left out at this stage, with Unai Emery opting for an attacking trio of Alex Iwobi, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette.
Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi also return to the starting XI having been rested for the 3-0 FA Cup win over Blackpool.
Arsenal XI: Leno; Mustafi, Koscielny, Sokratis; Maitland-Niles, Xhaka, Guendouzi, Kolasinac; Iwobi, Aubameyang, Lacazette.
Subs: Cech, Bellerin, Lichtsteiner, Monreal, Torreira, Ramsey, Nketiah.
Betting & Match Odds
Arsenal are priced as 21/20 favourites with bet365. West Ham can be backed at 5/2 and a draw is 3/1.
Departures are currently on the agenda for both Arsenal and West Ham as they prepare for their second Premier League outings of 2019.
Aaron Ramsey is set to depart the Gunners for Juventus on a Bosman deal in the summer, much to the chagrin of Martin Keown, who branded their inactivity regarding the Welshman “astonishing”.
“If Arsenal are admitting they are only able to sign loan players, then it is staggering that they are happy to let one of their prized assets leave for nothing,” he told the Daily Mail.
“Ramsey has conducted himself with great dignity this season but it is astonishing that Arsenal, a powerhouse in the English game, could not put together a package to keep him.”
Meanwhile, the Hammers are facing a fight to retain the services of Marko Arnautovic, their leading marksman and a striker who has been linked with a lucrative move to the Chinese Super League.
“He will have his head in the right place for the game against Arsenal,” the Chilean stated before admitting: “Marko is a player of our team, players of his quality will be wanted by other clubs. I want to keep him of course, but you never know what might happen in the future.”
If the Hammers are to cause an upset on Saturday, as they have already done against Manchester United at home this season, they will have to reverse a nasty recent trend against their London rivals.
Arsenal have won five of the last six meetings between the clubs, with the exception a 0-0 draw in the Premier League last season.
Arnautovic gave West Ham the lead when they went to the Emirates earlier this season, but a Nacho Monreal equaliser and a stoppage-time striker from Danny Welbeck sandwiched an Issa Diop own goal as the Gunners ran out 3-1 winners.
Samir Nasri has revealed that he has “nothing but love” for former club Arsenal despite his acrimonious exit to join Manchester City back in 2011.
The midfielder opted to make the move to the Gunners’ Premier League rivals for £24 million ($34m), delivering a parting shot at the club’s supporters as he suggested City’s fans were more passionate.
The Frenchman spent three years at Arsenal, making a total of 125 appearances, and he insists that, as he prepares to face the Gunners for West Ham on Saturday, he still holds his former club in high regard.
He told Sky Sports: “I enjoyed it [his time at Arsenal] a lot because I had a manager there that really believed in me. It was like a second dad.
“When I look at it I’m happy about my three years there but disappointed at the same time because we had so much quality. It’s just a shame that we didn’t win any silverware with the players and the team we had, but I had good memories.
“Arsene Wenger made me have this mentality to score goals and to believe in my qualities. From the top of my head, there was this game against Fulham where I scored two really nice goals. We won 2-1 and at the end of this game we were top of the league.
“The goal against Porto, the goal against Tottenham in the derby. My final season was the season when I scored a lot of goals and it was good.”
“I’m looking forward to it [facing Arsenal] because it will hopefully be my first game back in the Premier League. I was in the squad against Brighton but I stayed on the bench so it would be nice.
“As well, in the past maybe we had some words with the Arsenal fans but like I said, there is nothing but love for the club because I spent three wonderful years there.
“Before I used to say things about Arsenal because I was hurt by the treatment from the fans but there is nothing but love for Arsenal.”
Nasri is preparing to make his first appearance in the Premier League since 2016, having left City to join Sevilla on loan before completing a permanent move to Turkish side Antalyaspor in 2017.
He was, however, banned from football for 18 months for breaching anti-doping rules, with Nasri having since signed for West Ham following the conclusion of his suspension.
And the 31-year-old insists that he is still as good as he used to be, claiming that he’s only focused on taking his second chance in football. He added: “One-hundred per cent [Nasri’s as good as he used to be]. If you don’t believe in yourself, who’s going to do it for you?
“I’m a guy who is confident and football is like riding a bike, forget about it. Once you know how to do it you will always do it. The only thing is to get my fitness back and that’s it, but my mindset is I want to prove something to myself.
“Prove that I’m back and I only lost one year of my career. I don’t want to have any regrets about it. I want to be able to say I was blessed, I was lucky to have a second chance and I did take it.”
Unai Emery’s gamble on Mesut Ozil backfires as uninspiring Arsenal falter against West Ham Sean KearnsSaturday 12 Jan 2019 2:30 pm Share this article via facebookShare this article via twitterShare this article via messenger Mesut Ozil hasn’t featured since Boxing Day (Picture: Getty) Questioned before kick-off at to why Mesut Ozil was nowhere to be seen in Arsenal’s 18-man squad to play West Ham, Unai Emery could easily have resorted to a hackneyed list of excuses that we’ve grown accustomed to hearing since the German’s move to the Emirates. Instead, the Spaniard made it clear that the 30-year-old was not even worthy of a place on Arsenal’s bench because ‘the players here are better for the match today.’ From a tactical perspective, Ozil’s questionable work-rate infuriates Emery and he feels the Gunners’ leaky defence can ill-afford such luxury in front of it, especially given their injury issues. But make no mistake that a grander game is at play here. Ozil became the club’s highest earner ever when he signed a new deal in 2018 and he used Alexis Sanchez’s move to Manchester United as leverage against the Gunners, who couldn’t be seen to lose their two prized assets in such a short space of time. Emery is risking short-term pain by exiling Mesut Ozil (Picture: Getty) The contract gave Ozil unprecedented power but the club’s decision to withdraw a lucrative offer to Aaron Ramsey – a move orchestrated by Emery – signalled a change in direction for the club. That’s why Emery’s fooling no-one by claiming Ozil’s absence is for tactical reasons. Few players in Premier League history have bore as much criticism as Ozil and many of Emery’s concerns are legitimate. In Ozil’s last appearance for the Gunners in a 1-1 draw on Boxing Day at Brighton, he was substituted at half-time despite looking dangerous in the final third. Mesut Ozil was taken off at half time on his last Arsenal appearance (Picture: Getty) However, Emery was furious with the German’s refusal to track Jurgen Locadia from an attacking corner and the Dutchman was nearly 50 yards ahead of Ozil when he tapped home to equalise shortly before the interval. But such a gamble to ostracise Ozil requires the rest of the team to step-up in his absence and, if anything, the playmaker’s stock has risen as his team-mates have struggled without him in recent weeks. The Gunners looked short of ideas against the Hammers and spent much of the game sitting off Manuel Pellegrini’s men, hoping to hit them on the counter. Emery set his side up in a 5-3-2 formation without the ball, moving into a 3-5-2 in possession. Arsenal are three points off fourth having played a game more than Chelsea (Picture: Gettty) The system allows for two-deep lying midfielders and for wing-backs to get forward but it forces the Gunners to relinquish control, instead allowing their opposition to grow in confidence. Emery would ideally like to play in a 4-2-3-1 formation, which would play into Ozil’s strengths but even then it’s unlikely that the German would be reintroduced to the fold. Regardless, an Arsenal side boasting the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette should be causing West Ham more trouble but Declan Rice’s goal shortly after half-time was all the Hammers deserved. Pellegrini’s side had already come close through the exciting Felipe Anderson and Rice headed narrowly wide before scoring his first goal for the club. Ozil’s stock has risen during his exile (Picture: Getty) Ironically, it wasn’t until Arsenal introduced Juventus-bound Aaron Ramsey that they clicked into some form of gear. The Welshman was set to sign a new deal at the club before Emery instructed his board to withdraw the offer, believing instead that he can use the budget more wisely elsewhere. The public nature of that decision makes it difficult not to conclude that the same is happening with Ozil but Emery has had to fully freeze him out because of the club’s decision to hand him a long-term deal when they knew Arsene Wenger was leaving at the end of last season. The defeat leaves Arsenal three points off of Chelsea in fourth, having played a game more than the Blues. The Gunners welcome Maurizio Sarri’s side to the Emirates next week and defeat would leave them big outsiders to qualify for the Champions League. Emery has appeared happy to experience short-term pain by exiling Ozil but the true test will come in the coming weeks to see if he reintroduces him. For now, the power is back in Ozil’s hands.