The return to Premier League action for West Ham comes in the form of a London Derby against top-of-the-table Arsenal who will look to continue their dominant run of form so far this season. What could halt the Gunner and help the Hammers is a few key injuries for Mikel Arteta’s men.
West Ham’s history against Arsenal isn’t great. West Ham have only managed one win out of their last fourteen matches against their crosstown rivals, most recently succumbing to a 2-1 defeat at home, with defenders Rob Holding and Gabriel scoring for the Gunners.
West Ham’s best chance to grab three points off of cross-town Arsenal could be now with injury concerns overshadowing the Gunners’ squad.
With this dynamic, quick, and threatening version of Arsenal under Arteta’s management, the likelihood of West Ham getting points off of the Gunners seems poor. But, a few key injuries to the starting lineup could open the door for an upset in favour of the Hammers.
First and most important is marquee striker Gabriel Jesus. The Brazilian forward has been ruled out for this match due to a knee injury sustained in early December while playing with Brazil at the World Cup. His first season at Arsenal has been solid with five goals and six assists in fourteen matches so far. This is a massive absence for Arsenal up top.
Midfielder Emile Smith-Rowe is also trending toward being ruled out for this match. Smith-Rowe has played just four matches this season with no goals or assists, however, his breakout 2021/22 season where he netted ten goals and two assists proves he has the skill to compete at the top level.
The last of the Arsenal starters expected to miss this match is new signee Aleksandar Zinchenko. The versatile Ukrainian player has only played in eight matches this season, all at left-back, but his presence has helped settle a strong and young defensive backline.
The fallout of these three injuries means that Eddie Nketia will likely start up top, Martin Ødegaard will fill out the number 10 role as he has done tremendously well this season, and Kieran Tierney will be starting at left-back.
If there ever was a time for West Ham to snatch three points off of Arsenal this could be it, but temper expectations slightly against this version of the Gunners. David Moyes, who has to manage injury concerns of his own, will still have a tall task at hand trying to pry even one point off of the first player Gunners regardless of their injury woes.