David Moyes’s side enter the contest on the back of a 1-1 draw with Gent in the first leg of their Europa Conference League quarter-final, while the Gunners let a two-goal lead slip at Anfield last weekend.
Somehow still alive in their third-tier European quarter-final, West Ham goalkeeper Alphonse Areola came under siege from a barrage of Gent attacks at the Ghelamco Arena, and Moyes was left thanking his lucky stars that the Hammers were able to cling on for a slice of the spoils.
Following Nayef Aguerd’s disallowed scrappy goal, Danny Ings got off the mark in continental competition to put West Ham into the ascendancy, but Hugo Cuypers swiftly levelled for a Gent side who can count themselves unfortunate not to be taking a slender advantage to the English capital.
Conference League commitments take a back seat for a few days, though, as Moyes’s men endeavour to continue their capital supremacy following a smash-and-grab 1-0 win over Fulham last weekend, keeping them above the dotted line in 14th place for the time being.
With just three points separating West Ham from Nottingham Forest in 18th place, results on Saturday could drag the Hammers back into danger, but losing just one of their last four in the division has somewhat eased their demotion fears and the pressure on Moyes’s tired shoulders.
Then again, that loss was the humiliating 5-1 defeat to Newcastle United at the London Stadium earlier this month – bringing an end to a five-game unbeaten home streak in the Premier League in abysmal fashion – and an Arsenal side aiming to right their Merseyside wrongs will not be in any sort of charitable mood.
The stage was set for Arsenal to end the miserable Anfield Premier League hoodoo that has bedevilled them since 2012, and silencing the Kop through Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus’s efforts had Mikel Arteta’s men on course to do just that last Sunday.
However, once the spark was ignited in Liverpool fans’ bellies, the hosts were a different beast – cutting the deficit in half through Mohamed Salah before the Egyptian sent a penalty wide – and Arsenal’s public enemy number one Roberto Firmino headed home a deserved equaliser for the Merseyside giants.
Had it not been for a pair of scarcely-believable interventions from Aaron Ramsdale, Arsenal could have been travelling back to base without a point, as Arteta oversaw a timid second-half display which has put a sizeable dent in their title chances.
Now sitting six points clear at the summit, Arsenal’s lead will be cut down to a mere three if Manchester City – who have a game in hand – see off Leicester City on Saturday, and the Gunners can ill-afford anything less than maximums before their season-defining trip to the Etihad Stadium later this month.
West Ham drew first blood at the Emirates back on Boxing Day, but Arsenal brought the festive cheer to North London by coming from behind to win 3-1 – their sixth triumph from seven against the Hammers since a Declan Rice-inflicted loss at the London Stadium in January 2019.
West Ham United Premier League form:
West Ham United form (all competitions):
Arsenal Premier League form:
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We say: West Ham United 1-3 Arsenal
Riling up the Anfield faithful contributed significantly to Arsenal’s downfall against Liverpool, but they should experience no such psychological disadvantage in front of a discontent London Stadium crowd.
While West Ham may end Arsenal’s perfect defensive record in London derbies away from home this season, the fatigued hosts should offer little resistance against Arteta’s ruthless attacking charges, culminating in a straightforward success for the league leaders.