An eye-catching London derby takes place at the London Stadium in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon as West Ham United play host to Arsenal.
David Moyes’s side lost 2-1 to Eintracht Frankfurt in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final in midweek, while the Gunners saw off Manchester United 3-1 last time out.
It was truly a game of inches in the English capital on Thursday evening, but the biggest European night in West Ham’s recent history started in the worst possible fashion as Ansgar Knauff finished at the back post with less than a minute on the clock.
While the Hammers did manage to respond before the half-time whistle via Michail Antonio’s outstretched leg, Frankfurt ensured they would take a one-goal advantage back to base through Daichi Kamada before Jarrod Bowen’s Puskas-worthy bicycle kick cannoned back off the crossbar and away from danger.
Amid their quest for Europa League glory, West Ham’s domestic fortunes have suffered a nosedive with two defeats and a draw from their last three in the Premier League, with last weekend’s 1-0 defeat to Chelsea leaving them seventh in the table and three points adrift of Manchester United.
Wolverhampton Wanderers are also breathing down the necks of West Ham, whose best shot of securing a Champions League berth for 2022-23 undoubtedly lies in the Europa League, but Moyes will not want to relinquish the backup of a top-seven finish in the top flight in order to return to any form of continental competition.
Furthermore, West Ham welcome Arsenal to the London Stadium having scored in every one of their Premier League home matches this season, and they have taken 14 points from the last 18 on offer on home soil, but the Gunners know a thing or two about winning crucial away matches in the capital.
The past 10 days could hardly have been more enjoyable for Mikel Arteta and Arsenal, who have seemingly recovered from their minor blip at the beginning of the month while Tottenham Hotspur cede control of their Champions League destiny to their North London rivals.
After their goal-laden showing at Stamford Bridge, Nuno Tavares, Bukayo Saka and Granit Xhaka all netted in a 3-1 success to virtually kill off Man United’s top-four hopes, although the Gunners certainly rode their luck as Bruno Fernandes’s penalty struck the post and went behind for a goal kick.
It would not be an Arsenal win in 2022 without the Emirates faithful having their hearts in their mouths at some point during the contest, but Arsenal are once again in the driving seat for Champions League football as they sit two points clear of Tottenham Hotspur in fourth spot.
Spurs could temporarily rise back into the top four should they get the better of Leicester City a couple of hours before Arsenal take to the field against West Ham, but the Gunners have now won six of their last eight away games in the top flight and will be aware that West Ham have bigger fish to fry at present.
Arteta’s side came back from 3-0 down to rescue a 3-3 draw versus West Ham in this fixture last season, but their meeting at the Emirates back in December ended in a straightforward 2-0 success, and Arsenal’s 13 away victories against the Hammers represents their most against a single side in the Premier League.
West Ham United Premier League form:
West Ham United form (all competitions):
Arsenal Premier League form:
We say: West Ham United 1-2 Arsenal
Not one Premier League side has managed to stop West Ham scoring at the London Stadium this term, and that streak is unlikely to end here, with Arteta’s side still very much capable of the odd defensive lapse.
However, a raft of changes can be expected from Moyes with the second leg of their Europa League semi-final in mind, and a well-rested Arsenal side who have turned up the heat in the big games should post another crucial three points in their Champions League pursuit.