Arsenal travel to West Ham this Sunday in what is perhaps our last chance to ignite a late surge up the league and finish in the European spots. West Ham have been having a phenomenal season. So much so that they have a handsome lead over us in the league right now. That means that nothing short of 3 points is acceptable here. But fair play to West Ham. Many people fancied them to get relegated at the start of the season. I thought that they’d survive but would be tempting fate and perhaps finish in 16th or so. Never did anyone think that with 10 games left to play, they find themselves with a really strong chance of obtaining Champions League football next season. Arsenal will have to be at their very best to grab a win.
LENO: Every game is so important right now so I am not seeing too many chances for Ryan to really spread his Arsenal wings. Leno should keep his spot for this one
CEDRIC: He was solid in the NLD and offers more going forward than Bellerin. He was rested on Thursday so I would expect him to return to the side this Sunday
HOLDING: I don’t know where Holding has gone. He’s been having a really solid season but just recently Arteta doesn’t seem to fancy him. I hope that changes soon. I think he is just a bit less error-prone than Luiz
GABRIEL: In the early stages of 2021, he was struggling to rediscover his early season form. But in the last 4 or 5 games we’ve had the same Gabriel as we did in September. He has been almost faultless in the last month or so
TIERNEY: People can say what they like about Robertson, Shaw, Chilwell or whoever else, but I think that right now, based on this season, we’ve got the best LB in the league. Any notions of rival fans suggesting he is overrated have certainly been silenced
PARTEY: We are a lot better with him on the pitch. When Ceballos, Elneny and even Xhaka have the ball you don’t always trust them to do the right thing. Partey’s decision making and the way he protects the ball is really good
XHAKA: He was far from his usual standards against Olympiakos, but I think that Ceballos’ tough time right now means we shouldn’t risk going with the Spaniard. Play Xhaka and let Ceballos have some time to steady the ship over the international break
PEPE: Saka may well be fit and ready, and if there are no real concerns with his hamstring issue I’d play him. However, if there is even the slightest doubt that he is 100% ready then I just wouldn’t risk it. There’s no sense in aggravating an injury just before the international break
ODEGAARD: A few weeks ago I was undecided on Odegaard. A couple of crucial goals later and he’s taken a big step in proving to us fans that Arteta should break the budget to sign him permanently. What’s good about him in the last few weeks is that he has been a bit more direct; he is taking more shots, running forward and playing on the half-turn more
SMITH ROWE: With Tierney bombing forward on the overlap and Smith Rowe drifting into that channel, the two are establishing a Targett-Grealish kind of connection. Smith Rowe has to play, but in fairness so does Odegaard. So play them both
LACAZETTE: Between being latte for the NLD and missing an abundance of chances against Olympiakos, I think we maybe need to rest Auba. He has played a lot of football recently and in fairness does a lot of running in these games. Like I’ve said many times about Lacazette, I prefer him as a number 9 to Auba. His hold up play and link up play is far superior. Just look at how free flowing our attack was in the NLD with Lacazette in the team, compared to how often our attacks would just die out against Olympiakos with Auba having to be that isolated focal point
What do you think Gooners? Who should start against the Hammers?
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