13 December 2017

Wilshere looks ready to lay waste to West Ham. Will he? We'll see...

Ah, West Ham. So inept. So backward. Why, they're the dumping ground for the once-were's and might've-been's: Joe Hart. Pablo Zabaleta. Chicharito. Andy Carroll. The list goes on. David Moyes. Ah. That last one's different. After obliging his erstwhile Everton employers with a 4-0 loss at Goodison Park, Mr. Moyes does seem to have set West Ham on a course altogther different from the one on which the Irons had previously been so thoroughly hammered. After a depressing start to the season had seen Slaven Bilić sacked, Moyes has steered West Ham to an impressive resurrection, punctuated all too recently by a 1-0 win over Chelsea on the weekend.

The weekend prior, West Ham went bravely into the Etihad and very nearly found a point, with the hosts needing a late Silva strike to capture all three. The point: these are not last year's Hammers. Under Moyes, whether you like it or not, they are better organised defensively and, to boot, might start to threaten just a bit more offensively. While it might arouse a few chuckles to mock Carroll or Chicharito, or to exoriate Arnautovic, the harder truth is to admit that Moyes does have a few attacking options that can, on occasion, rise to the—well, to the occasion. Sorry. Painted myself into the corner just a bit there.

Long story short: underestimate this squad at your own peril. There are not many that can come so close to winning at the Etihad and follow that by winning at home over Chelsea. I daresay that, under Moyes, West Ham should very easily clamber out of relegation and might even flirt with relevance.

One need look no further than our own misadventures at the weekend at St. Mary's, where we came uncomfortably close to going into halftime down 2-0 or even 3-0, to remind ourselves of how the once-mighty might fall. We've not been all that overwhelming on the road. Even if West Ham are less intimidating at their new environs than they occasionally were at the Boleyn Ground, we still have our own issues to address. Southampton more or less had their way with us for the first half an hour, and we'll have to be better than that if we expect to find a point not to mention all three on Wednesday.

To that end, and with another fixture against Newcastle just three days after, we'll need a bit of rotation of the sort that should invigorate rather than enervate the squad. To wit: Wilshere. He's looked lively and occasionally influential, and if there's a time for him to remind us all of what he's capable of, it will be over the course of the next month or two. What better yoking could there be than of his own future at Arsenal and that of the Arsenal itself? After notching a goal and an assist against BATE Borisov, his introduction against Southampton helped to turn the tide. He's itching for a Prem start, and it's on Wednesday that he should get one.

LAST THREE
Arsenal 3-0 West Ham (05.04.2017)
West Ham 1-5 Arsenal (03.12.2016)
West Ham 3-3 Arsenal (09.04.2016)

FACTFILE
Arsenal have not lost in their last three trips to face West Ham.
Arsenal have scored 11 goals in their last three matches against West Ham.
Arsenal have won 12 of their last 14 matches against West Ham across all competitions.

INJURIES 
Cazorla, of course, is ruled out. So too is Ramsey. Mustafi and Walcott face late fitness tests.

POSSIBLE STARTING XI
Čech; Monreal, Koscielny, Chambers; Kolašinac, Xhaka, Wilshere, Bellerín; Sánchez, Özil; Giroud.

PREDICTION
Although Moyes might have his minions motivated, Arsenal know that they have something to prove.
West Ham 1-3 Arsenal.

Your thoughts? Can Wilshere lead the way Moyes's Hammers, or will we once slip up yet again?