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Premier League: When the North Meets the East in the Capital

Arsenal vs West Ham United

The upper crust of north London against the ‘boys’ from across East London.

It is the aristocrats originally from the marble halls of Highbury who have enjoyed great success historically against West Ham who are never a glamorous club or one that wins many trophies but an East End institution for a very long time.

And many of their die-hard supporters will tell you they have provided something their Premier League rivals have never managed. They contributed key men to England’s sole World Cup triumph.

If these two don’t produce Premier League highlights when they meet on Saturday, there will certainly be a rivalry emanating from the stands with bragging rights on the line.

 

Talking Points

I was surprised when I read that a survey showed Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City’s fans all reported to feel some degree of affection for the Hammers.

Because I doubt that is reciprocated from Hammers fans as far as Arsenal are concerned.

Both sides need the points for different reasons.

Premier League fans will be eager to see what Jarrod Bowen can bring to the struggling West Ham United
Jarrod Bowen celebrates scoring West Ham United’s first goal with teammate Sebastien Haller against Southampton at London Stadium

 

West Ham were plucky but ultimately unsuccessful last time on their travels. Although they did see off Southampton last weekend with a win they very much needed to climb out of the drop zone.

In that game, £20-million signing Jarrod Bowen marked his full debut with a goal with Sebastian Haller and Michail Antonio also on target at the London Stadium.

The result was certainly positive and a relief for co-chairmen David Sullivan and David Gold given the protest against them that took place before the game by thousands of Hammers fans who are angry at the way the club is being run.

They may be relieved to be playing this one away from home.

Of course, Arsenal are likely to pose a much bigger threat for David Moyes’ troops than Southampton.

The Gunners are aiming to recover from a shocking Europa League elimination just over a week ago at the hands of Olympiakos and will likely go all guns blazing given their only chance of qualifying for next season’s Champions League is now through the Premier League.

A man to keep an eye on in the home team will be Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who is a handful for many opposition defenders and a constant bright spark in another season of inconsistency.

Even accounting for that, they start as favourites against a side whose victory last weekend was just their third in their last 14 games in the top flight (D2, L9) with all three of those wins coming against south coast opposition (Southampton twice and Bournemouth).

The new Arsenal captain’s current contract expires at the end of the 2020-21 season. And the 30 year-old Gabon striker who has scored 20 goals in all competitions for the Gunners this term is a reported target for clubs including Barcelona and Inter Milan.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta says he wants to keep Aubameyang ‘under any circumstances’ and that the club needs to discuss a new deal with him before the end of the season.

Another goal in this one will only increase his value further.

 

History

These two have traditionally enjoyed a ding-dong battle.

The Gunners historically have had the edge with 67 victories compared to West Ham’s 35 triumphs. A further 39 meetings have been drawn.

That record is backed up recently too with West Ham only triumphing in one of their last nine clashes. That came last season when they won 1-0 at home in front of their elated fans.

The last time West Ham won at Arsenal was actually approaching five years ago. An opening weekend victory in the 2015/16 season when Cheik Kouyate and Mauro Zarate netted the goals in a 2-0 win.

That was only the second West Ham success against the Gunners in the last 25 meetings which stretch back to 2007.

I fondly recall a six goal thriller nearly four years ago when Andy Carroll was the hero with an eight minute hat-trick.

West Ham have generally found Arsenal a tough nut to crack particularly away from home.

 

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