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Premier League

  • 15 January 2011
  • • 17:30
  • • Boleyn Ground, London
  • Referee: A. Marriner
  • • Attendance: 32682

West Ham - Arsenal Preview: Wayne Bridge set to make Hammers debut while Gunners continue to struggle in defence

West Ham - Arsenal Preview: Wayne Bridge set to make Hammers debut while Gunners continue to struggle in defence


West Ham

New loan signing Wayne Bridge looks set to make his Hammers debut at Upton Park on Saturday against Arsenal, after joining from Manchester City until the end of the season.

However, manager Avram Grant will be without defender Tal Ben Haim who has now returned to parent club Portsmouth after completing his loan spell at the East London club.

Meanwhile, Grant will also be without the suspended Victor Obinna, who was sent off in the 2-1 victory over Birmingham City in the League Cup semi-final first leg on Tuesday, so Carlton Cole could be restored to the starting line-up after netting the winner in the tie at Upton Park.

But the Hammers will continue to be without Manuel da Costa, Herita Ilunga, Lars Jacobsen and Benni McCarthy, who are still on the treatment table at Upton Park.

Possible starting XI: Green; Faubert, Tomkins, Reid, Upson; Sears, Noble, Parker, Boa Morte; Piquionne, Cole.


After the League Cup semi-final first leg defeat against Championship side Ipswich Town on Wednesday, manager Arsene Wenger is expected to recall a number of players for the game against West Ham at Upton Park.

Robin van Persie, Gael Clichy, Tomas Rosicky, Samir Nasri and Lukasz Fabianski were rested for the tie at Portman Road, so could return to the starting line-up, although goalkeeper Fabianski is only rated as 50-50 to feature due to a shoulder injury, so Wojciech Szczesny could continue between the posts.

However, Wenger continues to struggle with players in the defence and has revealed that he is looking to bring reinforcements in the transfer window.

French international Sebastian Squillaci is the latest player to appear on the injury list at the Emirates after picking up a hamstring injury.

Meanwhile, Thomas Vermaelen continues to struggle with an Achilles problem that has kept him out of action since September, and right-back Bacary Sagna is serving the last game of his three-match suspension after being sent off against Manchester City.

Possible starting XI: Szczesny; Eboue, Djourou, Koscielny, Clichy; Fabregas, Song, Wilshere; Nasri, Van Persie, Rosicky.

Hammers look for momentum after cup wins

Manager Avram Grant is still in charge of the Hammers – at least for now - after a board meeting took place at Upton Park on Wednesday afternoon, and now he will be looking to push the club up the table.

After a 2-1 win over Birmingham in the League Cup on Tuesday, the Hammers are on the verge on their first Wembley final in nearly 30 years, but what will be more encouraging for Grant is that West Ham have only lost once in their last six league matches at home, a 3-1 defeat against Manchester City.

Along with the arrival of Wayne Bridge, and back to back wins in cup competitions, it now seems the momentum could be West Ham and a victory over their London rivals could see them move out of the relegation zone and begin their push up the table.

Gunners suffering from mid-season troubles?

On the other hand, Arsenal seem to be on a mid-season blip, after only picking up two victories in their last seven games.

Arsene Wenger was infuriated after seeing his side lose to Championship strugglers Ipswich Town on Wednesday, and will be looking for a dramatically improved performance when the Gunners head to Upton Park.

The north London side are currently four points behind leaders Manchester United, and Arsene Wenger knows that a victory over relegation threatened West Ham is vital if Wenger wants to take the Premier League trophy to the Emirates at the end of the season.

What is encouraging for the Frenchman is that Arsenal have scored twice as many goals as their opponents, and have one of the best away records in the league along with Manchester City.

But Wenger will know they will have to be on their guard against the Hammers, after a recent mixed record at Upton Park - only picking up two wins, one draw and suffering one defeat in their last four meetings.

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Editor's Prediction

With both teams still having a lot to play for at either end of the table, this will be exciting end to end game but they could end up cancelling each other out.

The Upton Park crowd will definitely get behind their team, which will be an advantage. However, with the Hammers' shaky defence still a problem and with Arsenal having an impressive away record, they will have the quality to get at least a point.

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