West Ham - Arsenal Preview: Gunners bidding to regain top spot

With Liverpool facing a trip to the Etihad Stadium to take on Manchester City, a victory for the Gunners might well see them regain the Premier League lead going into 2014

Arsenal will be out to extend their excellent recent record at West Ham when the two sides meet at Upton Park on Thursday.

Arsene Wenger's men missed out on the chance to reclaim top spot in the Premier League when they drew 0-0 against Chelsea on Monday. However, the Gunners will be confident of bouncing back at a venue where they have enjoyed much success in recent years.

West Ham have suffered defeat in five of their last six home games against the Gunners and come into this fixture a mere point above the relegation zone having won just three league matches all season.

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Sam Allardyce's men have sorely missed England striker Andy Carroll, who has yet to feature since joining the club on a permanent basis from Liverpool in the close-season and will once again be unavailable for the visit of Arsenal.

Carroll is joined on the sidelines by Stewart Downing (Achilles), Winston Reid (ankle), Ricardo Vaz Te (shoulder) and Mladen Petric (calf), leaving Allardyce with limited options as he attempts to steer West Ham away from trouble.

Arsenal, meanwhile, are without Jack Wilshere as he serves the final match of a suspension after being found guilty of aiming an offensive gesture towards Manchester City fans during a 6-3 defeat at the Etihad Stadium earlier in December.

Laurent Koscielny (knee) is still a doubt, having missed the game with Chelsea, while Yaya Sanogo (back), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Abou Diaby (both knee) all remain absent.

West Ham were well beaten in a 3-1 loss at Manchester United last time out and Allardyce has urged his side to sharpen up.

"It's a difficult test for us now and it's going to be a long haul in terms of digging ourselves out of this position," he told the club's official website.

"We just have to make sure that we don't make the types of error that we made in the first half on Saturday.

"We have to be more consistent in our performances and certainly we've got to find more goals."