Hammers won't roll over
Our Andy Schooler expects West Ham to at the very least makes things tough for top-four chasing Arsenal in the Premier League tonight.
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Arsenal are back in an FA Cup final so the mood around the Emirates will be much better than it might have been for this televised clash. However, it may well be replaced by one of apprehension as the Gunners, for the first time since the opening days of the season, now find themselves outside the top four. Patchy form has left them relying on Everton slipping up over the run-in and all they can do is keep winning their own games. This is the first of five that remain for them and with West Ham looking safe in mid-table now, the general view would be that this will be three points for Arsene Wenger's side. The odds of 4/9 about a home win certainly suggest a fairly routine win but Arsenal are not doing anything easily right now and I feel it will be a struggle at the very least. Quite simply, they aren't playing very well. The heady autumn days of Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil running rings round opponents are long gone and Saturday's win at Wembley was a grind. They could certainly have done without the extra-time element involved there and although changes will be made, there are sure to be some weary legs on show. In contrast, West Ham will be well rested and recent form also suggests they won't roll over. Since the dark days of heavy January cup defeats, the Hammers have put together a run of decent results on their travels. They've actually taken 10 points from their last six away games, with wins achieved at Cardiff, Aston Villa and Sunderland. Defeats at Everton and Stoke are no disgrace given those sides' home records, while a draw at Chelsea shows they can dig out results against better teams. I'm keen to side with West Ham and there are two ways that look worthy of consideration. First up is backing Andy Carroll to find the net, something he's done in his last two away games. Arsenal know what's coming with the balls from wide and deep into their box aimed at Carroll but stopping him has been a difficult task and Sam Allardyce will feel his bread-and-butter tactics can reap dividends against an Arsenal defence which has let its standards slip in recent months. They've kept just one clean sheet in their last 12 games, letting in two here against Swansea recently, leaking three at Everton and then conceding to Championship side Wigan at Wembley. Carroll is 100/30 to net at any time, but I'm going to go in a slightly different direction and back the Hammers on the Asian handicaps. As pointed out, Arsenal aren't anywhere near top gear at present and with their backline vulnerable I can't see them winning comfortably. West Ham can be backed at 13/10 on the +1 line, meaning a win or a draw will bring a profit, while a one-goal loss will see stakes refunded. They are capable of taking something from this game with a good display and the safety net offered in this market makes the price a decent one.
Verdict: Arsenal 1 West Ham 1
The Gunners have kept a clean sheet in eight of their last 12 Premier League home games, but they have conceded in each of their last three games there.
West Ham's last three Premier League games have ended with a 2-1 scoreline (two wins, one defeat).
West Ham are the only team that Arsenal have beaten after falling behind in the Premier League this season (W1 D4 L7).