Arsenal can keep it clean
Despite their troubles, Reece Killworth fancies Arsenal to beat West Ham without conceding in the Premier League on Wednesday night.
- Related Content
"We cannot afford to drop points any more if we want to be in the top four." So said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger after seeing his side slip to a second defeat in three matches against Chelsea on Sunday.
The early weeks of 2013 certainly haven't gone the way Wenger and his men will have planned, with just the one victory on the board from five games.
Since the 7-3 defeat of Newcastle on December 29, the Gunners have drawn with Southampton and Swansea and lost to Manchester City and Chelsea, with an FA Cup replay win over the Swans sandwiched by those two defeats.
They've now lost six of their 22 league games, a tally matched by the Swans and Stoke (and also, it has to be said, fourth-placed Tottenham) and it's vital they start getting points on the board having slipped seven adrift of Spurs.
There's no better place to start than Wednesday night's home game with West Ham, which - weather permitting - will allow any fans of Premier League football with OCD to rest a little easier given it takes everyone to 'P23'. For those who have forgotten, this is the game postponed from Boxing Day.
The Hammers, for their part, are closer in points to the Gunners than the relegation zone but they too aren't in great form - they're 13th in the Premier League's form table with only one win from their last six while if you factor in the FA Cup it's just that solitary victory from their last eight matches.
And there's a pattern to their recent away games that we'll look to exploit.
When the Hammers step out at the Emirates on Wednesday night it'll be two days short of two months since they scored their last goal away from home.
In match time, it's now in excess of 450 minutes since Andy Carroll netted a late consolation goal in a 3-1 defeat at White Hart Lane on November 25.
No wonder their clearly-frustrated manager Sam Allardyce said after the 1-1 Upton Park draw with rock-bottom QPR at the weekend: "We have a deficiency putting balls in the back of the net - that's obvious."
As Allardyce did, he can point to the dominance of possession and chances they had in that game, while in their last away match he felt they should have had a penalty in the FA Cup third-round replay defeat at Manchester United.
But the facts are they are desperately short of goals - particularly on the road.
And the head-to-head between these sides offers little in the way of solace.
You have to go back to the 2006/07 season for the last Hammers victory over Arsenal, though like London buses two came at once in that campaign.
Since then, it's P10 W8 D2 for Arsenal against West Ham with six of those eight victories coming without the men in claret and blue scoring. Add a 0-0 draw into the mix and in seven of the last 10, the Hammers haven't registered.
Losing to Swansea and drawing with Fulham and Sunderland shows Arsenal aren't exactly a rock-solid betting proposition at the Emirates this season and they've shown a good deal of defensive fragility along the way.
But they kept a clean sheet against the Swans in their FA Cup replay last time out - and against Wigan and West Brom last month - and given the stats and head-to-head I reckon there's enough to like about them 'winning to nil'.