West Ham United take on London rival Arsenal at home later today and the Hammers will hope to upset the Gunners who have bounced back well after their defeat against Liverpool.
While the hosts will aim to consolidate their position inside the top-half of the Premier League table, Arsenal will aim to bolster their hopes of qualifying for the Champions League.
The upcoming London derby promises to be a contesting one and here are three key battles that could be decisive.
#1 Rice vs. Torreira
Arsenal’s midfielder Lucas Torreira will be raring to go against the Hammers and he is set to lock horns with West Ham United’s Declan Rice in the central midfield. The battle between these two should be fascinating to watch.
Torreira has been one of the most consistent performers for Arsenal this season. The Uruguayan international has brought a lot of steel to his side’s midfield and his interlinking plays with the attackers has been exemplary.
Meanwhile, Rice has also been an instrumental figure in the ranks of Manuel Pellegrini. While Arsenal will look to boss the possession in the middle of the park, it will be Rice’s duty to press the opposition’s midfielders and not let them create space or chances.
#2 Arnautovic vs. Sokratis
The Gunners have been shaky at the back. There is an apparent lack of cohesion among Unai Emery’s defenders and questions will be asked to them by Pellegrini’s men this weekend.
Arsenal will rely heavily on the muscular rigidity of Sokratis. Although the Greek centre-back has been shaky at times, he is arguably the best defender on his side’s books currently and he certainly has to step up.
Meanwhile, Marko Arnautovic is expected to make the most of the drawbacks in Arsenal’s back line. The 29-year-old has already scored 7 goals in 15 Premier League appearances this season and will look to add more to his tally. The one-vs-one fights between them will be something to keep an eye on.
#3 Diop vs. Lacazette
Alexandre Lacazette brings a lot of dynamism for Arsenal in the final third. He links up well with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and his clinical finishing to find the back of the net need no special mention.
Emery’s side have performed a lot better with the French striker on the pitch. His capabilities in the central attacking areas have bamboozled his opponents and therefore, it will be important for Issa Diop to keep Lacazette in check.
Diop has been reliable at the back for the Irons alongside Angelo Ogbonna. Both of them have a strong physique and have been a threat during the set-pieces. They have to be at their very best to nullify Arsenal’s potent attackers.
Statistics Credits: WhoScored