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Arsenal vs West Ham United Key Battles

Arsenal will cross swords with West Ham United in a much-anticipated London derby on Thursday evening at the Emirates Stadium in the Premier League.

Last time out, the Gunners drew 1-1 with Liverpool at Anfield. It was a good point in the end given the north London side have not enjoyed top-flight success on Liverpool’s turf for 11 years. On the other hand, the Hammers ran out 2-0 winners over an off-colour Manchester United in the league—the exact response David Moyes would have wanted following his team’s 5-1 trouncing at the hands of Liverpool in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals last week.

With a mouthwatering clash on the cards, let us take a look at the key battles on the pitch.

#Bukayo Saka vs Emerson Palmieri

Bukayo Saka had a good game overall against Liverpool, and Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta will want his winger to carry on his fine form against David Moyes’ West Ham. Due to the England international’s mix of technical skills and pace, it is hard to keep a trail of his activities.

Emerson Palmieri will have to be on guard if he desires to pocket Saka in this encounter. The Italy international has been a key figure in West Ham’s backline this season, cementing his place at left-back with consistent performances. How he copes with the in-form Arsenal star in this London derby will be an intriguing watch.

#Mohammed Kudus vs Oleksandr Zinchenko

At the other end of the pitch, Mohammed Kudus is likely to square up against Oleksandr Zinchenko.

After a slow start to his West Ham career, Kudus has now become one of the first names on Moyes’ teamsheet. The Ghanaian made sure to continue his fine form last weekend by scoring in the 2-0 win over Man United. Due to his speed of thought, trickery and vision, monitoring his movements could prove to be a rigorous job. Therefore, Zinchenko will have his work cut out.

Zinchenko is not one of the best 1v1 defenders in the league, and that was further demonstrated in Arsenal’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool as he struggled to contain Mohamed Salah. He will be the weak link in the Arsenal defence, something Moyes would look to target by instructing Kudus to be more direct and decisive with his actions on and off the ball.

If Kudus is allowed to flex his creative muscles, he could earn the Hammers a shot at victory.

#Declan Rice vs Lucas Paqueta

It is safe to say that Declan Rice has now very much become a part of Arsenal’s furniture, and he will be raring to put a strong display against his former employers in midweek. The England international was superb against Liverpool in the middle of the park—snuffing out danger, oozing composure when progressing the ball from deep and communicating constantly with his teammates.

On Thursday, Rice’s main task will be controlling the flow of the game, as well as stopping Lucas Paqueta from having a say in the game. Paqueta has stepped up in recent weeks, and the Brazilian playmaker’s sharpness to exploit gaps and shift feet quickly around the box were on full display against Man United. He supplied the assists for both West Ham goals last weekend and will again act as the creative focal point for his team at the Emirates Stadium.

Once teammates at the London Stadium, whoever comes out on top between Rice and Paqueta could decide victory for their teams.

Rohan Sengupta

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