It’s a London derby of upmost importance, as struggling sides West Ham United and Arsenal duel in a pivotal clash at the Emirates Stadium Wednesday evening.
With the Hammers in possible threat of falling into a relegation fight, their four match losing streak and six match winless streak seem destine to continue against a regular Top six power. Add to that their 5-1 thrashing at the hands of the Gunners at the London Stadium in the fall, and the hopes of a positive result for Slaven Bilic’s side seem unlikely.
But Arsene Wenger’s side are in turmoil themselves, as Bilic isn’t the only manager in London concerned about his job status. Gone is a guaranteed top four finish, as it will take a near flawless finish to the end of the season for Arsenal to continue their impressive Champions League appearance streak. Mired in sixth place, the home side are in desperate need of a win even more than West Ham.
For Bilic, he sees a return to the 18 for Diafra Sakho, as the Senegalese international is on the bench. Winston Reid and Aaron Cresswell are out, but captain Mark Noble returns to the starting lineup after his absence at Hull on Saturday.
Meanwhile for Arsenal, neither Petr Cech nor David Ospina is available, meaning that Wenger has turned to third choice goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez. Another key injury for the Gunners is centerback Laurent Koscielny, as he is out with an Achilles problem.
Both teams need not lose tonight, or the pressure will only ratchet up even further on them. We’ll find out in what is almost always an exciting fixture to watch.
LINEUPS AND BENCH
Outside of the end of the first half (and Masuaku fortunate to not be penalized after being clumsy against Walcott), this poll represents most of the half for a key contest.