Arsenal have the chance to break into the top four of the Premier League when they host London rivals West Ham this evening.
The Gunners bounced back from consecutive defeats to Manchester United and Everton earlier this month with an impressive 3-0 victory over Southampton at the weekend. The result has left Arsenal sitting sixth in the table – two points adrift of fourth-placed West Ham – so a win tonight would move the Reds into the top four.
Much of the pre-match talk has centred around the news that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been stripped of the Arsenal captaincy following a ‘disciplinary breach’. Alexandre Lacazette is expected to take over the armband tonight but it will be interesting to see who Mikel Arteta picks as his new long-term skipper.
West Ham head to the Emirates Stadium this evening in mixed form as Sunday’s draw at Burnley means they’ve won just one of their last five games in all competitions. However, that win was over Chelsea and the Hammers usually step-up against the big guns so they’ll be looking to take home a positive result from Arsenal tonight.
Aubameyang won’t be involved for Arsenal after being removed as captain so Lacazette should start up front with Eddie Nketiah among the substitutes.
Emile Smith Rowe is pushing for a recall after recovering from a knock and he could replace Gabriel Martinelli on the left flank. Martinelli has been in good form lately but Arteta might give him a rest.
Bernd Leno remains a doubt with a groin injury while Sead Kolasinac misses out for the Gunners due to an ankle injury that will keep him on the sidelines until the New Year.
West Ham will make a late decision over Aaron Cresswell as he’s struggling with a back injury. Kurt Zouma is out with a serious thigh injury so he’s on the sidelines along with long-term absentees Angelo Ogbonna and Ryan Fredericks.
Arsenal:Ramsdale; Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tierney; Xhaka, Partey; Saka, Odegaard, Smith Rowe; Lacazette
West Ham: Fabianski; Coufal, Dawson, Diop, Masuaku; Rice, Soucek; Bowen, Fornals, Benrahma; Antonio