Saturday, 12 January 2019

Ozil & Monreal start | Arsenal’s strongest line-up to face West Ham with Mark Lawrenson's prediction

Arsenal are under pressure to secure a much-needed win and keep the pressure on Chelsea when we take on West Ham at the London Stadium on Saturday lunchtime. This is the line-up I’d like Unai Emery to select…

Goalkeeper: Leno

Cech got a run out against Blackpool in the FA Cup last weekend but Leno is our number one and should be recalled between the sticks tomorrow afternoon.

Defence: Koscielny, Sokratis, Monreal

Arsenal have finally got options in defence after a number of players returned to full training this week. Mustafi has recovered from a hamstring injury but let’s be frank, he’s a walking disaster at times so I’d take any opportunity to leave him out.

Koscielny may not be back to his best yet but even Kos at 50% is better than Mustafi so I’d go with the Frenchman in a back three against West Ham with Sokratis obviously keeping his place.

Monreal is back in contention after overcoming his niggling hamstring injury and I think he’d be perfect to start on the left side of the back three as having a left-footed defender there would give us great balance.

Midfield: Kolasinac, Torreira, Xhaka, Bellerin

We should see some changes in midfield as Torreira and Xhaka will be recalled after being rested for Arsenal’s win at Blackpool last weekend. Elneny and Ramsey will drop out after starting in the FA Cup tie while Guendouzi will have to make do with a place on the bench.

A switch to a back three will unleash Kolasinac in to the left wing-back position and he’s been one of Arsenal’s best attacking outlets this season so hopefully we see the best of him against West Ham.

Maitland-Niles has impressed lately but he’ll drop to the bench tomorrow as Bellerin is back in contention after recovering from a calf injury. His return is huge for Arsenal as he’s been sorely missed in recent weeks. Plus, it means we get to see the back of Lichtsteiner!

Attack: Ozil, Aubameyang, Lacazette

Ozil is back in contention after recovering from a knee injury and it’s going to be interesting to see if he’s recalled by Emery. The boss clearly has concerns about Mesut’s work rate but he’s easily our most creative player and we struggle to carve out chances when he’s not on the pitch. I appreciate he can be a luxury player at times but I’d love to see him start in the No.10 role tomorrow. It’s time for him to get his head down and show us he has the motivation to fight for his place.

For me, we should play with Aubameyang and Lacazette together up front as they are wasted on the wing. This front two is a match for anything in the league and they will score a tone of goals this season. They also have a great understanding so I’d love to see Emery be bold and go with Aubameyang and Lacazette up front and Ozil in the hole against West Ham.

That would mean there is no place for Iwobi but he’d be an option from the bench along with Nketiah. Obviously Mkhitaryan and Welbeck remain on the sidelines due to injury.

Here is the side I hope we’ll see:

Mark Lawrenson states his prediction for West Ham v Arsenal

Mark Lawrenson is backing Arsenal to ease to a comfortable win against West Ham United at the London Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The Gunners will make the short trip across the English capital looking to keep pressure on fourth-placed Chelsea FC in the race to secure a Champions League spot.

Arsenal have only managed to win three of their last six Premier League games to lose ground on Maurizio Sarri’s men in the race to secure a top-four finish.

Unai Emery’s men are winless in their last four Premier League games on the road and have only managed to beat Bournemouth in their last six outings.

Arsenal will take on a West Ham side that has been contending with speculation surrounding their star striker this week after Marko Arnautovic was linked with a move to the Chinese Super League.

The Hammers are in mid table and are without a win in their last two Premier League fixtures.

Former Liverpool FC defender Lawrenson is backing Arsenal to ease to victory over West Ham United in their Premier League clash on Saturday afternoon.

“Normal service will be resumed this weekend in terms of Premier League teams going with their strongest line-ups after resting players last week – not just here, but across the division,” Lawrenson told BBC Sport .

“In the Premier League, the Hammers’ form has been very up and down in recent weeks, but the same could be said about the Gunners.”

Lawrenson added: “I am going for an Arsenal win here, but it is clear that Unai Emery still has a lot of work to do.

“He has only been in charge for half a season and I think that, when they come up against the top teams, the same problems still remain.

“The main issue is at the back. Would I back them defensively? No, absolutely not. Too many of their defenders are not Champions League level, which is the standard they need them to be at.

“Both of these sides are safely into the next round of the FA Cup after beating lower league sides – I was at Blackpool for BBC Radio 5 live to see Arsenal cruise through.”

Arsenal haven’t won the Premier League title since 2003-04 when the Gunners finished the season unbeaten under Emery’s predecessor Arsene Wenger.

The Gunners appointed Emery as Wenger’s replacement in the summer.

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