Sitting seven points behind fourth-placed Tottenham, albeit with a game in hand, Arsenal are in danger of falling into a position of once again needing a dramatic late season run to preserve their long streak of Champions League qualification.
While their surge last campaign provides encouragement, Arsene Wenger knows the importance of snapping their run of two straight Premier League defeats.
“It gives me confidence but it is also frustrating as we don't want to be in this position,” he said, according to Arsenal’s official website. “We want to challenge for the championship and therefore now until the end of the season we really have to stand up and show our strength and character.
“Last season we came from further behind and finished third but Chelsea are a bit away from us now. The game that we lost at Chelsea on Sunday had difficult mathematical consequences.”
A match against West Ham would appear to be a pretty good place for Arsenal to start trying to find some consistency. The Gunners are unbeaten in their last 10 games with the Hammers, winning eight. One of Wenger’s side’s most impressive results of the season came with a 3-1 victory at Upton Park back in October.
On Wednesday they will also be welcoming a side to the Emirates that are struggling for form themselves, with West Ham having taken just five points from the last 21 on offer.
Sam Allardyce is short of options up front with Marouane Chamakh ineligible to play against his parent club and Andy Carroll still at least a week away from a return. A late decision is expected to be made on the fitness of defender James Collins.
Arsenal are expected to have Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski back after both missed Sunday’s defeat to Chelsea through illness. Francis Coquelin will miss out with a hamstring injury, though, while Mikel Arteta is not yet ready for a return.
D: Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs
M: Diaby, Wilshere
Walcott, Cazorla, Podolski
West Ham (probable)
D: Demel, Tomkins, Reid, O’Brien
M: Noble, Diame
Cole, Nolan, Jarvis
Prediction: It will be intriguing to see the likely battle between the two similarly dynamic midfielders—Abou Diaby and Mohamed Diame. Diaby still looks short of match fitness, while Diame has been talked of as a target for Arsenal in this month’s transfer window.
That contest could be important, but Arsenal still look to be big favorites to get the three points. West Ham are struggling of late and have been poor away from home all season.
Arsenal 2-0 West Ham
Where to watch: The Barclays Premier League encounter will kick-off at 2.45 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by the Fox Soccer Channel, with a delayed online stream available later in the day on Fox Soccer 2Go.