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PL Preview: Arsenal vs. West Ham

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  • Last time Arsenal lost its first 3 league games was 1954
  • West Ham has beat Arsenal once in its last 22 meetings
  • Arsenal is unbeaten in last 9 home London derbies

Arsenal has its best chance yet to gain its first points under Unai Emery as they host West Ham at the Emirates on Saturday at 10:00 a.m. ET on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com.

The Gunners are without a point after losses to Chelsea and Manchester City, and the team has struggled to show improvement under Emery to this point. Should they falter again, pressure could build with the built-in excuse of a difficult first two fixtures now passed.

[ LIVE STREAM: Arsenal vs. West Ham ]

Emery has no new injury problems to deal with, as other than Carl Jenkinson, Sead Kolasinac, Laurent Koscielny and Ainsley Maitland-Niles all out long-term, everyone is fit. West Ham, meanwhile, will be missing captain Mark Noble who picked up a back injury, while Andy Carroll, Manuel Lanzini and Winston Reid all remain out.

The Hammers sit 19th in the table with zero points and a -5 goal differential after losses to Liverpool and Bournemouth. They squandered a lead last time out, wasting a 1-0 lead to the Cherries to fall 2-1. They have just four wins since January 20th. Midfielder Jack Wilshere is set to play his former club and lead the midfield in Noble’s absence.

What they’re saying

Arsenal playmaker Henrikh Mhkitaryan on the team’s struggles: “We don’t feel any pressure. We are not thinking that something is going wrong because we are moving in the right way even if we lost two games. I don’t know why people are criticizing so much. I’m not paying attention because I know if I’ve played bad or well.”

West Ham attacker Marko Arnautovic on Arsenal: “They have a new coach and a new team and they are trying to achieve big things because they are a top club. But there is no reason why we can’t take points there because they are also human beings.”

Prediction

West Ham is struggling to find its way, and the Gunners need a win desperately, and Arsenal will channel that motivation to a 2-0 road victory.

Season preview: Pellegrini the man to meet West Ham’s ambition?

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West Ham United at a glance

Premier League titles: 0
FA Cups: 3 (1964, 1975, 1980)
League Cups: 0
UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup: 1 (1965/66)

[ MORE: 2018-19 PL season preview hub ]  


They will challenge for the Top Six because… Pellegrini is simply a different class of manager to their recent bosses, and has a better grip on massaging bigger egos in a bigger squad. Marko Arnautovic is a tough mark up-top, and should be further freed by the addition of Brazilian winger Felipe Anderson. The full backs are good, especially Arthur Masuaku, and Lukasz Fabianski is an upgrade on the Joe Hart-Adrian combination.

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They’ll again stumble and find themselves in a relegation scrap… Last season’s demons hit the club on and off the pitch, and fan anger is just a moment away. Arnautovic is a combustible character, and the club is an injury or two away from counting on Mark Noble.


Transfers in: Felipe Anderson ($43 million, Lazio), Issa Diop ($29 million, Toulouse), Andriy Yarmolenko ($23 million, Borussia Dortmund), Lukasz Fabianski ($9 million, Swansea City), Fabian Balbuena ($5 million, Corinthians), Ryan Fredericks (free, Fulham), Jack Wilshere (free, Arsenal).

Transfers outCheikhou Kouyate ($12 million, Crystal Palace), Reece Burke ($2.5 million, Hull City), James Collins (free agent), Patrice Evra (free agent)


Best possible XI

—– Fabianski —–

—- Fredericks — Diop —  Ogbonna — Masuaku —- 

—- Rice — Wilshere — Obiang—-

—- Anderson —- Arnautovic —- Yarmolenko


Ranking their offseason: 7/10 – Anderson missed significant time last season but was a big part of Lazio’s strong second half to the season. Yarmolenko has been productive in multiple top leagues, and Jack Wilshere on a free is a big deal. If Issa Diop can stand firm in his first Premier League season, this figure might be an 8/10 or better.


Star player: Marko Arnautovic –  Yes, the striker often gets top billing in these preview pieces, but it’s hard to debate another player as West Ham’s star when this Austria menace is on his game. The 29-year-old matched his career-best output of 11 goals and six assists.

Coaches’ CornerManuel Pellegrini — The Premier League winner returns to England, this time in London. He’s been successful in both league and Cup play, which could bode well for West Ham’s hopes of taking a step into Europe via an alternative route.


PST Predicts: Comfortably midtable, but just below the radar of making a threat to the Top Six.

Jack Wilshere joins West Ham United

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Jack Wilshere has signed for West Ham United, the club he supported as a boy.

[ MORE: England bring pride, unity

Wilshere, 26, left Arsenal on July 1 after his contract expired and he failed to agree a new deal, and he’s now made the move across London to sign with the Hammers on a three-year deal.

The creative midfielder has been at Arsenal his entire career after graduating from their academy and making his pro debut at the age of 16, but he has been seriously hampered by injuries in recent seasons and lost his place in the England squad as a result of those struggles.

Speaking to West Ham about his move to the London Stadium, here’s what Wilshere had to say as he joins the club his father and brother support.

“It feels good, it feels special. Many people know that I’ve had a special bond with this club growing up,” Wilshere explained. “People will have seen the picture of me in a West Ham shirt and I’ve got good memories of my childhood supporting West Ham, watching them at Upton Park. It feels good and of course my family and a few of my friends are West Ham fans so everyone’s buzzing.”

Wilshere went on to explain that Manuel Pellegrini becoming the new West Ham manager was a key part of his decision to join them, while the pull of playing at the London Stadium was another.

“The fans, of course – everyone knows how big West Ham’s fanbase is – and especially in this new Stadium,” Wilshere said. “Not many clubs could fill it week in, week out, and West Ham do. I want to be playing here in front of the Hammers, and my bond I’ve had with the Club over my childhood will make it even more special.”

Wilshere’s career now has the opportunity to get back on track as he will undoubtedly be West Ham’s go-to guy in central midfield. What that means for players such as Mark Noble, Pedro Obiang and Cheikhou Kouyate remains to be seen but Wilshere will play regularly, as long as he’s fit, and his class on the ball is undoubted.

Even last season he showed flashes of brilliance for Arsenal as he worked his way back to full-fitness and with a host of clubs lined up to sign him, Wilshere has chosen to remain in London and in the Premier League.

Entering the prime of his career, he now has the perfect chance to become a hero at West Ham and prove to Arsenal what they’re missing. With 34 England caps to his name, he will be aiming to get back into Gareth Southgate‘s squad but first and foremost he needs to stay fit.

If he does that and replicates his best form, West Ham have a great chance of challenging for a European spot this season.

Manuel Pellegrini takes the reins at West Ham United

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West Ham United was said to be chasing Rafa Benitez, and instead got a manager with more recent big time success.

Manuel Pellegrini is the new boss at West Ham, returning to the league which saw him guide Manchester City to a Premier League title and two League Cups.

[ MORE: Man Utd after pair of mids ]

The 64-year-old Chilean is well-traveled, and most recently managed Hebei China Fortune. He was released from his contract with the Chinese Super League side last week.

Pellegrini has also led Villarreal, Real Madrid, and Malaga since arriving from South America in 2004.

From WHUFC.com:

“I think that West Ham had a difficult season last season and I hope that next season we are going to play football that will delight the fans. I always play attacking football and we must try to reach important targets in the season.

“Every time you have a meeting you have feelings about whether it was a good meeting or a bad meeting and I had the meeting with him, just talking about football and talking about West Ham.  We agreed on a lot of things he wants for this Club in the way I think a football club must be managed, so we have a lot of common ideas.”

Pellegrini is missing more than a few elements to play the way he’d like to play, and his arrival could spell the end for long-time players like Mark Noble. It could also be a boon for Pablo Zabaleta as the former Man City pair is reunited in London.

West Ham has spent freely in recent years, and Pellegrini’s status could help it land a breed of player unavailable to Sam Allardyce, Slaven Bilic, and David Moyes.

West Ham 3-1 Everton: Lanzini, Arnautovic finish off Toffees

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Everton will head into the off-season on a down note as West Ham had the last laugh on the final day with a 3-1 win at the Olympic Stadium. Manuel Lanzini scored in the first half and Marko Arnautovic bagged one in the second half to give the Hammers the final three points of the season.

West Ham started well and had a spectacular early chance as Arnautovic played a brilliant one-two with Mark Noble to carve up the Everton defense, but Toffees goalkeeper Jordan Pickford made a fabulous save to keep the latter out.

The Hammers were forced into an early change as Arthur Masuaku turned his ankle and was forced off, replaced in the 21st minute by Edmilison Fernandes. They worked another big opportunity as West Ham striker shot low five minutes later, and while he beat Pickford, he just barely beat the post as well.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Everton had its first big chance in the 32nd minute as West Ham defender Angelo Ogbonna made a meal of a long-ball, leaving Everton striker Cenk Tosun clean through on goal, but Adrian made a fantastic save. West Ham had a handball shout near the end of the 1st half as Tosun tried to defend a low cross to the middle of the box, hitting his arm as he slid towards the ground, but the referee waved it off saying the incident was inadvertent and unavoidable.

The opener came seven minutes before the halftime break, one of the messier goals you’ll see. Chiek Kouyate spun in the middle third and looked to play Arnautovic in through the middle, but the pass threw Arnautovic for a loop and he was unable to control. Luckily, Lanzini was right there to latch onto the misplaced pass, and somehow the Everton defense suddenly appeared lost as Lanzini took the space given to him at the top of the box and fired a low shot past Pickford and tucked inside the right post for the game’s first goal. The strike was a deserved lead for the home side who had mostly dominated the opening frame.

[ MORE: Final Premier League standings ]

Everton had a bright start to the second half, having brought on Davy Klassen for Ramiro Funes Mori at the break. Sam Allardyce then brought Theo Walcott on at the hour mark in exchange for Tosun, who was visibly angry with coming off.

It made no difference, as West Ham went 2-0 up moments later on a fabulous goal by Arnautovic. He received the ball in space above the box, turned and shook Michael Keane, and fired into the to the top-right corner giving Pickford no chance. The Hammers had a third in the back of the net on 68 minutes, but on the Arnautovic free-kick, Aaron Cresswell was correctly judged to be offside as he headed home the goal.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Everton got one back in the 75th minute through Oumar Niasse on a corner as the ball pinged around the box, not cleared before it fell to Niasse at the near post for the striker to smash home for his eighth of the season. That would be as close as they get, because Lanzini grabbed another for West Ham to put it away. Against a pair of defenders, Lanzini cut inside on his right foot and fired a curler that Pickford could only get his fingertips to before it tucked inside the back of the net. Adrian made sure to protect the lead with an impressive double save with five minutes to go.

The win pushes West Ham up a number of spots on the final day, sitting them in 13th with 42 points. For Everton, they end the year with 49 points, enough for a top-half finish in eighth.