Preview: Arsenal v West Ham
18 Mar 2010 - 15:32:11
Arsenal and West Ham United meet in a London affair in the Premier League at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday evening and it will be the home side that will be striving to continue their title charge with another resounding victory.
The Gunners have lost just twice on their own backyard this term - to fellow high-flyers Chelsea and Manchester United - and Gianfranco Zola's men may be in for a long shift.
To make matters that little bit more ominous, Arsene Wenger's classy outfit have racked up five successive wins in all competitions.
They sit just two points adrift of the Red Devils, who top the table, and sit in third behind Chelsea, virtue of goal difference as they continue to surprise many with their efforts this term.
Zola and his players are continuing to disillusion their fans as they fail to find any form of consistency.
The Hammers picked up valuable wins against Birmingham City and Hull City last month, but three successive defeats away to Manchester United, Bolton Wanderers at home and at Chelsea have left the Upton Park club in the thick of it at the wrong end of the table.
Burnley, who occupy the third and final relegation zone position, are three points behind their fellow Clarets and West Ham are certainly not out of the woods yet.
With one win on their travels all season, a home win looks to be the only scenario, with Arsenal picking up 37 out of a possible 45 at their base in the north of the capital.
Wenger must once again do without a number of first-team stars for the weekend derby clash.
Defenders Bacary Sagna (ankle), William Gallas (calf), Johan Djourou (knee) and Kieran Gibbs (metatarsal fracture) are all missing.
Striker Robin van Persie is nearing a return after his lengthy ankle problem with Tomas Rosicky (groin) and captain Cesc Fabregas (hamstring) struggling for fitness.
Aaron Ramsey, who suffered a horrific leg break at Stoke City last month, will not make a return until next season.
West Ham's Herita Ilunga is nearing full-fitness following a calf injury but Mark Noble (calf), Zavon Hines (knee) and Luis Boa Morte (cruciate ligament) remain unavailable.
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