Before every Arsenal fixture, we’ll bring you a Scouting Report on the Gunners’ next opponents.
Arsène Wenger's side host West Ham United at Emirates Stadium on Saturday. To find out more, we asked tactical expert Michael Cox.
Sam Allardyce's brand of physical, long-ball football has caused Arsenal plenty of problems over the years, although West Ham are currently without a win in seven matches in all competitions, and lie in mid-table after an excellent opening to the campaign.
The Hammers have received plenty of praise for a more progressive, attack-minded style of football than last season, and the statistics support this theory.
Their numbers are up in terms of average possession share, pass completion rate and shots on target, although whether this is a consequence of a deliberate shift from Allardyce is questionable.
The reality is probably more simple: they brought in two quality strikers in Diafra Sakho and Enner Valencia, plus two excellent midfielders in former Gunner Alex Song, and Cheikhou Kouyate. It's natural that they've dominated games more.
Nine-goal Sakho and four-goal Valencia are likely to form a versatile front three alongside Stewart Downing. At various points this season, they've been the attacking trio in a 4-3-1-2, a 4-3-2-1, or a 4-3-3, and while occasionally they all end up in narrow positions, it's been interesting to see how West Ham have continued crossing the ball frequently, with Downing given license to drift across the pitch towards either flank.
He's recorded eight league assists this season, partly because Sakho, who should play as the centre forward, and Valencia, who can move deeper and wider, both excel in the air. Set-pieces are also a useful route to goal for Allardyce's side.
Song and Kouyate should start alongside Mark Noble in midfield. This is also a trio capable of playing in various formats, with Noble pulling the strings and breaking up play from deep, and both Song and Kouyate able to storm forward to provide attacking impetus when needed.
Arsenal should expect to dominate possession, but this won't be a passive opposition that will solely look to play on the break - West Ham can now compete in midfield.
At the back, Carl Jenkinson is ineligible to play against his parent club so Joey O'Brien will probably start on the right, with the impressive Aaron Cresswell given more license to fly forward from left back. The centre-backs - James Tomkins and either Winston Reid or James Collins, depending on the former's fitness - are better aerially than on the ground.
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