After a wait of 44 days, we’re finally back in Premier League action on Boxing Day when West Ham United cross the capital for an 8pm kick-off at Emirates Stadium.
We know we’ll head into the game top of the table after moving five points clear after beating Wolves in our last league outing on November 12, while the Hammers are just a point ahead of the bottom three in 16th, having won just once in their last six games.
They have not enjoyed their trips to Emirates Stadium over recent times, losing 11 of their last 12 visits, while David Moyes has never tasted success as an opposition manager on the road to us in 21 previous attempts.
Season of domestic struggle
The first period of the season was a frustrating one for the Hammers, who collected 10 of their 14-point haul during a purple patch in October that saw Moyes’ side beat Wolves, Fulham and Bournemouth.
Aside from that, there hasn’t been too much to cheer for the east Londoners, who lost their opening three games and went into the World Cup break in similar form, suffering defeats to Manchester United, Crystal Palace and Leicester City.
Having suffered a Carabao Cup exit at the hands of Blackburn Rovers, at least the Europa Conference League has brought some joy, with eight wins coming from eight games and seeing the Hammers top their group ahead of Anderlecht, Silkeborg and FCSB.
The World Cup break
The Hammers had five players at the tournament, Declan Rice starting all five of England’s games in Qatar, while Alphonse Areola was a member of the France squad but didn’t feature in the tournament.
Thilo Kehrer suffered a disappointing exit with Germany, while Lucas Paqueta reached the quarter-finals with Brazil. Nayef Aguerd meanwhile enjoyed a historic run to the semi-finals with Morocco, but missed the latter stages after being forced off in the quarter-final victory against Spain.
Back in England, Cambridge United were beaten 4-2 before a trip to Italy where Udinese were dispatched 3-1. Last weekend saw another London derby as they travelled to Fulham, where they played out a 1-1 draw with Jarrod Bowen grabbing a second half equaliser.
Michael Cox, writing in the official matchday programme: Moyes has generally used a 4-4-1-1 formation this season. Kurt Zouma has been the most dependable performer at the back, with newcomer Kehrer fielded either in the centre or at right-back. Aaron Cresswell remains a dependable option down the left, and can tuck inside to become a third centre-back if needed.
The central midfield duo is, almost without fail, Rice alongside Tomas Soucek. Rice has provided some of West Ham’s best moments this season by carrying the ball forward, while Soucek is about off-the-ball running and providing an aerial threat in the box.
Ahead of them, Bowen’s form has been up and down, but his directness from the right causes serious problems. Pablo Fornals offers both technical quality and lots of stamina, Said Benrahma is an elusive playmaker capable of shooting from range, and Flynn Downes has impressed when breaking forward from midfield.
The most promising thing about West Ham’s performances has been the link-up play between the two newcomers, Paqueta and Gianluca Scamacca, with the latter's arrival meaning Michail Antonio has generally been used from the bench.
What the managers say
Arteta on West Ham: "They are very dangerous. I know for sure [Moyes] has been working the team really hard since he took over. He absolutely maximized the potential of that team, and took them to a different level.
"I’m sure they have been working really hard like we all have been in this period. It will be a very difficult contest." - hear everything from Mikel's pre-match press conference
Moyes: "It's a really tough game to come back to. With them being in the form they were in, they’ll be desperate to try and get off to the same start.
"But we need to try and show that we are improved, and we need to get our international players back and ready to play because we've got a really important second half of the season coming up."
We will be without Gabriel Jesus who underwent knee surgery after injuring himself in action for Brazil in Qatar, while it remains to be seen if William Saliba will feature after reaching the final with France.
Emile Smith Rowe is still undergoing rehab following his groin surgery, while Oleksandr Zinchenko sat out our friendlies in Dubai and against Juventus - a game in which Reiss Nelson limped off early and is set to miss the next few weeks - hear more from Mikel about the latest injury situation.
Scamacca was substituted after just 12 minutes of the Fulham friendly after rolling his ankle but is expected to recover, as is Aguerd from the injury sustained during the World Cup. There are also concerns over Cresswell (hamstring) and Antonio (thigh), who have missed action recently.
Zouma underwent knee surgery during the break and didn't feature in any of the warm-up games, and that was the same for summer recruit Maxwel Cornet, who also missed the last seven league games with a calf issue and isn't expect to return for a while.
Facts and stats
Eddie Nketiah has scored 10 goals in his last 10 starts in all competitions at the Emirates, notching those from just 15 shots on target.
We’ve not won four in a row league games in a row without conceding since April/May 2014.
We have suffered defeat just twice in our last 28 Premier League games against West Ham, winning 21 of those. In fact, we have only beaten Everton (35) more often than the Hammers (34) in the division.
This is the third time the two sides are meeting in a Premier League match on Boxing Day, with us winning 1-0 at home in 1998 and 3-1 away in 2013.
We have won our last 10 home games on Boxing Day, last suffering a home defeat on the day after Christmas back in 1987 against Nottingham Forest. The Hammers meanwhile have won just one of their last eight Boxing Day games (D3 L4), beating Swansea City 4-1 in 2016.
We have won each of our last nine Premier League home games, with six of these coming this season. Victory against West Ham would equal our longest winning home run from the start of a top-flight campaign, matching 1934/35, 2005/06 and 2017/18.
West Ham have lost their last three Premier League games, last losing four in a row within the same campaign back in 2018/19. The Hammers have lost 11 Premier League away games in 2022, their most on the road in a single calendar year since 2013.
Moyes has lost more away games against us in all competitions than he has any other opponent (17).
Fresh from returning from the World Cup where he oversaw three matches, including Croatia's penalty shootout win over Brazil, Michael Oliver takes charge of us for the third time this season, having been in the middle for our wins over Liverpool and Chelsea - which was his last domestic outing.
It will be the 50th time he has taken charge of one of our games, and we have won 22 of the previous 49. He refereed the corresponding fixture back in 2020/21, which saw us win 2-1 thanks to a late Nketiah strike.
- Referee: Michael Oliver
- Assistant Referee: Stuart Burt
- Assistant Referee: Simon Bennett
- Fourth official: Graham Scott
- VAR: Darren England
- Additional VAR: Darren Cann
Recent visits from the Hammers
We have won each of our last seven home meetings with West Ham, stretching back to 2016/17. Last season saw us claim a 2-0 victory, with Smith Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli grabbing goals either side of Vladimir Coufal’s sending-off and Alexandre Lacazette’s penalty miss.
The season before, Nketiah popped up with the crucial goal five minutes from time to clinch victory, while Lacazette was the matchwinner back in March 2020 when he netted the only goal of the game in the 78th minute.
See more classic action from our home games against the Hammers in our playlist
Tune in to Arsenal.com and the official app from 7pm on Monday for all the best build-up to the meeting with the Hammers!
Nicole Holliday and Adrian Clarke will be at Emirates Stadium, chatting about what went on during the World Cup break, looking back at our friendly matches, and taking an in-depth look at the first section of the season.
Then from 8pm, they'll hand over to Dan Roebuck and Perry Groves for live commentary of the game.
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