Premier League football returns after the World Cup break as leaders Arsenal entertain West Ham at the Emirates Stadium on Boxing Day.
The Gunners enjoyed a sensational start to the 2022/23 campaign and have been the surprise package so far. Mikel Arteta’s men went into the new season aiming to break into the top four, but find themselves leading the way after winning 12 of their 14 games before the World Cup hiatus.
Arsenal are five points clear of defending champions Manchester City and are now eyeing an unexpected title charge during the second half of the season. They get back to action on Boxing Day and Arteta will be hoping to pick up where they left off and that the extended break hasn’t derailed their momentum.
West Ham make the trip across London in dire need of points as they are in danger of being involved in a relegation dogfight this season. Having finished in the top seven last season, the Hammers were expected to push on and compete for the European places once again this campaign.
However, David Moyes is under increasing pressure after a disastrous start with West Ham winning just four of their 15 Premier League games so far. It’s left them sitting 16th in the table and just one point from the drop zone, so they desperately need a positive result at the Emirates.
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Looking at this game, it’s no surprise to see that Arsenal are the odds-on 1/2 favourites with the betting sites to claim all three points. West Ham can be backed at odds of 11/2 to pull off a shock at the Emirates Stadium while the draw is available at 16/5.
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Blow for Gunners
Arsenal suffered a major blow during the World Cup after star striker Gabriel Jesus suffered a serious knee injury while playing for Brazil. The 25-year-old has undergone surgery and will be out for around 3 months.
However, despite the absence of Jesus, Arsenal should still have too much quality for West Ham on Boxing Day and will be expected to ease to another victory. Eddie Nketiah is ready to lead the line up front while Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli should be ready to start after returning from the World Cup is good shape.
However, Arteta has other injury concerns to worry about as Emile Smith Rowe is still working his way back from injury while Oleksandr Zinchenko is also not yet fully fit from a calf problem.
Reiss Nelson is a major doubt after picking up a knock during the friendly defeat to Juventus last weekend while Takehiro Tomiyasu is being assessed due to a hamstring strain.
West Ham also have their own injury problems with Michail Antonio on the treatment table with a thigh injury while Max Cornet is also a doubt with a calf issue.
Aaron Creswell and Gianluca Scamacca are also doubts while Nayef Agerd and Kurt Zouma are certain to miss out.
It will be interesting to see how the teams perform so soon after the World Cup break. Arsenal have injury issues and Jesus will be a huge miss for them as he’s been a revelation since arriving last summer. However, the North Londoners should still be too strong in the end for their London rivals and we expect them to get the job done on home soil. Arsenal 3-1 West Ham