It seems as if every game remaining in Arsenal’s season is beginning to look like a cup final, and the Gunners have to pick up victory to maintain pressure on the top spot.
But in the most Arsenal way possible, they now face a trip down the road to face a side that none of the big teams have faired well against this season.
West Ham have conquered the top dogs on multiple occasions so far this season, and their opening day 2-0 victory at the Emirates Stadium still gives many supporters sleepless nights.
However, after suffering a difficult spell Arsene Wenger is beginning to mount a strong finish to the campaign following comfortable victories over Everton and Watford.
Both bosses have a near-complete squad to utilise on Saturday afternoon, with the Gunners hoping to welcome some more faces into the match-day squad.
Arsenal are set to reinstate both Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini into the picture after the duo performed well in mid-week training sessions.
There was also good news regarding the recovery of Jack Wilshere and Thomas Rosicky, who both featured for the Under-21’s last night. They will both want to pick up valuable minutes as the season draws to a close.
Petr Cech is rumoured to be returning to the starting XI despite the impressive performances from stand-in goalkeeper David Ospina, who could be sold in the summer.
The only injuries that Wenger has to contest with now is long-term absentee Santi Cazorla and English international Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who is still targeting a place at Euro 2016.
Arsenal Injuries: Santi Cazorla (knee) Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (leg)
Slaven Bilic revealed that he too has a good set of players to work with this weekend, as he aims to keep the pressure on Manchester United and Southampton for a Europa League place.
Despite joining the club in January, Sam Byram has had an awful start to his Hammers career and will be lucky to return to defensive duties before the end of the season.
Also on the sidelines is the veteran James Collins, and although he’s returned to training Bilic is willing to risk throwing him back into action just yet.
West Ham Injuries: James Collins (hamstring), Sam Byram (knock)
One To Watch
Arsenal: Alex Iwobi
A rising star in this squad and making a bold statement to the likes of Theo Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain, the youngster has made a massive impression on this first team.
In the space of a month Iwobi has made his international debut with Nigeria, picked up his first Champions League start against Barcelona and currently has two goals in two PL games.
There’s no fairytale story here though because the 19-year-old has shown all of the characteristics of a player who’s been in the game for 20 years, he’s mature, disciplined and passionate.
Keep your eye on him because his versatility allows him to switch between positions in that familiar front three, and don’t be surprised if you see the young Gun on the scoresheet.
West Ham: Dimitri Payet
Where do we start with this man? Sensational in almost every game he’s been on the pitch, Payet is feared by anyone at the moment with his game-winning free-kicks.
Agile and confident it’s interesting that Wenger stated he passed on the chance to sign the French international, stating that Ozil, Alexis and Ramsey were all at the club already.
Whether that statement is true or not Payet has displayed all of the required attributes to make it in this demanding league, and after signing a long-term contract with the club he’ll be sticking around for a while.
Nobody has really found a way to stop him so far this season, but lesson number one is not to give away any cheap set pieces in and around the area, perhaps a reason Gabriel might not start.
Defeat in this game and any chance of the Premier League title coming to the Emirates will inevitably be over, so Wenger will put his faith in first-choice man Petr Cech.
In defence things look slightly similar to the previous two games, where Arsenal have scored six and conceded none, but Gabriel’s discipline will be tested, he can’t afford to give away any cheap free-kicks.
It seems we’ve finally found our perfect relationship in central defensive midfield, with Mohamed Elneny and Francis Coquelin we have freedom to play a more dangerous game in the final third.
With Iwobi’s confidence shining through Wenger has plenty of options in the front three, but things will stay the same from the Watford tie, with Mesut Ozil still stuck on 18 assists.
Up top and establishing himself as the man to lead the line is Danny Welbeck, he hasn’t scored in a while so has to show something in order to finish the season as top dog.
Predicted XI: Cech, Bellerin, Gabriel, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Elneny, Iwobi, Ozil, Alexis, Welbeck
West Ham (4-2-3-1)
Bilic’s side have slipped up in form recently after drawing the game from winning positions, but that’s had very little to do with goalkeeper Adrian, who’s been incredibly underrated all season.
With very limited options in defence following the injuries of Byram, Collins and the former on-loan Carl Jenkinson, the Hammers have to stick with a predictable back four.
After Cheick Kouyate’s red card was rightfully overturned by the FA, he’ll join Mark Noble at the heart of defence, the captain will want to end his years at Upton Park on a high.
This new-look front three has captured the hearts of many neutral supporters throughout the season, and that man Dimitri Payet will be required to push his side on.
Bilic has four options to go with in terms of his sole striker, but it looks to be Diafra Sakho who gets the nod following a series of impressive performances, Andy Carroll will be itching to get on.
Predicted XI: Adrian, Tomkins, Reid, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Noble, Kouyate, Lanzini, Payet, Antonio, Sakho
Prediction: West Ham 2 – 2 Arsenal
Both of these sides have goals in them and you can see it being a very open tie with both teams needing a win to keep up with their season’s targets.
West Ham will have the crowd rocking as they enter the final few games in this legendary stadium, and that could be key to lifting their side ahead of an FA Cup semi-final in mid-week.
Arsenal will need the victory just as much as their London counterparts, but frustration will get the better of them and you can see this ending with the points shared.
What would your starting XI be for this one, and do you think Arsenal can still win the league? Let us know your thoughts by commenting below!