Arsene Wenger was understandably disappointed with referee Mike Dean after his team’s stalemate against Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea at the Emirates. Dean’s decisions Monday night were surprising and ought to be reviewed by the Football Association as a few rough fouls and a penalty appeal were unfairly waved off and Arsenal were left to rue two valuable points dropped which would had otherwise seen them catapult Liverpool into first place heading into the clashes on Boxing Day. The Gunners look to turn their disappointing form around when they take on Sam Allardyce’s West Ham United who themselves have been struggling to stay out of the relegation zone this season.
Arsenal had the upper hand in possession against the Blues but struggled to put together the clinical touches needed to put the game away. They have now gone three matches without a victory in the Premier League and have dropped seven valuable points in the process. Their next match against the Hammers suddenly holds increased significance now as the Gunners look to preserve their title hopes and keep pace with the top four.
Wenger surprisingly chose not to make any substitutions against the Blues, arguing that his starting eleven looked in balance in attack and physically fit to play all 90 minutes. The game against West Ham might see a few changes as per his rotation policy. Lukas Podolski would be raring for a start after returning from injury, and Mesut Ozil needs a well-deserved rest as he virtually played every minute after joining the team at the transfer window deadline. Olivier Giroud has not been firing like he used to, and his rut continued against Chelsea’s defensive minded outfit — although he had a couple of decent chances to open his account.
West Ham has not won in four games after their victory against Fulham last month and might be looking to exploit the Gunners’ inconsistency. Allardyce might be next in the line of League managers to be sacked this season and could face an uphill task against the creative might of Arsenal’s midfield.
It should be an easy night for the Gunners if they rediscover their form, and anything other than a win at Upton Park would provoke the critics to start writing off Arsenal’s title hopes.