Predicted Arsenal XI to play West Ham United: Giroud in or out?

West Ham Upton Park

Match to be played on Thursday 26th December 2013 at 15:00. Venue: Boleyn Ground, London.

Arsenal fans were left disappointed with their blunt attack against Chelsea and now face a completely different challenge away at Sam Allardyce's West Ham United.

Arsenal have come unstuck against the better teams in the last month. A mauling at the hands of City at the Etihad, accompanied by 2 draws against Everton and Chelsea, means Arsenal haven't won in 3 matches. Despite that, they sit joint top with Liverpool only second due to goal difference so there are reasons to be positive.

West Ham fans have a little more to worry about, 6 points collected from a possible 30 in their past 10 games is alarming. Despite finishing a respectable 10th position last season, the Hammers are now deeply placed in this seasons relegation dogfight. Without an upturn in results for Big Sam and his men and they could be seeing the Football League yet again.

Here is how we predict the side will line-up:

Szczesny

Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Gibbs

Flamini, Ramsey

Walcott, Ozil, Cazorla

Giroud

Analysis:

Two changes to the side that faced off against Chelsea with Flamini in for Arteta and Rosicky losing out to Santi Cazorla.

Despite the frustrations of Arsenal fans aimed at Giroud, I don't believe that Podolski is quite match fit yet and would struggle to stand-in for the Frenchman from the off. Walcott couldn't be utilised properly in the forward role of that side, which leaves Bendtner as his only real replacement.

Mikel Arteta was one of Arsenal's better players against Chelsea, but I feel that Arsene will stick with his favoured Flamini and Ramsey partnership against West Ham. Flamini is much more defensively apt than Arteta and this will allow Ramsey more freedom to get forward and really hurt the Hammers with his attacking threat - something that was very much lacking vs Chelsea.

And finally, I believe Cazorla will be in line for a recall against West Ham. Despite missing out on the team sheet against Chelsea, the Spaniard has been in good form recently and will no-doubt be hammering the door down for a start. He has the creative ability to really damage West Ham, so I will be surprised if he isn't one of the first names on the list.

It's a big game for Arsenal and with frustration already high, the players will more than likely start to feel the heat. I believe if Arsenal play well, they will win - any problems the Gunners are having are tiny in comparison to West Ham, so they should be able to relax and take the game as it comes.

Form Guide

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