Merson believes Arsenal will fail to beat West Ham United, and here's why

Paul Merson believes Olivier Giroud's absence will cost Arsenal against West Ham.

Arsenal will be without Olivier Giroud against West Ham United courtesy of his red card against QPR on Boxing Day.

The three game ban could be at a desperately poor time for the Gunners, and former star Paul Merson believes the Frenchman will be a big miss against the Hammers.

The ex-midfielder told SkySports he believes Sunday's game will finish 1-1: "It’s a hard game for Arsenal, especially without Olivier Giroud.

"That’s another big player out of the team and he would have been vital at set-plays. I was tempted to side with West Ham in this one, but in the end I’ve edged towards the draw at Upton Park."

Giroud is strong in the air, but there's a key reason why he will not be missed as much as Merson suggests:

  TeamAerial Duels won per gameAppearances
Mathieu Debuchy Arsenal 5.57 7
Per Mertesacker Arsenal 2.94 17
Nacho Monreal Arsenal 2.38 13
Calum Chambers Arsenal 1.94 16
Danny Welbeck Arsenal 1.87 15
Olivier Giroud Arsenal 1.78 9
Laurent Koscielny Arsenal 1.75 8
Yaya Sanogo Arsenal 1.67 3

His absence in the centre will mean Danny Welbeck can be expected to play through the middle - and he wins more aerial duels per game than the Frenchman.

Even third choice Yaya Sanogo is barely behind Giroud in this field based on the three league games he has played, however whether they will have enough against the fourth-placed Hammers remains to be seen.

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