Martin Keown outlines what Arsene Wenger will be thinking ahead of West Ham clash

Arsene Wenger

The ex-Gunners defender knows his former side face a tough task against a Hammers side with "plenty to play for".

Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown has told the Daily Mail that Arsene Wenger will be fully aware that West Ham United are breathing down their necks when he takes his side to Upton Park on Saturday.

Slaven Bilic's Hammers are just seven points behind the Gunners with seven matches of the season remaining as both sides look to secure a place in the top four.

Although both clubs are chasing the same aim in that regard, the pattern of their respective seasons has been very different in recent weeks.

A run of just two wins in nine matches between 13 January and 5 March saw Arsenal's title challenge crumble, although they have since recorded convincing back-to-back wins to keep themselves in with a slim chance of glory.

In comparison, West Ham have lost just two of their last 18 matches since 22 November to put themselves in with a serious chance of qualifying for the Champions League for the first time in their history.

Keown insisted that Wenger's side face an almighty struggle to keep their winning streak alive against an Irons side desperate to return to winning ways after dropping points in their last two matches.

He told the Daily Mail in his weekly 'Tackle Keown' Q&A: "West Ham v Arsenal is a huge game on Saturday lunch-time.

"Wenger knows what it's like to be leading the title race and will want to put as much pressure on Leicester as possible by making a statement against any team they face.

"With just three points between them and the Champions League places, West Ham certainly have plenty to play for. And it might cross Wenger's mind that the Hammers aren't all that far behind them in the table."

The former centre-back, who made 451 appearances for Arsenal, also highlighted how important it will be for the visitors to avoid giving away free-kicks in dangerous areas.

Hammers star Dimitri Payet has developed a reputation amongst many as one of the best set-piece experts in world football after fine strikes against Manchester United and Crystal Palace, as well as a stunning effort for France.

Keown added: "Beating West Ham will be difficult - they won't be too keen to give away any free-kicks around the edge of the area, given Dimitri Payet's form with the dead ball."

The clash at Upton Park kicks off at 12:45pm on Saturday.

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