Arsenal Preview

THE LAST time Sol Campbell came face to face with West Ham for Arsenal, he was apparently forced off at half time with something approaching a nervous breakdown! On that fateful night, the Hammers became the last team to win at Highbury and Campbell s biz

THE LAST time Sol Campbell came face to face with West Ham for Arsenal, he was apparently forced off at half time with something approaching a nervous breakdown!

On that fateful night, the Hammers became the last team to win at Highbury and Campbell's bizarre part in their 3-2 defeat was the stuff of legend.

A year later and West Ham became the first team to win at the Emirates when Bobby Zamora again put them to the sword, helped by a virtuoso performance by Robert Green.

How Gianfranco Zola will be praying for something similar in north London on Saturday evening. Come to think of it, the Italian may well be praying for a repeat of last season's match when the two teams contrived to bore everyone to death with a 0-0 draw.


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After the excitement of Chelsea, that really would be a welcome relief for the manager and his beleaguered team.

Don't expect too much however. Arsenal have won 12 of their 15 home games this term, with only Chelsea and Manchester United blunting the Gunners' firepower with victories.

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Arsenal have won their last five league games, as well as thrashing Porto in the last 16 of the Champions League and with Cesc Fabregas set to return on Saturday after injury, everything seems to point towards a home win.

Fabregas has missed a fair chunk of the season, but he has still managed 14 league goals and 13 assists, and will definitely be the one to watch.

Arsenal have shared their goals around this term. Andrey Arshavin has nine, Thomas Vermaelen - their only big signing in the summer - has managed seven from centre half, while Abou Diaby has chipped in with six.

Striker Nicklas Bendtner is the man in form though. So disappointing for much of the season, he has six goals in his last five games, though to watch him play, you wonder quite how.

The Gunners were far from convincing in their last-gasp 2-1 win over 10-man Hull City on Saturday, but that was after the rigours of a Champions League game, something that will not hinder their preparation this week.

Arsenal have played 45 games already this season though, compared to West Ham's 32, while in the two encounters at Upton Park this term, the Hammers gave them plenty to think about, with Alessandro Diamanti scoring in both matches.

Scott Parker was sent off in the league game back in October, so will have a point to prove and if he plays like he did against Chelsea, he may well manage it.

It will be a tough ask for the Hammers on Saturday. Their best chance may well be another breakdown for Campbell.

Don't hold your breath.

POSSIBLE TEAM: Almunia, Eboue, Vermaelen, Campbell, Clichy, Diaby, Fabregas, Song, Nasri, Arshavin, Bendtner.

Prediction:

Arsenal 3 West Ham 1

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