Arsenal vs West Ham | Wednesday 15th December 2021, 20:00 | BT Sport
Arsenal once again proved that they are a different beast when playing at the Emirates as after back to back defeats on the road they returned to winning ways with a 3-0 victory against Southampton, making light of the absence of skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang because of his disciplinary breach.
Goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale once again impressed, helping the Gunners weather an early storm from the Saints with several fine saves, providing the foundations for Mikel Arteta’s side to take a foothold in the game and benefit from the surge of confidence given to them when taking a 21st minute lead with an incisive counter, before going on to win very comfortably, the 23-year-old shot stopper securing an eighth clean sheet in 12 EPL matches.
No side in England’s top flight has won more home league points than Arsenal’s 19 and are now unbeaten in their last seven at the Emirates, winning six, they also have a phenomenal record against West Ham there too.
The Hammers have left empty handed in 11 of their last 12 visits to this particular part of North London, with a win on the opening day of the 2015/16 season all they have to show for their efforts since then scoring just three times in losing each one of the subsequent six visits.
In their most recent game David Moyes’ side had to settle for a Sunday stalemate at Turf Moor where Nick Pope stood up to all they could throw at him – with the Scot left bemoaning a penalty decision going against his side which he felt would have been given for one of the other top four outfits, his side being the only member of the top five not to receive a spot kick last weekend.
The draw with Burnley means it’s one win in their last five league games for West Ham, none in their last three away and of more concern over the last six games only Wolves (0.51) and Burnley (0.75) have a lower non penalty xG than their 0.83.
An accusation is gathering momentum which portrays the visitors as being able to readily summon their best form for clashes with the elite – highlighted by already tasting success over Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United and Spurs this season.
However, against the lesser lights it is a different story, with the goalless draw against Sean Dyche’s men adding more dropped points to those already lost against Cystal Palace, Southampton, Brentford, Wolves and Brighton.
The jury is still out on which camp this Arsenal side falls in, given the aforementioned stats it potentially comes down to whether the game is home or away – ultimately I guess it is fair to say they sit somewhere between the two.
However, for a side in such hot home form and added to Moyes’ overall career record against them, losing a massive 23 of his 36 attempts (W4, D9), I have to side with Arsenal at a nice price, surprisingly better than evens with Coral offering 6/5.
For those looking for a little extra risk in that bet my suggestion would be to split your unit between the selection above and for the scores to be tied at half time with the home side going on to win at full time – this has landed in each of the last five EPL head to heads here – that outcome is 9/2 with Bet 365.
One of the players to really shine in recent weeks has been Martin Odegaard who is in his best form since his time at Real Sociedad two seasons ago.
It is likely due to finally getting consistent game time, closing in on 1000 minutes of league action already featuring more than he did last term when on loan from Real Madrid, whilst his headed goal against the Saints last weekend meant he has now scored in three straight games and matched his best tally for a season.
Alongside Emile Smith-Rowe, Odegaard has had a much more productive EPL campaign so far where he only found the net once, with his England international colleague only scoring one more in a combined 34 top flight appearances.
The duo have contributed nine league goals between them (43% of Arsenal’s total) with the Norwegian clearly benefitting not only from that improved stability but also a slightly more advanced role with Arteta stating after the Southampton game “He’s making it into the box much more and now he understands why we encourage him to do that” describing the 22-year-old as a “match winner”.
There has been enough similarity to Odegaard’s goals, bursting in the box to apply the finish to cut backs, that it is clearly something he has been working hard at on the training ground and as a result, being difficult to pick up is something we could see even more regularly over the remainder of the season.
Goals in four successive games would be some achievement but at odds of 9/1 I’m prepared to back the inform midfielder to do just that by opening the scoring – backed each way gives us the luxury of profit should he find the net at any time in the match. Also remember to tick the box to void the bet should Odegaard not be selected to start.