With Fabregas out injured for most of the season it is up to one the central midfielders to take up the Spaniard’s creative mantle. A youthful West Ham side will provide a tough test therefore the Gunners must be more incisive in their play.
Abou Diaby currently occupies the more advanced central midfield role and his assist for Robin Van Persie in the last minute shows the Frenchman has some creative ability at least. The image below (click on the image for better clarity) is of two different matches but shows Arsenal are missing the threat of Fabregas in the channel between midfield and attack. While Diaby made the assist Fabregas was willing to take more risks hence more unsuccessful passes (in red) as opposed to those successful in blue.
The context of the match is important as Everton were stronger and denied Arsenal possession keeping the ball is one of the hallmarks of Fabregas. Diaby has improved his composure and his presence is growing and has the makings of a fine player maybe in a more defensive role. Robin Van Persie has been key in creating chances as against Hull City and Wenger has admitted he wants the Dutchman to create chances as well as scoring. Adebayor on the other hand has been found wandering rather than going with the play.
Both teams are unlikely to make much changes to their midweek fixtures where West Ham will look to build off where they have left. Under Zola they are a much more organised side and more hard working. The midfield are full of running and creativity and will look to play around their front man for which Zola may play only one up front.
Carlton Cole is the man on form having scored six goals in seven games and praises manager Zola for his improvements in his all round game. “I have been playing the same all year, but now I am notching a few and that is all I was missing. I am playing with more awareness now. The manager has made more effort to help me realise what is going on around me on the pitch.”
Arsenal Likely Line Up (4-4-2)
Sagna – Gallas – Djourou – Clichy
Eboue – Diaby – Denilson – Nasri
Adebayor – Van Persie
Subs from: Fabianski, Gallas, Gibbs, Ramsey, Song, Vela, Bendtner, Wilshere
West Ham United Likely Line Up (4-4-2)
Neill (c) – Collins – Upson – Illunga
Behrami – Parker – Noble – Collison
Di Michele – C. Cole
Subs from: Lastuvka, Faubert, Tomkins, Boa Morte, Tristan, Nsereko, Sears
Form Guide: Arsenal (5th) W12 D6 L5= 42 points West Ham (8th): W9 D5 L9= 32 points
Prediction: Arsenal 1-0 West Ham United