Betting Odds: West Ham vs. Arsenal
- West Ham moneyline: +630
- Arsenal moneyline: -263
- Draw: +428
- Over/Under: 3.25 (Over -116/Under -106)
- Kick-off: Saturday, 10 a.m. ET
- Channel: NBCSN
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Arsenal and West Ham have zero points between them. So, when they kick off on Saturday, something’s got to give. Of course, two games into the season, not all points-less records are created equal.
Arsenal’s defeats at the hands of Manchester City and Chelsea are, while not ideal, at least understandable. West Ham, on the other hand, blew an early lead to lose 2-1 at home to Bournemouth after getting trounced by Liverpool. Not good.
Expect goals in this match, at least from Arsenal. There’s a reason the over/under is at 3.25 goals.
Before battening down the hatches in the second half against Chelsea, Arsenal went toe to toe with the eventual winners in an exhausting four-goal first half that ended 2-2.
Arsenal deployed an extremely attacking side with Mesut Ozil playing centrally in front of Granit Xhaka and 19-year-old Matteo Guendouzi. The bold choice by manager Unai Emery proved to be a double-edged sword leading to both 12 shots for themselves and nine for Chelsea.
It would be a mistake for Arsenal to abandon that gung-ho approach against a much weaker West Ham side. West Ham have a collection of talented attackers but have yet to establish a functional midfield behind them.
Mark Noble and Jack Wilshere have started each of the first two games together (and were accompanied by the youngster Declan Rice against Liverpool). They aren’t strong enough together defensively, and regardless Mark Noble is likely to miss the match due to injury anyway.
Likely either Pedro Obiang or Carlos Sanchez will start alongside Wilshere, and it’s at least possible that both will if manager Manuel Pellegrini looks to return to the three-midfielder lineup he used against Liverpool.
Arsenal should look to use their overwhelming passing ability to pick apart West Ham’s subpar midfield.
West Ham’s best hope for the match is to weather an Arsenal attack and hope that one of their talented mix of attacking wingers can force Arsenal into a defensive error and capitalize.
Arsenal’s defensive unit is thin at best. Neither Shkodran Mustafi nor Sokratis at center back are reliable, and while right back Hector Bellerin is a mobile force on the wing, he’s frequently caught upfield supporting the attack. On the left side Nacho Monreal is similarly aggressive while no longer possessing the pace to recover.
As long as Arsenal are attacking this unit is fine, but when the team gets caught in transition the fullbacks are often nowhere to be found and the shaky central defenders get very little cover from midfield.
All that said, if Arsenal take an early lead they’ll probably try to shut the game down. It’s what they attempted to do against Chelsea in the second half, although that didn’t go according to plan.
Chelsea were able to dominate after Arsenal brought on defensive midfielder Lucas Torreira for Xhaka. Emery’s team spent the entire second half under fire and unable to build any counterattacks to relieve pressure.
West Ham just won’t be good enough to pin Arsenal back that way. If the Gunners take the lead, they’ll be able to play a more conservative style and make it much harder for West Ham to force the kind of individual mistakes that have dogged Arsenal’s defense.
West Ham just haven’t yet shown an ability to put up any kind of fight this season. They have the attacking talent to do it, and if they get their midfield stabilized they might eventually settle comfortably into midtable. But, for now, expect Arsenal to comfortably get their first points of the season with a goal or two to spare.
The Bet: Arsenal -1.5 (-104)