Arsenal have what appears to be a tricky fixture on the horizon this weekend, with West Ham United set to host the Gunners at the London Stadium on Sunday.
The Hammers are currently fifth in the Premier League table with a seven-point advantage over Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal side, but they seem to suffer from their approach at times against ‘Big Six’ opposition.
West Ham are certainly well-drilled and they can be difficult to manage on the break, but David Moyes’ side seem to have a tendency to play in an defensive manner in specific games.
Last week’s clash with Manchester United acts as a perfect example, with the Hammers failing to muster a shot on goal in the first half of the contest at Old Trafford.
Moyes opted for a back five rather than the four-man defence that he used six days earlier against Leeds United, with players such as Mark Noble and Ben Johnson selected over Said Benrahma and Manuel Lanzini.
The Scot is responsible for getting the balance right between attack and defence, but West Ham failed to pose much of a threat until late in the match after the Red Devils had already broken the deadlock.
Gary Neville commented on Moyes’ approach after the game, stating on his podcast: “When you pick that team with five at the back and Noble in midfield, you’re telling your players that you don’t really believe you can go and take them on.
“I think you can take this United team on, but United’s centre-backs had 45 minutes to an hour off.”
The Hammers have lost eight times in the league this season, with all of those defeats coming against traditional ‘Big Six’ opponents, with the exception of the 2-0 loss to Newcastle United on the opening day of the campaign.
Moyes’ outfit average 11.7 shots per match this season, but they have failed to accumulate 10 efforts in 12 games, with seven of those matches coming against ‘Big Six’ sides.
It could be argued that those teams are simply better equipped to stop West Ham, but much of their failings seem to stem from their own approach.
From an Arsenal perspective, 11 games in all competitions have been played since the Gunners last kept a clean sheet, with that coming at the end of January in a 0-0 draw against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team.
Michail Antonio in particular can prove to be a handful at the business end of the field, and Jesse Lingard will be back after being unable to feature against his parent club last week but regardless, Arteta will not get many better opportunities to keep the ball away from his goal than this week.
A clean sheet is never guaranteed, but West Ham’s record against Arsenal and other sides recognised as being among the traditional top six sides, this could be a good opportunity for the Gunners to end the wait.