Gunners Set To Open Fire

Image courtesy of Paris - AP
Lukas Podolski missed the match against Chelsea. Image courtesy of Claude Paris/AP
Arsenal  will be looking for its first League win of 2013 when it welcomes West Ham  to the Emirates Stadium on Thursday morning (AEST). Sunday’s 2-1 defeat away to Chelsea left Arsene Wenger’s side seven points adrift of fourth placed Tottenham and extended their winless run in the top flight to three matches, but they will be confident of turning things around against the 12th placed Hammers.

German striker Lukas Podolski is expected to return for the Gunners after missing the trip across town to Stamford Bridge with illness on the weekend. While Arsenal has scored in ten of its past eleven matches, plenty of opportunities in front of goal have still gone begging and his return will be a big boost. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was another player to miss out on the weekend and could return to bolster his sides attacking threat, but midfield maestro Mikel Arteta remains sidelined with a calf strain picked up in the draw  with Swansea on January 6.

West Ham will be without Marouane Chamakh at the Emirates, with the Moroccan unable to play against his parent club under the terms of his loan agreement. Andy Carroll is making progress as he recovers from a hamstring injury but may not recover in time to face the Gunners, leaving Carlton Cole to lead the line. Joe Cole scored his first West Ham goal in more than a decade in the Hammers 1-1  draw with QPR on the weekend and could be in line for his second start since re-joining his boyhood club at the start of the January transfer window.

While Arsenal will be bidding for its first League win since thrashing Newcastle United 7-3 on December 29, West Ham will be out to record just its second win from its past ten fixtures. When the clubs clashed at Upton Park in September, Arsenal were 3-1  victors after coming from a goal down.

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