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West Ham v Arsenal 26th Dec – Can Gunners Reclaim Top Spot at Upton Park?

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West Ham v Arsenal

Boxing Day 26th December. 3.00pm BT Sport 1

Arsenal failed to leapfrog Liverpool in the Premier League table when held to a 0-0 draw by Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium on Monday night, but the Gunners will reclaim top spot – even if only temporarily – if they beat West Ham at Upton Park on Boxing Day.

The visitors will be without the suspended Jack Wilshere, but otherwise there are no fresh concerns squad-wise for Arsene Wenger. Conversely, Sam Allardyce’s woe continues; the return of Kevin Nolan will be a welcome tonic for the Hammers, but there is no scheduled return date for striker Andy Carroll yet, while Ricardo Vaz Te and Winston Reid remain on the easy list.

Arsenal out to uphold Christmas tradition

While West Ham booked a place in the semi-finals of the Capital One Cup when staging a late rally to beat Spurs at White Hart Lane in their penultimate match, they are currently languishing just a point above the relegation zone in the English top-flight, and were comprehensively outpointed by Manchester United at the weekend.

Allardyce will be hoping that his charges can pull off another surprise victory against north London rivals on Thursday, but Arsenal have won five of their last six matches at Upton Park, and the Gunners have not been beaten in a Boxing Day fixture since 1999. The travelling fans will be hoping that Wenger’s men will uphold that Christmas tradition this year.

They are widely expected to uphold that tradition by bookmakers – indeed, Arsenal are a top-priced 8/13 to secure three points from their trip to east London, while the hosts are a top-priced 11/2 with bet365 and the draw is widely available at 3/1.

Theo Walcott has scored in his last 3 against the Hammers. Will he score first today? 6/1 Betfred

Theo Walcott has scored in the last three meetings between the two clubs, and is generally 6/1 and 7/4 in the first and anytime goalscorer markets respectively. The England international has looked sharp since returning from injury and will fancy his chances against the Hammers’ leaky defence.

While conceding goals is a problem for West Ham, scoring them is an even bigger problem. To put their plight in front of goal into context, the east London outfit’s chance conversion rate in the league stands at just 9 per cent, compared to Arsenal’s return of 20 per cent.

Overall, the Gunners are unbeaten in their last 10 clashes with the Hammers, winning eight of the matches in question. Unless their legs are weary from their game against Chelsea, this really should be a straightforward victory for Arsenal.

West Ham v Arsenal betting

When these two sides lock horns goals are usually on the menu. The last time they met Arsenal were rampant, winning 5-1 at the Emirates, while the north Londoners won this corresponding fixture last season 3-1. Ladbrokes go 7/5 about the Gunners prevailing and over 2.5 goals, which is a tempting option.

Both Bet Victor and William Hill go 2/1 about over 3.5 in the total goals betting, another angle which punters may wish to consider, while Arsenal -1 in the handicap betting at 13/8 with Betfred is also appealing.

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