West Ham vs Arsenal
Sunday, December 28. Kick-off: 1500
Arsenal were able to narrowly overcome Queens Park Rangers at the Emirates Stadium on Boxing Day but will face far tougher tests in their following two festive fixtures.
West Ham are the opponents on Sunday at Upton Park, a ground on which Liverpool and Manchester City have lost this season, while fourth-placed Southampton await Arsenal on January 1.
One player definitely out of both of these matches is Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud, who was sent off against QPR after a clash with Nedum Onouha. Arsene Wenger believed it was a deserved red for his player and, with Arsenal not providing any opposition, Giroud will begin his three-game suspension at the weekend.
His absence opens a space at the summit of Arsenal's attack and, while Yaya Sanogo is back from injury, it may well be that Danny Welbeck is moved back inside against West Ham rather than the young Frenchman being thrown back into the mix.
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Should this happen, then Wenger will need to bring in a replacement in a wide attacking area, and Lukas Podolski could get the nod over Theo Walcott given his superior ability in the air against a side strong from set-pieces.
Tomas Rosicky played and scored against QPR but, given his history of injury, we believe it to be unlikely the Czech will play twice in three days, so Francis Coquelin is in line to replace him.
Meanwhile, Laurent Koscielny should return from injury which will allow Wenger the luxury of picking his first-choice back four.
Wojciech Szczesny; Mathieu Debuchy, Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny, Kieran Gibbs; Mathieu Flamini, Francis Coquelin; Alexis Sanchez, Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski; Danny Welbeck.