Arsenal will look to close the gap on the Champions League places when they face West Ham on Wednesday night in a match that had originally been scheduled to take place on Boxing Day, only for a tube strike in London to see it postponed.
Following their 2-1 defeat at Chelsea on Sunday, the Gunners currently lie sixth, seven points behind fourth-placed Tottenham, albeit with a game in hand and with only 18 games left to play for, Arsene Wenger will know that a first league victory in 2013 is crucial if they are to keep pace with their local rivals.
The Gunners’ attack could be boosted by the returns of Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who missed the trip to Stamford Bridge due to illness. Mikel Arteta is also fighting to make a return after missing the last two matches with a calf injury. The Spaniard’s return would help ease the pressure on Abou Diaby, who has played in three consecutive matches since his recovery from a thigh problem. Tomas Rosicky and Francis Coquelin miss out.
For the visitors, Sam Allardyce is likely to pick a similar starting line-up to the one that claimed a 1-1 draw at home to QPR at the weekend though Carlton Cole should return in place of the on-loan from Arsenal Marouane Chamakh, who is ineligible to play against his former club. Andy Carroll is still absent.
Elsewhere, Mohamed Diame could line up in midfield against the side rumoured to be interested in signing him while central-defender James Collins is again expected to be be absent with a hamstring problem.
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