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Match preview


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West Ham boss Sam Allardyce could bring Andy Carroll back into the starting line-up after his return from injury as a substitute against QPR.

Winston Reid should be available despite being knocked out at Loftus Road, but Joey O'Brien is a doubt.

Arsenal could welcome back central defender Per Mertesacker after he recovered from a virus.

But first-choice keeper Wojciech Szczesny (ankle) and midfielder Abou Diaby (thigh) both remain unavailable.

MATCH PREVIEW

It's been a good week for West Ham. Victory at QPR left them seventh in the table and that's better than they would have anticipated at this stage of the season following promotion.

Andy Carroll's sooner-than-expected return from injury was another piece of good news for the Hammers and he did enough during a short cameo at Loftus Road to force his way back into the England squad.

Sam Allardyce could well be tempted to start Carroll against Arsenal who will offer his side their biggest test of the campaign so far.

LAWRO'S PREDICTION

Mark Lawrenson Football Analyst

"Big Sam will thrive on the culture clash between the two sides' playing styles and you can imagine him in the dressing room before the game telling his players that Arsenal are a good side but they want time to play, so get in their faces."



The Gunners have a great record against their east London rivals, but Carroll's inclusion would certainly give them something to think about.

Arsenal have looked a little susceptible to crosses into their box - something the Hammers will undoubtedly try to exploit, particularly if Carroll is included.

However, in general the Gunners have been pretty solid at the back, a point underlined by Kieran Gibbs's inclusion in the England squad and Roy Hodgson's assertion that Carl Jenkinson is an England full-back of the future.

And if the Gunners can deal with the threat into their area then they have plenty in attack to cause West Ham concern.

After a quiet start to his career in England last season, Gervinho now offers a real threat. Lukas Podolski is also showing the qualities that have made him such a fine player and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is building on his early promise. Along with Gibbs and Theo Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain is also in the England squad - a strong Gunners' contingent underlining the quality at Arsene Wenger's disposal.

In midfield Santi Cazorla looks a really high-class player and is Arsenal's biggest creative threat. I expect the Hammers will use Mark Noble to try to shut him out of the game.



It will undoubtedly be a fantastic atmosphere at Upton Park and there's every chance of this being a gripping London derby.

As in any derby no-one will shirk from a challenge, meaning referee Phil Dowd will need to keep his wits about him.


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