Paul Merson has predicted Marko Arnautovic, Andy Carroll and Felipe Anderson will run amok for West Ham against Arsenal in Saturday lunchtime’s showdown.
The high-profile pundit claimed the Hammers attacking trio should get plenty of joy in what should be an exciting game but backed the north Londoners to hold the hosts to a 2-2 draw because of their own firepower.
“Arsenal struggle to stop goals going in and West Ham’s best form of defence is attack,” Merson told Sky Sports. “I don’t know how Arsenal will cope with the likes of Carroll, Arnautovic and Anderson, but the Gunners are good going forward so it makes for an entertaining game.”
Certainly, a very compelling case can be made for Arnautovic and Anderson destroying an Arsenal back line that is seemingly permanently an accident waiting to happen. None of the centre-back options available to Unai Emery are especially convincing or reliable, particularly following much-improved Rob Holding’s cruel ACL injury. Liverpool destroyed the Gunners a few weeks back, and West Ham have the weaponry to also create and score goals. Certainly, Arnautovic and Anderson will be rubbing their hands together with excitement, although, in the case of the wantaway Austrian, that could be to do with the eye-bogglingly lucrative package on offer from China. Much will depend upon his mentality and how professional he is willing to be. The outcome of the match may depend upon it. As for Carroll, Merson is overstating his influence. The giant centre-back has made an impact as a substitute since returning to fitness but he only comes alive at dead-ball situations. The rest of time he is about as threatening as a toddler.