Slaven Bilic hopes the return of Andy Carroll can revitalise West Ham’s attacking play by rediscovering the power that put Arsenal to the sword last season
Carroll has been sidelined for three months with a knee injury, in which time West Ham have found themselves battling at the bottom of the league table at least partly because of the failure of their strike force to find the back of the net. Diafra Sakho scored the first league goal by a West Ham striker last week against Manchester United
the Senegal international has since been ruled out for six weeks with a hamstring injury. Young forward Ashley Fletcher found the net in midweek but both of Bilic’s major summer striking imports, Simone Zaza and Jonathan Calleri, are yet to fire, in fact they are yet to smoulder even!
The pressure is on the shoulders of one injury plagued Andy Carroll
he enjoyed one of his best games for West Ham last season when he scored an eight-minute hat-trick in a 3-3 draw at home to today's opponents Arsenal, Carroll will need to be at his best bearing in mind Cresswell, Antonio and Sakho all sustained injuries during the EFL Cup defeat at Old Trafford on wednesday night!
“He is one of the reasons, along with Dimitri Payet, why we were so prolific last season in front of goal, why we were so versatile and, at end of the day, why we scored so many goals and finished so high in the table,” Bilic said.
“We had spells when he played a few games for 90 minutes,” he went on. “We also had spells when he made an impact from the bench and this was especially the case against Arsenal. It was basically him who brought us back in that game. The whole team had one of the best 45 minutes of last season then and that’s what he’s capable of.”
Punters and bookies alike are unsure as to how the game will pan out, but there are good odds to be found on this game. If you're uncertain, the smart choice is to opt for a free bet offer like William Hill's, where you bet a small amount and get a free bet to help you back multiple outcomes and give you a better chance of winning.. Authur Masuaku will come in at left back and the long lost Arbeloa is being rumoured to make a surprise cameo appearance at right back, although Fernandes can also slot in to that position, elsewhere Dimitri Payet may start on the bench due to a slight niggle picked up midweek however Slaven Billic could risk him from the start due to his team's perilous league position. Billic is also almost definitely going to retain Darren Randolph in goal ahead of Adrian, and Reid ahead of the ginger Pele.
The BBC feature an article where Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has revealed that he does not like to use Francis Coquelin at right-back as the Frenchman does not have the physiological profile to fit into that role. The Gunners are short in that position with injuries to Hector Bellerin and Mathieu Debuchy, with the latter injuring his hamstring against Bournemouth after less than 20 minutes on the pitch. Gabriel has since been put into that role and is likely to start against West Ham, with Carl Jenkinson having started against Southampton in their 2-0 loss in the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup in mid-week but was relentlessly criticised by Arsenal fans and has been a recipient of a huge amount of internet 'trollling' about his poor performance against the Saints. Coquelin is expected to start in midfield alongside Granit Xhaka or Aaron Ramsey, with Mohamed Elneny uncertain with a stomach bug he picked up earlier this week. Arsenal do have a Champions League fixture against Basle in midweek but as they have already qualified for the next stage Arsene Wenger is unlikely to rest any of his top players for this evening's match. - Ed