All eyes will be on wantaway star Marko Arnautovic when West Ham United take on Arsenal this afternoon, following this week’s news that the Hammers’ talisman is pushing for a big-money move to China.
The 29-year-old – the Irons’ top scorer with eight goals this term – has admitted that he would like to leave the London Stadium this month, less than two years after arriving from Stoke City in a £25 million deal.
It will be interesting to see whether West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini will keep faith with the Austria international up front, though the Chilean’s hand may be forced by a number of injuries in the attacking department.
Summer signing Andriy Yarmolenko and Manuel Lanzini remain long-term absentees, whilst Javier Hernandez has only recently returned to first-team training, BBC Sport report.
Pellegrini is expected to hand Samir Nasri his first Premier League appearance since August 2016 – against his former employers, nonetheless – after making his West Ham debut during last weekend’s FA Cup win over Birmingham City.
The former Manchester City boss, however, will definitely be without imposing Hammers centre-back Fabian Balbuena, who has been ruled out of action for up to two months with a knee injury.
Meanwhile, fifth-placed Arsenal will be looking to maintain their push for a top-four spot and welcome back five first-team players to full fitness.
Laurent Koscielny and Hector Bellerin have recovered from their respective injuries and could expect to start Saturday’s clash against West Ham, whilst fellow defenders Shkodran Mustafi and Nacho Monreal are also available for selection.
Gunners boss Unai Emery can also call upon the services of the enigmatic Mesut Ozil, although it will be interesting to see whether the German is trusted with a starting berth.
West Ham go into the encounter with just two wins from their past five league matches and have a torrid record against the North London side, emerging victorious just once from their last 21 clashes.