Arsenal-West Ham United Preview
By TOM BENNETT
STATS European Football Writer
(AP) -- West Ham United will be eyeing another London derby win as they host Arsenal at Upton Park on Boxing Day.
The Hammers (3-5-9) have already beaten Tottenham Hotspur twice - in league play and in cup play - to boost an otherwise disappointing campaign. A 3-0 win over fellow Londoners Fulham is West Ham's lone win in the last 10 in the league, and manager Sam Allardyce is more than aware his team will need luck on their side if they are to pick up another derby victory on the busiest afternoon of the Premier League season.
"When you play the top boys you have to play to your very best on the day and hope that you take advantage of the opportunities you get or you get a bit of luck," said Big Sam. "If that goes your way then you can beat anybody in this league on the day, but you need certain factors to be in your favour. I have to control the factors I can control and make sure the players play to their best.
"We'll give it our best shot and make sure we protect ourselves against Arsenal's abilities like we saw Chelsea do the other night and then try and exploit some of the weaknesses that aren't as apparent as they used to be. There's a lot of work now which has gone on quietly about how well they defend and that's why they're near the top of the league."
Arsenal (11-3-3) had their 13-week stay at the top of the league end with a goalless draw against Chelsea on Monday evening. The Gunners are without a win in their last three league games, having only dropped points in three of their opening 14 matches, but manager Arsene Wenger is confident his team have the desire to get back to winning ways.
"We're going through a patch where it's a bit more difficult, but part of a successful season is how you deal with that," said Wenger. "The spirit of the players is unbelievably focused. There's a great desire.
But let's be serious: if after the first game against Aston Villa I'd told you we'd be top of the league at Christmas, you'd have told me I was absolutely mad. We are where we are. The last three games have been a bit more difficult, but we have played Everton, Man City and Chelsea."
West Ham are without the injured Stewart Downing (calf), Mladen Petric (calf), Winston Reid (ankle), Ricardo vaz Te (shoulder) and Andy Carroll (ankle), while Arsenal are missing Yanicj Sanogo (back), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee) and Abou Diaby (knee).
Arsenal did the league double over West Ham last season, outscoring their intracity rivals 8-2 over the two games.
The Hammers haven't won in 11 meetings with Arsenal stretching back to a 1-0 win in 2007.
Updated December 24, 2013