Arsenal and West Ham will meet at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday for a game that will pit two new managers against one another – with both of them searching for a first point.
Unai Emery’s Gunners have had a brutal start to their season against Manchester City and Chelsea, and have fallen to two successive defeats.
West Ham have also had a difficult start to the Manuel Pellegrini era, with a 4-0 loss to Liverpool on opening day followed by ending up on the wrong end of a 2-1 scoreline at home to Bournemouth.
Which team will break the mould and get off the mark on Saturday? Here are the battles that will decide the result:
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang vs Issa Diop
Should West Ham choose to give their £20 million central defender his Premier League debut, Arsenal would do well to instruct Aubameyang to target the youngster. Using his experience, pace, strength, and footballing intelligence, the Gabonese star could get off the mark against the Hammers.
Shkodran Mustafi vs Marko Arnautovic
Similarly, Mustafi is a defender low on confidence rather than experience. The last thing he needs right now is an enormous Austrian with an eye for goal bearing down on him. Opening his 2018-19 account from the penalty spot last weekend, Arnautovic will be on the lookout to add to his tally in North London.
Mesut Özil vs the overbearing desire within us, as humans, to be lazy
Unai Emery has very publicly criticised the effort of Mesut Özil, and has encouraged the midfielder to give more effort in his team’s defensive contributions. The way he responds to his manager’s comments may very well determine the German’s future at the Emirates.
Granit Xhaka vs Jack Wilshere
Wilshere will return to North London for the first time since his exit at the end of last season, and Xhaka is likely to be tasked with containing the creative midfielder.
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