Sam Allardyce prepares West Ham for 'big test' against Arsenal

 

Sam Allardyce has braced West Ham for the biggest test of their Barclays Premier League season when Arsenal arrive at Upton Park tomorrow.

The Hammers have made a strong start on their return to the top flight and sit seventh in the league, with three wins and two draws from their first six matches.

Allardyce's men are one place above north London rivals Arsenal - but he knows their honeymoon period is over.

West Ham face all of last season's top six clubs within the next two months, starting with the Gunners, in a period that could define their campaign.

"We have 11 points from six games so we are delighted that our start has been as fruitful as it has been," Allardyce said.

"They (Arsenal) are a top four side. This is a big test for the players and whether they can master the quality of opposition.

"Can they understand what they need to do or change their game slightly to get best chance of a result?

"Arsenal are so good at keeping the ball. We will need to concentrate that they don't get behind us. That is a key area.

"We need to accept that we won't see the ball as much as other home games, Villa, Fulham and particularly Sunderland."

Allardyce will decide today whether or not to start with England striker Andy Carroll, who has returned from a hamstring injury but remains short of match fitness.

Carroll dominated the Arsenal defence two years ago, when he was at the peak of his form for Newcastle before his ill-fated move to Liverpool.

"We will have our game plan and hopefully that will get us a result but that means every player playing at their best," Allardyce said.

"Even then, it may not be good enough to beat the Arsenal. If we reach the performance against Sunderland and Fulham we will give them a really good game."

Chelsea exploited a lack of "authority" at the back, as Arsene Wenger put it, last week but Arsenal could have the more dominant Per Mertesacker back from illness.

Allardyce believes Arsenal's defence has been strengthened since the recruitment of former Gunners centre back Steve Bould to the coaching staff.

"It certainly looks a lot harder or more difficult to break down," Allardyce said.

"What we need to think about is how many opportunities will we get to break it down.

"People have said over the years that Arsenal have been weak at the back but the problem you face is getting to their defence, they're so good at keeping the ball that chances are few and far between."

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee