An upset could be on the cards at Upton Park



ARSENAL’S strong road record will be firmly put to the test when the Gunners head to Upton Park this weekend. On their travels they are unbeaten in the top flight this term and have lost just once – at Loftus Road – since mid-January.

But Arsene Wenger has repeatedly failed to find a formula capable of beating Sam Allardyce’s teams on their own patch.

From the nine occasions that Wenger opposed Allardyce at Bolton, Newcastle and Blackburn in the Premier League, he managed just two wins, while ‘Big Sam’ came out on top four times. Add in to the mix that West Ham are currently one place and two points above their guests in the table and Saturday’s early evening game is set up rather nicely.

Arsenal will hardly be exhausted by their midweek outing against Olympiakos but the Hammers have been able to put their feet up since their 2-1 win at QPR on Monday. Allardyce will hope that gives New Zealand international Winston Reid enough time to recover from the concussion he sustained during the game, with the defender a mainstay of the side which has taken 11 points from six games so far.

One man who should definitely be available for selection is Andy Carroll, who made his comeback with a 20-minute cameo against QPR. Carroll scored the only goal in a 1-0 Newcastle win at the Emirates in November 2010 in a very disciplined Toon performance under then boss Chris Hughton and it would be no surprise to see Allardyce follow that blueprint, despite being the home side.

Hammers fans have got used to a more pragmatic approach to the game than has been traditionally required at Upton Park and it seems to be working with only two home league defeats in the past 12 months.

I am tempted by the 3/1 on offer for West Ham to take all three points, although it may be a better option to have the hosts at 13/8 with Coral in the draw no bet market. Although their form has been acceptable for the early stages of the season, Wenger doesn’t quite seem to know his best team yet and recent showings have not been that of champions-in-waiting.

Whatever happens, I’m anticipating a tight, low scoring game and the 15/2 with Coral for the HT draw / FT West Ham double result interests, as does a sell of total goals at 2.7 with Sporting Index.

■ Pointers…
West Ham draw no bet at 13/8 with Coral
HT draw / FT West Ham at 15/2 with Coral
Sell total goals at 2.7 with Sporting Index