Sam Allardyce eyes Arsenal opportunity
Sam Allardyce hopes West Ham United are able to take advantage of an Arsenal side weakened by injuries and fatigue on Tuesday, but he warned his players they will have to be at their very best.
Arsenal can return to the Champions League qualification spots for at least 24 hours if they beat the Hammers at the Emirates Stadium because Everton, who currently occupy fourth place, do not play until Wednesday.
However, Arsene Wenger’s side are struggling with injuries and go into the game on the back of Saturday’s FA Cup semifinal victory over Wigan, which went to extra time and penalties, and Allardyce feels that may provide an opportunity for his side.
“We all suffer with spells of injuries and when players can't recover in time, and we all know that weakens our team,” he said. “We had a similar spell in December and it makes your life very difficult as a manager.
“Certainly with Arsenal's game-load and some of those injuries, yes, they will be weaker than they possibly could be -- but they've kept a Champions League place for all these years with a squad of 25 players and nearly all are internationals, and they are playing at the Emirates, so whatever difficulties they have it's still a hugely tough fixture for us.
“Whatever team Arsenal put out we will have to play at our very best if we are to get a result, particularly on their own patch. If we can seek an advantage by those problems they have then that gives us a better chance but it won't be any easier than it's ever been at the Emirates.
“The fatigue may happen but it may happen later in the game, not at the beginning, so we will have to be on song and totally focused on what we have to do.”
West Ham had appeared to be in serious trouble in December as they embarked on a run of seven games without a win, but after claiming six wins from their last 10 games they have moved up to 11th.
Even so, they are only seven points clear of Fulham in the final relegation place and Allardyce is refusing to believe they are safe yet.
“The results some of the teams below us pulled off, some surprisingly, means we are not mathematically safe,” he said. “If they then get back-to-back wins, you have to look down and say we're not quite there.
“We've got five very tough games to go. We've got to try to pick up as many points as we can.”
Information from the Press Association was used in this report.