the potential redemption of the london stadium

London Stadium, Arise: Previewing West Ham vs. Arsenal

In our second Premier League Preview of the week, we predict that this weekend could be the moment that the London Stadium finally comes into its own.

by Will Magee
Dec 2 2016, 4:27pm

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While there are West Ham fans that will inevitably disagree with us, filling our Facebook comments with a mixture of disproportionate vitriol, misplaced accusations of bias and flailing, fruitless, impotent rage, we think it's fair to say that their move to the London Stadium has been a mixed success to date. By 'mixed success', we of course mean a bit of a disaster, with complaints about atmosphere, poor results and widespread images of grown men aggressively jostling each other in front of terrified teenage stewards just a few of its reputational hiccups so far. In October, a stadium expert even went as far as to suggest that the whole thing should be knocked down and started from scratch, which seemed a rather drastic conclusion, even if it can perhaps be explained as a knee-jerk reaction to the Hammers' League Cup bust up with Chelsea. Almost 50 fans were banned from the ground in the aftermath of that match alone, which itself is testament to the fact that things haven't exactly gone to plan.

That said, West Ham's new home has a chance to redeem itself when it hosts another London derby this weekend. With Arsenal their next opponents, there is no better time for the London Stadium to flourish and come into its own. To clarify, we don't mean yet another day of punch ups, shoving matches and football fans acting like total bellends. We mean that it's time for the new ground to arise triumphant, and inspire the players to this season's first Premier League victory of note.

See, while Arsenal fans will expect their side to take three points back to North London on Saturday, the time is ripe for a major balls up from Arsene Wenger's men. They have flattered to deceive in their last few matches, despite the fact they are still unbeaten in the league since defeat to Liverpool on the opening day. Their 3-1 win over Bournemouth last weekend was tighter than the scoreline suggested, while their previous two draws against Spurs and Man United could have gone considerably worse. That said, they survived November without a major slip up in the league, even though it's a month in which Wenger's teams have traditionally been egregious. That leaves an ominous cloud hanging over the squad, in that they seem to be waiting for the delayed moment where they inevitably implode.

While it might seem a little arbitrary to presume that Arsenal will repeat the patterns of seasons past, they have shown no sign of doing anything else in the first third of their campaign. They are fourth in the league, look set to finish second in their Champions League group, and have gone out of the League Cup early having fielded a weakened team, all of which will seem naggingly familiar to anyone associated with the side. West Ham have a chance to cause an upset and, considering that they currently hover a single point above the relegation zone, need the three points with a desperation their opponents haven't experienced in a while. So the London Stadium must inspire a win using all its glossy corporate confidence, and prove itself a worthy home ground to the Hammers. Preferably without anyone getting chinned this time.

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