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Michael Taylor 19th Mar 2010 - 15:01

West Ham could be en route to a real hammering

Arsenal were poor in last week's scrappy 2-1 win over Hull but I think that result, more than any other, finally got me into the belief that the Gunners are genuine title contenders.

It's an old football adage that champions manage to get results when they don't play well and I don't think you have to look much further than this to see why Arsenal haven't held silverware for four long years.

However, when Nicklas Bendtner sidefooted a last gasp winner past Boaz Myhill to send the travelling support into raptures people finally had to admit that Arsene Wenger's kids may just be hitting maturity.

The game itself wouldn't have pleased Wenger with his side taking the lead early before a loss of concentration from Sol Campbell nearly allowed 10-man Hull to claim an invaluable point, but their never say die attitude certainly would.

Arsenal got the points, kept within touching distance of the leaders and, with Cesc Fabregas returning to the fold this week, confidence at the Emirates has never been higher.

It's not ideal for Gianfranco Zola and West Ham though who continue to flirt with the dreaded drop zone and have now lost three in a row including batterings by both Manchester United and Chelsea.

They've conceded nine goals in those three games, scored just two, rarely threatened to get themselves into any of them and now they couldn't possibly ask for a tougher task than improving at a seemingly impenetrable Emirates Stadium.

It comes as little wonder the home side are short 1/5 favourites and I don't think I'm alone in thinking it's not a case of will they win but rather how many will it be by.

A lot of it could depend on which boots Nicklas Bendtner decides to wear.

The big Dane has the canny knack of finding space and time in the box, he also has the less fortunate trait of being rather wayward with a good number of his attempts though.

After his horror show against Burnley he was slaughtered in the press but much like Aaron Ramsey's horrific injury and Lukasz Fabianski's nightmare in Portugal it has been water of a duck's back.

Bendtner fired in the winner at Hull, adding to a magnificent hat-trick against Porto at the Emirates and I fancy he can keep his good run going against the Hammers' fragile defence.

He's 3/1 to score the first of the game, 8/11 anytime and the one I particularly like is the 7/2 about him finding the net more than once.

The chances are likely to come thick and fast as well if Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Andrei Arshavin continue in their imperious and industrious best form in the middle of the park.

Sadly for the wobbling Hammers I'm not sure their defence is up to keeping Arsenal at bay so it'll be up to the likes of Scott Parker, Carlton Cole and Alessandro Diamanti to create opportunities at the other end of the pitch.

With Sol Campbell at the back the Gunners look particularly vulnerable to through balls so Cole may have some joy playing off Campbell's shoulder, if West Ham can find the space to make the killer pass.

I won't be banking on Zola's men getting round the back however I certainly will be avoiding a massively short looking 6/10 about a home team clean sheet.

The only thing I believe to be a banker is goals and so I'm making my bet of the day the 13/10 about over 3.5 total match goals, of which you have to feel most of which will be flying past Robert Green.



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