In one of his first interviews as West Ham manager, Slaven Bilic pointed out his Irons side can upset Arsenal on the opening weekend owing to their involvement in Europa League qualifying.
The Hammers have been playing competitive football since early July and the boss’ belief is this will give them an edge that may prove enough to negate the obvious gulf in quality between themselves and the Gunners.
It’s unlikely their intensive pre-season schedule will enable them to overcome odds of 9/1 to win the match, but they could be worth a punt on the double-chance stakes.
Paying out at 12/5, the money will be all yours should the east Londoners avoid defeat at the Emirates and, despite a woeful record against this opposition, a reasonable case can be made for a flutter here.
As mentioned, with six competitive games under their belt, West Ham will certainly be sharper and, despite the inferiority of two of their opponents, Lusitanos and Birkirkara, their workouts were strenuous.
The former were faced with ten men in the second leg, while the Maltese outfit recorded a 1-0 victory in one half of their tie before eventually succumbing in a penalty shootout.
Arsenal were put through their paces in last weekend’s Community Shield against Chelsea, but it’s important to note the Blues were as equally out of condition before kick off.
The Gunners are likely to be without star man Alexis Sanchez too, with the Chilean only returning to training this week.
Furthermore, Arsene Wenger’s troops have a history of sluggishness on recent opening weekends.
Last season, an injury time winner was required to see of the ten men of Crystal Palace, who had taken the lead.
The year before that Aston Villa prevailed 3-1 at the Emirates, while Sunderland got a goalless draw at the same venue 12 months before that and it doesn’t stop there.
Newcastle recorded the same result on the curtain-raising weekend of 2011/12 and the spoils were shared on their trip to Liverpool a year earlier.
West Ham may have failed to 15 on the spin against Arsenal, but they were the first ever opponent to prevail at their north London stronghold and there are omens that suggest they can get a positive result here.