Belfast Telegraph

Allardyce eyeing Gunners scalp

West Ham manager Sam Allardyce wants to add Arsenal to a list of conquests at Upton Park which includes Liverpool and Manchester City.

The Hammers were beaten 2-0 at Chelsea on Boxing Day, but have won six of their nine home games this season to help them challenge at the top end of the table in the Barclays Premier League.

"The last seven home games have been six wins and one draw," Allardyce said.

"I am relying on the home form that we have shown over the last seven games to be there in abundance on Sunday.

"We have turned it into a real fortress again and I hope that is going to be the case against Arsenal."

Allardyce has revived the Hammers from relegation contenders to European hopefuls after his position was scrutinised last season.

His job remains in some doubt as his current contract expires at the end of the season, but he is relaxed.

"It's not a problem with me and never has been," Allardyce added.

"For me that will all be decided if and when the owners decide if they are ready."

Allardyce hopes to guide West Ham into the Olympic Stadium for the 2016-17 season, in a move similar to when Arsene Wenger took Arsenal from Highbury to the Emirates Stadium.

"He's been manager, accountant and financial director, there is no doubt about that," said Allardyce, paying tribute to Wenger.

"The man set out a fantastic team before they decided to move and then built a couple of brilliant young teams based on the fact that the same amount of finance didn't appear to be available to him.

"The one thing we have got to our advantage is that we don't have to pay £450million for our new stadium, which is the best bit of business ever done in football by a set of owners.

"I don't think there is any bit of business that has ever been as good as what David Gold and David Sullivan have done acquiring the Olympic Stadium.

"So what you have to do in football terms is use your money that has been saved on that development into the team to strengthen it and when the club gets there, be in a position where hopefully it is not concerned with its Premier League status."

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger needs no reminding of just what an important player Alex Song can be.

The Gunners - who beat QPR 2-1 at the Emirates Stadium on Boxing Day, where striker Olivier Giroud was sent off for a headbutt on Nedum Onuoha - make the short trip across east London to Upton Park looking to maintain their push towards the Barclays Premier League's top four.

West Ham may have lost at Chelsea on Friday's lunchtime kick-off, but remain confident following a superb opening half of the campaign, which has seen both Liverpool and Manchester City beaten at the Boleyn Ground.

Irons' boss Sam Allardyce is in no doubt of the contribution made by Song, the loan signing from Barcelona offering a formidable defensive shield for the likes of Cheikhou Kouyate, Stewart Downing, Enner Valencia and Diafra Sakho to stretch the opposition.

Having helped mould Song from the raw talent playing in French Ligue 1 at Bastia, Wenger is not surprised to see the 27-year-old, who left Arsenal in 2012, producing solid displays in the Premier League once again.

"I brought him here at the age of 17 and kept him despite all the opinions against him. He developed into a very good player, so you don't need to convince me he is a good player," said Wenger of Song, who started on the bench at Chelsea.

"I think he was a very good player when he was here and he didn't play a lot when he was in Spain - you see players like Santi Cazorla who always looks stronger (when they play regularly)."

Arsenal can leapfrog West Ham with victory on Sunday, and are just two points behind fourth-placed Southampton, but ahead of Tottenham only on goal difference.

With so little between the sides around the Champions League places, Wenger just wants his players to concentrate on continuing their recent positive form, which has seen just one defeat from eight in all competitions.

"I don't give importance to the table at the moment," he said.

"There are 20 games to go. It is very tight and it is down to consistency now.

"We know every game now is down to consistency and reproducing the performances.

"We need to prepare quickly, focus quickly and that is an ability we want to show at West Ham."

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