Arsenal have looked as good as any team in preseason – winning the Barclays Asia Trophy, the Emirates Cup and the Community Shield, with that let's-also-think-about-the-defence performance against Chelsea. None of that matters one bit, of course, other than giving the players a sense of positivity, and the real deal begins with the English Premier League match against West Ham at the Emirates. Win that -- convincingly Arsene Wenger will hope, much like they have done most of the preseason matches -- and it could be the beginning of a beautiful season.
Gauging how Arsenal will perform in the early part of the season if they win or lose their opening match is a little difficult, as Arsene Wenger's men went on a tear early in the 2013-14 campaign after losing the opener to Aston Villa, while they stumbled a fair bit in the last season, following an opening victory at Crystal Palace.
Injuries will be the key for Arsenal this season. If Wenger can keep his core fit and ready, much like Chelsea did when they romped to the title, then the Gunners will be one of the contenders.
"I couldn't ask for a better preparation," Wenger said about Arsenal's bright preseason. "Preparation breeds confidence so we can go into the season in a good shape.
"Now it's about points, about performance, about efficiency, about togetherness and about heart. We have to earn the right to win the games through effort. Those are the qualities that will be tested now."
West Ham are expected to test those qualities, after their preseason pretty much involved playing in the qualifying stages of the Europa League. The new manager Slaven Bilic took a risk by playing a young team in the second leg against Romanian side Astra Giurgiu, and the risk did not come off as they were knocked out.
However, the positive aspect of that is that it means the first team players are fresh and ready to make an impression against their London rivals.
"Sometimes, the big teams don't start the season well," Bilic said, hoping for a big scalp to start the season. "I watched Arsenal play Palace in their first Premier League game last season, because their next game was against my Besiktas team in a Champions League playoff, and they won 2-1 with a last-minute goal.
"I remember the game well, and Palace deserved a point. You have to play against Arsenal some time, and you know it will be a tough game, but like most things in life, it's a matter of how you approach it.
"Some people try to look at these games as a bonus, where they have nothing to lose, and maybe we are not the favourites. But it is a great opportunity for us to show we are good enough, and it wouldn't be the first time."
Where to Watch Live
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Arsenal vs West Ham is set to begin at 1.30 pm BST (6 pm BST, 8.30 am ET), with Star Sports 4 providing the live coverage in India. The match can also be watched via live streaming online on Hotstar and Starsports.
Viewers in the US can catch the action live on NBC Sports, with the live stream option available on NBC Sports Live Extra. The EPL action can be watched live in Canada on TSN, while Arsenal vs West Ham United can also be live streamed on TSN Go.