Smith: Gunners need to stay sharp to avoid Irons' edge
Alan Smith says Arsenal know they will need to be at their best to avoid dropping points at West Ham later today.
The Gunners head to the London Stadium off the back of a morale-boosting 3-1 home win over Liverpool but face another tricky test against the Hammers.
Mikel Arteta's side have already been knocked out of the Carabao Cup and suffered a home Premier League defeat at the hands of their London neighbours this season.
Speaking on behalf of NewBettingOffers.co.uk, ex-Gunners striker Smith told LiveScore: "If Arsenal play how they can, there are not many teams who are going to be able to compete with them.
"The good thing for Arsenal is defensively they've been so good this season, as good as any team. The number of shots they concede on their own goal has gone right down from last year.
"West Ham have danger men but defensively I don't see why Arsenal should be too worried about them if they defend how they can."
The 1993 FA Cup winner, 61, added: "In the Carabao Cup, Arsenal didn't play well at all and West Ham were flying, they were really energetic.
"They got into Arsenal and I'm sure David Moyes will be trying to do something similar to test the Gunners.
"It will be tough. They can be a really tough nut to crack."
Arsenal put themselves back in contention for the title this season with their victory over Jurgen Klopp's Reds.
This afternoon's game is one the visitors cannot afford to lose if they wish to keep pace with defending champions Manchester City, according to Smith.
He said: "You're thinking Manchester City aren't going to drop a point.
"The amount of times City have gone a goal down, they went a goal down to Brentford but you never thought they were going to lose it.
"Arsenal will feel, as will Liverpool, that they have got to win every game otherwise the gap will widen."
Friend to foe
Today's clash could see England team-mates Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips come up against each other in an intriguing midfield battle.
Rice, 25, has excelled since joining Arsenal in a £105million deal from West Ham last July while Phillips arrived at the Hammers on loan from Manchester City two weeks ago.
Phillips is regaining his match fitness after a tough period away from the City first team and Smith admits it may take a while for the Leeds academy graduate to recapture his previous form.
He said: "I do feel for him. He's a good player and it's a good signing.
"He's been out of first-team action for a long time, it does take time to reach that level again, that tempo that's required and also to get up to 100% match fitness.
"But there's no doubt about his quality. He needs to start games now, I'm pretty certain he will against Arsenal.
"Along with [Edson] Alvarez, that should offer some protection to the back four.
"Phillips' career can go again if he picks the right team in the summer, I'm sure he'll be allowed to leave.
"Declan has really enjoyed it at Arsenal and has moved on as a player, he's developed. There's still time for Phillips to develop as well and I think he can do that."