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PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 September, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 September, 2007, 12:00am

Arsenal have performed well in London derbies this season, with wins over Tottenham and Fulham, and they can complete a hat-trick at West Ham tonight.

This column pointed out Arsenal's vulnerability on the road against uncompromising teams before their 1-1 at Blackburn near the start of the season - their only dropped points so far - and one of the teams that fell into that category last season were West Ham. Arsenal lost 1-0 at Upton Park last season when the Hammers were managed by Alan Pardew, and Arsene Wenger was so ruffled that he squared up to Pardew on the sidelines after the Hammers had scored their late winning goal.

Getting Arsenal to lose their cool has been the key to beating them on the road in the last two seasons - the Gunners have lost five out of 10 in each of those seasons against the 10 worst-behaved sides, and have suffered an even more stark eight defeats out of 12 against the six teams that featured in the bad-boy list in both of the last two seasons.

West Ham's disciplinary record worsened considerably last season, possibly as a result of their desperate battle against relegation. They ranked 18th in the fair-play table last season, having been third in 2005-06, but they have reverted to type this season and have the second-best disciplinary record in the Premier League.

Alan Curbishley, who took over at West Ham from Pardew just before Christmas last year, must be a key influence in that improved disciplinary record. Curbishley likes his teams to concentrate on playing good football, and in his last three seasons at the Valley, Charlton ranked top twice and second in the fair-play table.

It is not Curbishley's way to try to knock teams out of their stride with an over-physical approach, and that must increase Arsenal's chance of success at Upton Park tonight. Under Curbishley, Charlton were usually easy meat for Arsenal at the Valley, with the Gunners winning on six out of eight visits and losing only once.

For the difference that a fairer approach makes to Arsenal's chances on the road, just consider their results on the road last season against the nine teams (apart from Arsenal themselves) who made up the top 10 in the fair-play table - five wins, two draws and two defeats.

That gave them an average of 1.89 points per game on the road against the fairest sides, compared with just 0.9 against the 10 worst-behaved teams.

Two other big European teams can answer doubts about their away form with wins on the road this weekend. Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich have won only five out of 20 away to the top six teams in the last four seasons, but their record is very good at Bayer Leverkusen, where they have won three out of four.

Real Madrid visit local rivals Getafe, which has been the second-toughest away trip for Real in the last three seasons, with only one point out of nine. Getafe are showing signs of decline, however, and Real look reasonable value.

Shortlist: Atletico Madrid, Arsenal, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Ipswich, Wolves. Best bets: Arsenal (AW), Bayern Munich (AW), Real Madrid (AW).Arsene Wenger gets worked up

 

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