Hammers’ midfield star boost

Cheikhou Kouyate is available to West Ham for Saturday’s visit of Arsenal, but the game comes too soon for Sam Byram and James Collins.

West Ham: Hammers' midfield star boostWest Ham: Hammers' midfield star boost

The Hammers successfully had Kouyate’s red card from last Saturday’s 2-2 draw against Crystal Palace at the Boleyn Ground for a challenge on Eagles’ substitute Dwight Gayle rescinded by the FA.

It means the Senegal international will be able to line up against Arsene Wenger’s Gunners in the Saturday lunchtime kick-off, while he will be looking to emulate his goal in the reverse fixture at the Emirates Stadium on the opening day of the season last August when the Hammers won 2-0.

Boss Slaven Bilic said: “He scored a goal at Arsenal with a great header and we are delighted to have him back, but he should not have been sent off in the first place.

“I was worried, because there was a possibility he was going to miss the next three games which would have been a major blow.”

Only defensive duo Byrom and Collins will sit out the game with respective muscular and calf injury issues, but Bilic confirmed they have both been training and are not far off a return.

The Hammers go into the game just three points behind fourth-placed Manchester City and are very much in the race for Champions League qualification.

However, Bilic played down suggestions that his side will be favourites against their London rivals, who are still chasing the title, given that they are looking for a double against them.

He said: “There is a lot at stake and we also need the three points if we want to stay in the race for the top five or six, so it should be a good game.

“The talk about favourites is a good subject for the press, but they are Arsenal and they are quite used to being in this sort of situation, they are always up there and we aren’t.

“There is no point in talking about favourites, but we are a good team and we are playing well.”

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