Premier League
Arsenal 2 West Ham United 1

Saturday, 19th September 2020
by Chris Wilkerson

West Ham lost 2-1 at Arsenal this evening after being quite notably the better of the two sides.

It was a painful defeat, Arsenal scoring the winner with only five minutes remaining. In a game where they had barely threatened, Arsenal again stole three points from West Ham when they barely deserved one.

With Noble ruled out due to a toe injury suffered in training, Rice took the captain?EUR(TM)s armband and Masuaku was the only change to the team that started the season, Moyes reverting to a back five for the trip to The Emirates.

But rather than forcing West Ham into a defensive shell, Masuaku in particular was able to use his pace to inject energy into the side, adding to the counter attacking threat and the ability to turn players at speed.

It added another facet to their threat, rather than relying on set pieces and crosses. But it was here that the first chance of the game presented itself.

A corner to the far post was headed centrally to Ogbonna, who stooped low and headed at goal, but right at Leno.

The side were working hard across the pitch, notably further forward as Fornals, Antonio and Bowen refused to let the Arsenal defence settle.

All this helped the away side grow confidently into the game and play effective and attractive passing football.

Which is why it was galling to see them fall behind.

Aubameyang, kept quiet until then, was slipped down the left side of the box and accelerated away from the defence.

With the backline scrambling to get into position, Lacazette ran unchecked into the area and the ball was chipped perfectly onto his head. The Frenchman headed in emphatically from close range.

It could have led to despondency, but Arsenal didn?EUR(TM)t have the fluency to push on and West Ham were not cowed.

There was some issues with the attacking play, Antonio drifting out the left too often.

Instead, West Ham could feel a touch aggrieved not to have been given a penalty, Gabriel missing a header and clearing the ball with his arm. It looked suspect, and the weekend has shown similar incidents punished.

But they weren?EUR(TM)t done, West Ham. It may seem like they often let a 1-0 deficit drift away from them, but that confidence from early in the game was not lost.

And as half-time was moments away, they equalised. Fornals controlled a clearance and rolled it inside to Soucek. The Czech midfielder got it forward to Bowen whose run towards goal was matched by Fredericks.

The ball was slid to him down the right of the area and the full back rolled it across the face of goal where Antonio this time was centrally and ahead of his man to poke the ball into the net.

The second half started with little change in the rhythm of play, Arsenal looking rather blunt and West Ham nothing like the side so easily brushed aside by Newcastle last week.

The shape worked for West Ham, Masuaku and Fredericks comfortable getting forward to provide the width, allowing Bowen and Fornals to play more narrow and support the midfield and striker better.

Half chances were abundant for the Hammers, Arsenal quite the opposite. The more pessimistic of West Ham fans will have been well prepared for what happened as the game came close to its end.

But the positives of that performance should be reflected on. Antonio failed to connect properly from a beautiful Masuaku cross early in the second half, Soucek missed a clear header colliding with a defender later on.

Bowen had snapshots, Haller half an opening late on; they will know they could and maybe should have won the match.

Most painful was Antonio?EUR(TM)s header, smashing the crossbar as he and Soucek bullied the Arsenal backline. Even the scramble afterwards could have rewarded Moyes?EUR(TM)s team, but the openings seemed to fade and die like our fortunes always do.

The eventual sucker punch came with the time all but gone. As Moyes threw on Yarmolenko to try get that deserved winner, one moment of concentration lost at the back was punished.

It was the Ukrainian who lost his man, Ceballos running off him and into the box from a lovely pass that saw him tap it square for Eddie Nketiah to poke in the winner and snatch three points.

All in all, they deserved better and should take heart from that. In a tough run of games, performances will matter. At this stage, it is about more than points.

But they remain on zero, and they will likely need something from these next fixtures just for some positivity to be allowed around the club. You know, us suffering many really do deserve the odd smile.

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Match Facts

West Ham United: , , , , , , , , , , .

Goals: None.

Booked: None.

Sent off: None.

Arsenal: .

Subs not used: .

Goals: .

Booked: .

Sent off: None.

Referee: .

Attendance: 0.

Man of the Match: .