Hammers left stunned by Gunners fightback

Brian Jeeves

West Ham United 3-3 Arsenal 

Arsenal staged a remarkable fightback from three goals down to stun West Ham United and earn a share of the spoils from an otherwise pulsating capital derby at the London Stadium.

David Moyes and his side were criticised following their defeat at Manchester United seven days previous – the Hammers chief responded with an altogether braver starting line-up, including Said Benrahma, Jarrod Bowen, Michail Antonio and Jesse Lingard – the latter forced to sit out at Old Trafford due to the terms of his loan agreement.

Despite enduring an inconsistent campaign, Moyes was wary of the Gunners threat: “I think Arsenal are an improving side and they have shown that in their performances recently,” the Scotsman explained.

I think Mikel is building a good team there and I’m sure it’ll be a tough game. They’ll have taken confidence from winning a local derby, but this is our game and we’re interested in West Ham.

“We know Arsenal have got a lot of strengths in how they play and we’ll do our best to nullify them and do our best to put over what we’re good at as well.”

Vladimir Coufal fired over, while Tomas Soucek was a whisker away from a telling touch to Benrahma’s centre as the hosts made the early running. And just before the quarter of an hour mark, they made the breakthrough. 

Antonio powered his way down the left before teeing up Lingard – the 28-year-old celebrating his return to the England squad with a thumping, right-footed strike high into the top corner of the net. 

Arsenal was already at sixes and sevens – Swiftly it was two. A moment Gunners stopper, Bernd Leno won’t want reminding of. Bowen fired through him after a quick free-kick from chief tormentor, Lingard.

Incredibly, West Ham added a third just after the half-hour mark. Antonio’s firm header appeared to come off Soucek before eluding Leno – Coufal the provider – Arsenal, unsuccessfully claiming off-side.

Alexandre Lacazette provided Arsenal with a lifeline – lashing home from fifteen yards after Calum Chambers had centred – the ball deflecting off Soucek before beating Fabianski. Soon after, Bukayo Saka passed up a superb opportunity to reduce the deficit further – firing directly at Lukasz Fabianski after finding himself through on goal.

Sensing an avenue back, Arsenal swamped forward immediately after the restart. Issa Diop hooked off the line after Lacazette had lifted over the advancing Fabianski and then sent another attempt into the Polish keepers’ gloves as the North Londoners began to ask the majority of the questions.

Antonio blazed over as the home side finally found a way out – but with the destiny of the next goal imperative, Hammers’ hearts were soon to be very much in their mouths. 

Craig Dawson turned into his own goal after the Gunners worked a quick free-kick – the contest now on a knife-edge – Hammers angry with referee Jonathan Moss, believing Bowen was fouled – the whistler directing the other way.

Keystone Cop defending almost presented Benrahma with his first goal in West Ham colours, while Antonio could only direct against the foot of an upright after the former Brentford man had fashioned an opening from the left.

But with little under ten minutes remaining, Arsenal completed a remarkable recovery. Lacazette arrived unmarked to meet Nicholas Pépé’s centre – West Ham’s nerve shot to pieces – 3-3!

Declan Rice and Pepe passed up decent chances to win it. But it was a shell shocked West Ham that left the field at full-time.

West Ham United return to Premier League action on Monday, April 5 when they take on Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux (8:15pm).

West Ham United: Łukasz Fabiański, Vladimir Coufal, Issa Diop, Craig Dawson, Aaron Cresswell, Declan Rice (Capt), Tomas Souček, Jarrod Bowen (Mark Noble 74’), Jesse Lingard, Said Benrahma (Ryan Fredericks 79’), Antonio Subs not used: David Martin (GK), Nathan Trott (GK), Ben Johnson, Fabian Balbuena, Frederik Alves, Manuel Lanzini, Mipo Odubeko

Booked: Vladimir Coufal (foul), Jarrod Bowen (handball), Michail Antonio (foul), Aaron Cresswell (foul)

Goals: Jesse Lingard 15’, Jarrod Bowen 17’, Tomas Soucek 31’

Arsenal: Bernd Leno, Callum Chambers, David Luiz, Pablo Mari, Kieran ierney, Thomas Partey, Granit Xhaka (Emile Smith Rowe 74’), Bukayo Saka (Nicholas Pépé 74’), Martin Odegaard, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Capt) (Gabriel Martinelli 81’), Alexandre Lacazette Subs not used: Mat Ryan (GK), Gabriel Magalhães , Rob Holding, Cédric Soares, Mohamed Elneny, Dani Ceballos

Booked: None

Goals: Tomas Soucek (own-goal) 38’, Craig Dawson (own-goal) 61’, Alexandre Lacazette 82’

Referee: Jonathan Moss

Assistants: Marc Perry and Dan Robathan

Fourth Official: Graham Scott

VAR: Martin Atkinson

Assistant VAR: Scott Ledger

Brian Jeeves

Email: sport@yellowad.co.uk