Arsenal 1-0 West Ham United
ARSENAL substitute, Alexandre Lacazette – hugely assisted by VAR – arrived to break West Ham hearts after the east Londoners had looked likely to leave the Emirates Stadium with a precious share of the Premier League spoils.
A victory over Southampton seven days previous had lifted spirits, and indeed, the Hammers out of the dropzone. Boss, David Moyes, spoke buoyantly, although realistically ahead of their trip across the capital.
“Every game in the Premier League is difficult, Arsenal will cause us problems they way they do with most teams over the years but I think recently, the way we have played has given us the belief that we can play well,” the Scotsman explained.
“We cause opposition problems, at the moment we are in a good period where we think we can score so we can take all of those positives into the game and get something from it.”
Indeed, it was the east Londoners who were out of the traps the quickest – Jarrod Bowen thumping the foot of the post with a speculative strike from twenty-yards. Meanwhile, Michail Antonio passed up a glorious opportunity faced with the prospect of testing Bernd Leno or picking out Sebastien Haller, the wide man – caught in the proverbial ‘two minds’ – did neither, the chance gone.
Aaron Cresswell blocked from Mesut Ozil as Arsenal – looking a little disjointed – responding after a timid start, while Leno saved at the feet of Haller as the visitors continued to look the brighter.
Sokratis nodded against the top of the bar as the hosts began to find their feet – Fornals warming Leno’s palms as the sides continued to exchange half-chances.
Antonio somehow missed the target from no more than a yard out after Issa Diop had headed Mark Noble’s flag-kick goalwards as the stalemate continued ahead of the interval.
Arsenal’s improvement under Michel Arteta has been notable, and clearly the Gunners chief had sent his side back out with a flea in their ear.
Lukasz Fabianski saved from Eddie Nketiah after the impressive Bukayo Saka had fashioned an opening. But West Ham’s threat was still evident – Leno waving a big glove to swipe away Antonio’s header which seemed destined to break the deadlock.
Arteta introduced Lacazette as the Gunners frustrations grew. Meanwhile, Leno was far from convincing when dealing with Bowen’s low strike and Declan Rice drilled over – the home crowd becoming evermore agitated as a result.
The game had become stretched but remained scruffy – But VAR was about to make an appearance. Lacazette swept home – Referee, Martin Atkinson ruled off-side – Angelo Ogbonna’s studs adjudged to have played him on – one-nil to the Arsenal!
The goal was harsh on West Ham, who had been the better side for much of the contest. Goal difference prevented them from slipping back into the bottom three, but Moyes’s men have left themselves with an awful lot to do if they are to clamber to safety.
West Ham United return to Premier League action on Sunday, March 14 when Wolverhampton Wanderers are the visitors to the London Stadium (2pm).
Arsenal: Bernd Leno, Sokratis, Dani Ceballos, Mesut Ozil (Hector Bellerin 89’), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Capt), Nicolas Pepe (Reiss Nelson 69’), Pablo Mari, David Luiz, Eddie Nketiah (Alexandre Lacazette 60’), Granit Xhaka, Bukayo Saka Subs not used: Emi Martinez (GK), Joe Willock, Matteo Guendouzi, Gabriel Martinelli
Booked: Sokratis (foul)
Goals: Alexandre Lacazette 78’
West Ham United: Lukasz Fabianski, Aaron Cresswell Mark Noble (Capt) (Tomas Soucek 81’), Jarrod Bowen (Robert Snodgrass 90’), Pablo Fornals (Felipe Anderson 87’), Angelo Ogbonna, Sebastien Haller, Issa Diop, Michail Antonio, Declan Rice, Jeremy Ngakia Subs not used: Fabian Balbuena, Pablo Zabaleta, Manuel Lanzini, Darren Randolph (GK)
Booked: Pablo Fornals (foul), Michail Antonio (foul)
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Assistants: Lee Betts and Sian Massey-Ellis
Fourth official: John Brooks
Reaction to follow…