Tough to take for West Ham as gritty Gunners grind it out

Arsenal 2-1 West Ham United

West Ham United will wonder how this one slipped away from them after they created several opportunities but was ultimately undone by an Arsenal side more than capable of grinding out a result if the need arises.

It was difficult to take any positives from the Hammers opening day defeat at the hands of Newcastle at the London Stadium. However, having mastered conquering ‘the chips are down’ situations during his two stints in East London, David Moyes focused on what had gone on before in a bid to relieve some of the pressure on his charges ahead of a tough run of fixtures.

“We played well against some of those teams last year, especially at the end of the season,” the Scotsman explained

“We showed good things at Anfield, at Old Trafford and at home against Chelsea, so we’ll hope to show that again.

“If we show that commitment and energy we can get results, but we do know it’s a tough run coming up.”

But the Hammers chief was mindful of what he faced: “Mikel has changed the mindset of the players at Arsenal, he knows that to be a good team you have to be good on the ball, but do the other side of it too.

“We’ve seen that in the last few weeks, but we know they are a new team too so we’ll look to take advantage of that, put on a good performance and get something from the game.”

Despite the host’s early possessive pressure, it was West Ham who offered the initial threat in what proved to be a frustrating opening period. Angelo Ogbonna nodded tamely at Bernd Leno after Declan Rice had provided the Italian defender with a clear sight of goal, while Rice’s attempt was deflected behind and Michail Antonio’s smothered by Leno as Arsenal struggled for momentum.

But midway through the half, Arsenal briefly sprung into life. Alexandre Lacazette met Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang clip across goal with the meat of his forehead – VAR unable to support the Hammers plea for a flag against the Gunners skipper in the initial build-up.

Normal service resumed, or so we thought, West Ham resiliently steadied the ship, regrouped and on the stroke of half-time, struck back. Antonio provided the close-range finish after a sweeping move involving Jarrod Bowen, Tomas Soucek and Ryan Fredericks – it was no more than the East Londoners deserved

Antonio should have doubled his and West Ham’s money after the restart – the 30-year-old unable to divert past Leno from close range after Arthur Masuaku had superbly picked him out.

The visitors certainly appeared the slicker side, keeping possession and pressing the home side uncomfortable on the back foot. Bowen passed up another decent opportunity, scuffing against Gabriel Magalhães, who cleared behind. Then Antonio’s head slapped the face of the bar as West Ham continued to dominate.

Both Bowen and Soucek had further attempts blocked – the Hammers wastefulness was to prove costly. Substitute Eddie Nketiah restored the Gunners lead four minutes from time after Dani Ceballos had put it on a plate.

Aubameyang fired into Fabianski’s midriff as Arsenal – having been let off the hook – looked to twist the knife. The Improved performance will offer little comfort to Moyes whos team remain pointless

West Ham United now turn their attention to the Carabao Cup, facing Hull City at the London Stadium on Tuesday, September 22 (7:45pm). They return to Premier League action on Sunday 27 when they host Wolverhampton Wanderers (7pm).

Arsenal travels to Leicester City in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday 23 (7:45pm) before taking on Liverpool at Anfield in the Premier League on Monday 28 (8:15pm).

Arsenal: Bernd Leno, Hector Bellerin, Sead Kolasinac, Gabriel Magalhães, Bukayo Saka, Dani Ceballos, Alexandre Lacazette (Eddie Nketiah 77’), Wilian (Nicolas Pepe 64’), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Capt), Rob Holding, Granit Xhaka (David Luiz 89’) Subs not used: Matt Macey (GK), Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Mohamed Elneny

Booked: None
Goals: Alexandre Lacazette 25’, Eddie Nketiah 86’

West Ham United: Lukasz Fabianski, Aaron Cresswell Pablo Fornals (Sebastien Haller 89’), Jarrod Bowen (Andriy Yarmolenko 82’), Angelo Ogbonna, Issa Diop, Ryan Fredericks, Arthur Masuaku (Felipe Anderson 90’), Tomas Soucek, Michail Antonio, Declan Rice (Capt) Subs not used: Darren Randolph (GK), Fabian Balbuena, Manuel Lanzini, Ben Johnson

Booked: Ryan Fredericks (foul)
Goals: Michail Antonio 45+1’

Referee: Michael Oliver
Assistants: Stuart Bur and Simon Bennett
Fourth Official: Darren England
VAR: Chris Kavanagh
Assistant VAR: Neil Davies

Brian Jeeves