Monday night’s clash between West Ham United and Arsenal was billed as a must-win clash for both sides but ultimately it was the Gunners who bagged their first win in two months to rise back into the top half of the table.
Unai Emery paid the ultimate price for the club’s poor form, losing his job a fortnight ago, but the players were not innocent bystanders in the Gunners’ decline. So how did they react in this crucial London derby against West Ham? And is there a reason for Arsenal fans to be optimistic about the current squad going forward? We rate the players based on their Monday night performance.
The German did what is expected of a goalkeeper at this level. He dominated the area, distributed the ball accurately into the right areas and made important saves when called upon. There wasn’t a lot he could have done about West Ham s scrambled goal which was deflected past him in the 38th minute.
The Scotsman was only on the field for 29 minutes before being hauled off with a shoulder injury. He had been performing well up to that point and Arsenal fans should be excited about what he can contribute in the future. He still has a lot to learn but has shown enough to suggest he can be an important player over the next few years.
The centre-back put in a solid performance just when the Gunners needed it most. He seemed more focused, was composed on the ball and never shied away from a challenge. Playing out from the back effectively has been an issue for Arsenal this season but like Leno, Chambers is being more creative with his distribution, prompting quicker attacking moves.
Arsenal fans are still not convinced by the defender and this performance will have done little to change that. He defended well enough but was slow, indecisive and looked clumsy on the ball at times. Despite his vast experience, he seems to be suffering from a crisis of confidence that has mirrored the club’s own dip in form.
With Hector Bellerin ruled out with a pulled hamstring this was a chance for the youngster to put himself in the spotlight. However, it was not a great display from the 22-year-old who is clearly more suited to playing further forward. He often failed in his defensive duties and despite showing some bursts of energy was ineffective for most of the game. His night was summed up when the ball deflected off him for West Ham’s opener.
He took a while to get going in this match but really stepped up in the second half. The Uruguayan seemed determined to take responsibility for Arsenal’s predicament after going a goal down and was instrumental in the build-up for the equaliser. If he can perform like that over a full 90 minutes and get better support from his fellow midfielders, his energy and enthusiasm could be even more productive.
The exit door is looming large for the Swiss player who seems to represent everything you don’t want from an Arsenal midfielder. He is slow, sloppy in position and relies on his teammates to bail him out time and time again. This is a classic example of a player who looks like he needs a fresh start and Arsenal will be happy to oblige when the transfer window opens.
What has happened to Mesut Ozil? Once the king of the assist, he now looks like a passenger in this Arsenal team. He put in the minimum effort here but is obviously capable of so much more. Maybe it’s as simple as he just can’t be bothered.
The Brazilian had been largely anonymous but remained composed when a chance finally came his way and grabbed the crucial equaliser. It would be unfair to be too critical of the 18-year-old’s all-round game at this stage and as long as he keeps finding the net, the Arsenal fans will be happy.
He always chips in with vital goals but unlike Martinelli, Aubameyang has the experience to bring so much more to the team. Unfortunately, he often fails to do so. He got the third goal but spent much of the game isolated. However, he still remains one of the top options for those looking to place bets on the Premier League top scorer. A luxury player but one who Arsenal cannot afford not to be without right now.
It was always going to be a struggle to live up to the high expectations that accompanied his arrival but the Nicolas Pepe that the Gunners thought they had signed finally turned up on Wednesday. Being Arsenal’s best player on the night against West Ham was not a tough challenge but it gives the fans hope going into the tricky December period. He scored a great goal which seemed to spur his teammates on to kill the game off. Naturally, he also provided the assist for Aubameyang’s decisive goal.
Freddie Ljungberg might not be in the Arsenal hot seat for much longer but he managed to squeeze a respectable performance and a win out of a team that has been down in the dumps. That could be a big boost for the incoming manager – whoever it might be.