Kieran Tierney missed the Arsenal vs West Ham game due to muscle tightness and he was replaced by Sead Kolasinac. Dani Ceballos replaced the rejuvenated Mohamed Elneny and despite the ‘clean sheet’ claim, there was no room for Ozil or Guendouzi.
Against Fulham, we saw a slick passing game from Arsenal that overwhelmed the opposition but up until the 25th minute in the Arsenal vs West Ham contest, the Hammers looked the better side. The Gunners suffered from what I’d term as ‘scuff foot’, with weak and stray passes all over the pitch and it was so bad at one stage that Dani Ceballos passed to David Moyes. Moyes gratefully picked up the ball from the technical area and Ceballos glared at the player he felt should have given chase.
It was a reminder that football still could mock itself even with big-name players on astronomical wages. Arsenal’s version of ‘Scuff ball’ became contagious but for the goal, when Saka found Aubameyang who floated the ball back to Lacazette, who met it decisively with his head (25). Alexandre Lacazette, who has probably been one of the most influential players for Arsenal over the last few years, again proved his worth against West Ham, amid reports according to efirbet that Arsenal are preparing a fresh contract extension for their prized striker.
A 1-0 scoreline was pretty much against the run of play but that’s what Arsenal can do if you don’t pay attention. Willian, who was excellent against the Cottagers looked out of salts, but he wasn’t alone as ball after ball missed its intended target.
In the middle, Ceballos looked as if he lacked a bit of early polish and at the back, the lack of finesse from Rob Holding is starting to become glaringly obvious. I would not be surprised if Holding is loaned out, now that David Luiz is back in contention but even if he is, I doubt it will be enough to sharpen up his skill set to the required level.
West Ham pressed forward all evening and the main threat came from Antonio. When Arsenal eventually laboured over the halfway line, they were greeted by a line of five blue shirts with another line of three behind them. As space disappeared, Arsenal passed sideways and backward to find a way through, but this game needed a ballplayer that could fly a pass thirty or forty yards over the Hammers’ heads to rattle some nerves.
Just moments before half-time, Antonio got a well-deserved equaliser via a flat Arsenal backline with everyone leaving the marking to everybody else. There were no changes at half-time and although Arteta filled the players’ ears with motivational swear words, nothing had changed much on the pitch either.
If anything, the majority of the Arsenal vs West Ham game showed why Arteta is looking for more additions to his midfield. The creativity spluttered and at times it felt like painting by numbers with a pot of dry paint and a hairless brush. The fluency the Gunners displayed against Fulham had deserted them.
Ideas seemed to be at a premium as West Ham managed to snuff out any meaningful moves from their hosts and started to look a good bet for an unexpected win. 59 minutes in and this felt like the longest game I’d ever seen with West Ham looking more convincing and with Arsenal’s resistance starting to diminish.
Arsenal needed something urgently and we had to hope for a ten-minute collapse to ease the pressure but the ‘scuff foot’ continued and it became a challenge to generate a ripple of excitement. 63 minutes in and Pepe replaced Willian which was an unremarkable change, with Arteta hoping his £75m striker could show a little more ambition than what was already on offer.
Instead, West Ham clattered the Arsenal crossbar with an Antonio header and when Leno came, he spilled the ball which led to a brief spell of incontinence in the Arsenal ranks. Then Arsenal caused themselves more problems by staying deep in their half limiting their attacking options and if they were going to lose this game, it would be attributed to the shameful passing.
Arsenal looked less and less likely to score from the 70th minute and only Pepe looked like he fancied finishing this game off, but his corner (72) should, perhaps, encourage others to relieve him of that particular duty. At this point in the Arsenal vs West Ham game, Moyes’ team had 8 shots on goal to Arsenal’s 1 but football is rarely fair. In one last roll of the dice, Lacazette gave way to Nketiah but this illustrates the lack of quality within the squad when they have to rely on someone as inexperienced even though, he appears to come good.
There were several decent contests in the Arsenal vs West Ham match with the visitors winning most of them. Antonio had the upper hand on Holding all night long. Ceballos couldn’t really get anything going against a willing and dominant midfield and Aubameyang came up against a defence that hardly gave him a sniff apart from his assist.
The reality is that Arsenal have more to do but we all knew that. The Premier League is full of teams that want to flip the form books and it was no surprise that West Ham did so well, however, it was surprising that Arsenal didn’t possess enough to have an easier evening. Leno was probably the busiest Arsenal player and that tells you all you need to know about the Arsenal vs West Ham game.
Then West Ham suffered the ultimate insult (85) when Saka fed Ceballos with a neat little through ball into the left side of the West Ham box, the Spaniard seemed to have time to spare as he delivered a tidy ball to Nketiah who popped it home. The final time scoreline read 2-1.
Arsenal will need to be sharper and more inventive if they want to improve on last season’s finish but in the past, Arsenal would have lost this quite easily. Say what you like about the quality but at least, the side can dig deep and pinch points.