Arsenal Vs West Ham: Highlights and analysis from telling draw

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 13: Arsene Wenger, Manager of Arsenal looks on prior to the Premier League match between West Ham United and Arsenal at London Stadium on December 13, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 13: Arsene Wenger, Manager of Arsenal looks on prior to the Premier League match between West Ham United and Arsenal at London Stadium on December 13, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images) /

Arsenal travelled to London Stadium to face an embattled West Ham United side. Here is the full recap, all the highlights and analysis from the 0-0 draw.

Arsene Wenger made the change that had been hinted at all season. The back three was gone; the back four was, well, back. It did not, though, have the desired effect. Loose and listless in possession, Arsenal were unable to create any chances of real significance. And out of it, there were moments where West Ham United’s pace on the counter did threaten. This was not a good performance. At all. And the result mirrored it.

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The good news, after ten minutes, was that Arsenal hadn’t conceded a goal, despite Granit Xhaka’s best efforts to gift West Ham possession high up the pitch with a vulnerable defence exposed. The bad news was almost everything else. Although there were no real chances for West Ham, there was a lack of control of the game in the midfield areas, which is something that Wenger would have wanted given the formational shift, and a failure to create much in the final third, with the passing too slow and lethargic to pull West Ham out of their disciplined shape.

In fact, the first moment of goalmouth drama came for the Hammers. Breaking at Arsenal with real pace, which is exactly what David Moyes intended given the make-up of his front three, Marco Arnautovic peeled off of Xhaka and Nacho Monreal, who looked worryingly lost, both attracted to the ball and consequently being caught under the cross, to head past Petr Cech. Fortunately for the Gunners, the offside flag was up; no goal.

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In the best chance of the half for Arsenal, Alex Iwobi did hit the post with an angled shot after some clever play for Alexis Sanchez to slip a pass into the channel for the Nigerian. But, other than a few neat touches from Jack Wilshere and Mesut Ozil on the edge of the area, there was very little created. At the break, Arsenal had engineered just one shot on target and forced Adrian into just one save. It was a tepid, blunt display, and, in all honesty, the most likely to scoring was West Ham. Marco Arnautovic looked lively, skirting around Ainsley Maitland-Niles before ducking back inside Nacho Monreal with a powerful, driving run, and Granit Xhaka could have conceded a penalty as he clumsily bundled over Manuel Lanzini in an attempt to shuttle the ball out of play. It would have been a harsh decision, but it was not the most assured of defending, that is for certain.

This was a far from fluent display from the Gunners. West Ham were comfortable defensively and dangerous offensively. Alexandre Lacazette was sorely missed, Olivier Giroud wasn’t being utilised effectively, and, up until this point, the substantial changes that Wenger had made were far from beneficial.

After the half, Arsenal immediately began to turn the screw. Although Marco Arnautovic did fire over within seconds of the restart, it was the Gunners that began to open up opportunities. Alexis Sanchez grew into the game down the left side, setting up Hector Bellerin for a long strike, nearly releasing Olivier Giroud with a neat reverse pass, and then playing a very similar pass into the path of Mesut Ozil, who couldn’t find Giroud with the low cross.

But while the tempo was raised, the quality was still absent. Alex Iwobi and Olivier Giroud were especially guilty, with loose passes and layoffs, something that the latter is in the team to do. There were moments where his movement was extremely limited also. This was a game that only fortified my thinking that movement, namely Alexandre Lacazette is critical to the potency of this attack.

At the other end, there were a couple of moments of nervousness. Nacho Monreal forgot he was a centre-half, utterly abandoning his position at times, while Petr Cech had a lapse moment, which resulted in Nacho Monreal clearing off the line, but was bailed out thanks to a soft foul by Marco Arnautovic with a push on Laurent Koscielny.

The best chance for Arsenal to break the deadlock came thanks to Jack Wilshere. He was the Gunners’ best player up until that point, not that that was saying much, but this was a glaring miss. Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ floated cross to the back post was cleverly cushioned by Olivier Giroud, who was benefitting from finally being used correctly, and Wilshere, who took a touch to set himself, sliced over the bar in what looked like a panicked effort.

Alexis Sanchez did force Adrian into a good, but fairly comfortable, save from a curled freekick. But Wenger’s substitutions had little impact, and little time to make an impact, even if they wanted to. Alexandre Lacazette, for example, did not come on until the 82nd minute, and Danny Welbeck did little to improve on a wasteful Alex Iwobi when he was introduced.

And then, to end the game, Arsenal went into utter meltdown. Laurent Koscielny passed the ball across his goal, gifting West Ham possession. Nacho Monreal didn’t deal with it. Neither did Granit Xhaka. Neither did Hector Bellerin. Mark Noble slipped Javier Hernandez in, and the Mexican struck the underside of the bar. Arsenal were very, very lucky indeed.

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That was the last moment of real action. It was a draw, but it was a telling one. The back four is not necessarily better. There are genuine issues away from home. Creativity is seemingly lacking in possession. Alexandre Lacazette is far more dangerous than Giroud.


No goals, no highlights. Apologies everyone…