3 talking points from Arsenal's 2-0 defeat to West Ham

  • Finishing continues to be a big problem for the Gunners
  • Some players are not good enough for the level Arsenal want to play at
  • Too many games this season have gone the same sort of way
Arsenal FC v West Ham United - Premier League
Arsenal FC v West Ham United - Premier League / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

Arsenal were handed a bitterly disappointing defeat at the Emirates by West Ham, leaving them two points adrift of Liverpool at the top of the table.

It was a dominant display as per usual but, for the second time in five games, the Gunners failed to score a single goal.

On top of that, a defensive mistake and a corner led to two goals conceded when West Ham really didn't pose a threat otherwise. Unfortunately, it feels like the same old Arsenal story and that is a worrying feeling indeed.

Let's go through some talking points about the game.

3 talking points from Arsenal's 2-0 loss to West Ham

1. Finishing is a big problem and it needs to be solved

This Arsenal team will always create chances. When you have Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Martin Odegaard in a team, there will always be chances to score. This season, by and large, Arsenal have just not been converting these chances.

This game should have been a 4-0 win. The players had 30 shots including 8 on target, 74% possession, ten corners and 2.79 xG. In every metric, Arsenal smashed West Ham except the important one. On a night with good finishing, Arsenal get the three points and are praised for a great performance. However, at the moment, there isn't a player who is consistently putting the ball in the net.

Halfway through the season, not one player in the squad has scored more than five Premier League goals. It is impossible to win a league without scoring lots of goals.

Realistically, Arsenal need a world-class striker that will convert the chances created. Just imagine this team with an Agüero, a Van Persie, or a Haaland: they would score insane amounts of goals.

If Jesus can magically improve his finishing, then he is of course the player to take us forward. He hasn't shown that though and it is likely that the right person is not yet an Arsenal player, as Mikel Arteta is hesitant to give Eddie Nketiah a run of games.

Arsenal are the better team in virtually every game they play, but their poor finishing undermines the collective massively. To go far, an improvement in finishing is needed.

2. Is the team too predictable?

Arteta has shown time and time again that he wants total control and domination over his opponent; to stifle them completely. Theoretically, this is brilliant, but in practice, it has made us more stilted going forward.

Every game, Arsenal face a low block and, for large periods, it feels like a training session. The ball goes down one wing and is then recycled before going down the other wing and getting recycled.

The team relies almost entirely on magic from one of the players or a few well-knit passes. Far too often, players linger on the ball when speed is crucial and it makes the Gunners predictable. Oleksandr Zinchenko and Odegaard are particular offenders for this.

It feels to me like Arteta needs to be able to change the system in-game to something considerably different, just to throw something out there that the opposition hasn't prepared for.

The players don't always perform with the right level of intensity and speed and the opponents can just sit deep and soak up pressure. The Arsenal play needs to be of the highest quality to break down the opponents whereas a team like Liverpool is much harder to defend against.

Of course, it's a point that seems to ring true when we lose and seems to be nonsense when we're winning, but it's something to bear in mind.

3. The squad desperately needs to be improved

There's no two ways about it, the squad is far from a finished product. The full starting XI is of sufficient quality, but there is a distinct lack of squad depth with the current injuries.

Zinchenko is a liability in almost every game. He always loses the ball in his half and it costs us time and time again.

Leandro Trossard should never be starting in the #8 role for us, he's just not that style of player. He shouldn't really start in the left-wing role either because he is too slow. He should only really play in the false nine position.

If Ben White gets injured or suspended, a 33-year-old Cedric Soares will have to start. Of course, this is due to injuries but it's also due to insufficient squad building.

Two seasons ago, Arsenal were signing players for a top-four race like Zinchenko and Jesus and the project is now moving beyond them. As good as Jesus is, he doesn't score enough goals.

Linked to the previous two points, we need to sign a #9 who occupies the box and defenders. Someone who will always be looking to get on the end of crosses and is a nightmare for the centre-backs all game long.

I think this West Hame game is a bit of a reality check, at least for me. As good as this Arsenal team is right now, it isn't quite good enough to win the league or the Champions League and that's the simple truth. Signings need to be made.