West Ham spoiled another side’s top four hopes, holding Arsenal to a goalless draw at the London Stadium. The Gunners now sit seventh, whilst the Hammers will look to escape the relegation zone at the weekend. Here are five takeaways from last night’s match.
West Ham were forced to defend deep for much of the game. It is a testament to the organisation of the side that they were successful, with Arsenal rarely threatening. Outside of an Alex Iwobi shot that hit the post, David Moyes’ side looked comfortable without the ball, demonstrating a solidity that they had sorely lacked under Slaven Bilic in recent months.
The fact that West Ham have now gone two games without conceding, against Arsenal and Chelsea no less, will encourage fans. Indeed, had Hernandez hit the target late on, instead of the bar, West Ham would be celebrating an even more successful week.
Last weekend was not simply an anomaly, but evidence of a renewed spirit to retain Premier League status. If West Ham play similarly against the teams around them in runback fixtures, then they should secure safety.
Despite enjoying 70 per cent possession, Arsenal failed to break down West Ham’s defence, managing just three shots on target. Olivier Giroud started over Alexandre Lacazette, but did not capitalise on his first league start with a goal.
Lacazette’s movement off the ball was missed in a game that demonstrated a lack of creativity on Arsenal’s part. Communication and vision might well be the focus of the week’s training sessions for Arsene Wenger.
Away day troubles for Arsenal
In eight games away from the Emirates, Arsenal have secured just nine points this season. This record places them ninth in the away form table, a stat that is simply not good enough for a team that should have the ambitions to challenge for a title.
Moreover, they have scored just nine goals across those fixtures. It is hard to know what can change to alter this course, but Arsenal fans will watch in frustration as another season of opportunity slips away. Indeed, with Leicester in renewed form, and Burnley playing excellently this season, the Gunners might well worry at holding on to a top seven place.
Marko Arnautovic’s work rate under David Moyes has reflected a significant improvement than his meagre efforts for Slaven Bilic. More than that, however, the Austrian international has added some lethality to his performances.
It was Arnautovic who scored the winner against Chelsea at the weekend, and he almost added a second to his West Ham tally early on last night, his header being ruled offside.
In a side still searching for a talismanic figure following Payet’s exit, Arnautovic has a chance in the coming weeks to make a case that he can still be that man, despite an indifferent start to the season.
Jack Wilshere made his return to the Arsenal starting XI after 577 days away. The midfielder looked bright, and will be viewed as a positive for Arsenal fans after an overall dreary night. Though it was hardly a performance to go down in history, Wilshire worked hard, making driving runs down the pitch, and throwing himself into tackles without fear of injury.
Whether he can work with Ozil and Sanchez in the long run is another matter, but his return still offers needed depth in quality to an Arsenal side that needs to change something very soon.