LONDON – For the first time since October 2020, Arsenal have broken into the top four of the Premier League. It’s not all and end all for a club of this caliber and ultimately what matters to Mikel Arteta is where they are in May and not December. But the 2-0 win over West Ham United at the Emirates on Wednesday was a significant step up in a time of trial.
This has been a tumultuous week off the pitch. On that Arsenal have transferred. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s replacement captain, Alexandre Lacazette, was a cool head to compliment the white heat of the young strikers around him. Gabriel Martinelli and Emile Smith Rowe had second-half goals, rich rewards for a performance they thought they were the better team even as David Moyes decided to give Vladimir Coufal a second yellow card for what The suggested replays are legal settlement.
There are too many unanswered questions for Arsenal this season. Can a team aspiring to a top spot in the Premier League escape a steady association in the hands of the league’s best? What about the consistent record of beating the top players of the flight up to over 38 games? There are still plenty of games left of this campaign before a conclusion can be drawn while Manchester United and Tottenham have matches on their hands to stay ahead of their opponents. It is still a significant result for Arteta’s side, who for the first time this season have beaten a team that can be considered even.
If that claim is controversial it is only because West Ham appear to have played too low by the standards they normally set. Whether due to Arsenal’s press or the absence of light-hearted figures like Aaron Cresswell and Kurt Zouma at the back, they simply cannot squeeze into midfield. With Jarrod Bowen and Manuel Lanzini pulled in to support the opposing full-back, Michail Antonio found himself on some sort of island until a red card for Vladimir Coufal forced him back into the right-back position where he was. he started his career.
Any observer of the Premier League’s top three would doubt that this is a match between the league’s fourth and fifth place, the technical excellence of a Manchester City or the Liverpool cut being replaced. Hence, the ball was tense under pressure in the case of West Ham and an early aversion from Arsenal to kick the ball towards goal. They eventually shook that off and were by far the dominant force of the first half.
A flurry of penalties seem to have proven them worth putting pressure on West Ham’s goal. Bukayo Saka’s dart from the left was too much for Arthur Masuaku, who always needed at least one defender, but Arsenal’s No 7 kicked the left-back’s calf rather than foul. Then it was the turn of Martinelli and Lacazette to rush into the penalty area. West Ham’s pins flew in from all directions, somehow doing enough to secure Lukasz Fabianski’s goal without attracting Michael Oliver’s interest. Kieran Tierney would have come closer than anyone else, a stunning strike that swam over the bar for the Polish keeper shortly after Granit Xhaka’s close ranged shot was blocked by a string of Hammers defenders.
After the drama of recent days, captain Lacazette has shown real leadership on the pitch. On nights like this, every player around the number 9 will improve dramatically. This is football without an ego from a star. The ball comes to him but only in the foul situation. He was as happy to give it to someone else as to take it for himself, although at least he did the latter. Starting the day averaging more minutes per shot than Craig Dawson or Rodri, the Frenchman isn’t too shy in front of goal, an elegant first-half cut that helped Fabianski make a smart save. Martinelli should have buried the recovery.
It won’t take him long to make amends. Lacazette’s drop in the middle of the field caught Dawson’s attention. As he moved forward, Martinelli found his corner to dash in. An explosive dart shot in the back before opening the ball into the far corner. It was a goal more reminiscent of an Arsenal number 14.
As recently as a week ago, one might expect Arsenal to sit back to their dangerous advantage. Arteta has insisted after his players led to defeats against Manchester United and Everton that this was not his intention; that’s certainly not how they approached their mission 42 minutes later. West Ham’s goal is often under pressure but they will have every right to feel heartbroken when Anthony Taylor gives the hosts a penalty and Coufal receives a second yellow card.
One can understand why Taylor thinks Coufal had the man before the ball but VAR Peter Bankes could easily nullify his point of view. It is difficult to see that this did not reach the threshold of intervention and although Lacazette missed the penalty, West Ham’s task was made even greater by only one man less.
As for Arsenal, although they have not simply handed over control of the game to their opponents, they have barely kept it to themselves. Takehiro Tomiyasu nearly headers the ball back into his own net. Aaron Ramsdale’s attempt to save his thigh might have gone before landing safely on touchdown. It seemed like they could throw West Ham a lifeline but there’s so much more to this youthful core with ice in its veins.
Emile Smith Rowe’s replacement is definitely one of them; Effervescent Saka took the lead with a late tackle that his fellow graduate Hale End ended with a bomb, speeding to the edge of the box and shooting down Fabianski. Last term was not a shot that Smith Rowe would take. He now has his sixth goal of the Premier League season. If you’re inclined to see Arsenal’s flourishing, he embodies it, a player who is developing rapidly from very high ground to a young player… and he is being left out of the team by good form of Martin Odegaard, Saka and Martinelli.
There’s certainly no one at Emirates Stadium who needs to believe in these young players. “Saka and Emile Smith Rowe” exploded across the ground. Sooner or later they might need to find a new song to squeeze in Martinelli.
https://www.cbssports.com/soccer/news/arsenal-vs-west-ham-score-gunners-move-into-premier-leagues-top-four-with-impressive-win/ Arsenal vs West Ham score: Gunners enter the top 4 of the Premier League with an impressive victory