Agonizing Day At The Emirates
By Tom Dowsett
Sunday 26 Aug 2018 15:04:00
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West Ham United have made an identical start to this season as they did the last campaign. They fell back to the bottom of the table after a 3-1 defeat to Arsenal on Saturday afternoon.

Manuel Pellegrini rotated his squad again as he made four changes to the team that were beaten at home by AFC Bournemouth last weekend. Issa Diop and Carlos Sánchez were both given their debuts in place of the injured Mark Noble and Angelo Ogbonna who was left out of the squad completely, while Ryan Fredericks and Michail Antonio came in to replace Pablo Zabaleta and Javier Hernández who dropped to the bench.

There was no place in the squad either for Aaron Cresswell, while Declan Rice was back in the matchday eighteen after not being involved against the Cherries a week ago.

With Noble missing, Marko Arnautovic was named captain of the side for what looked an intriguing London derby.

Although it was an open start to the game, West Ham were keen to exploit the gaps that Arsenal were leaving for them but they were unable to take advantage.

The visitors were able to breathe a collective sigh of relief after twelve minutes when Aaron Ramsey's effort had beaten former Gunners' goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski but thankfully, referee Graham Scott had ruled his strike out for offside.

Pellegrini's side then had a great chance when Robert Snodgrass played in Arnautovic but the Austrian sent his attempt inches wide.

Fortunately though, his next effort put the Hammers in front as he struck a low shot from just outside the box after combining to great effect with Felipe Anderson and bringing loud cheers from the loyal travelling support.

The hosts were back on level terms just four minutes later however, when Hector Bellerin sent in a testing cross which eluded West Ham's defence, only for the ball to fall kindly for Nacho Monreal who then steered it beyond Fabianski to equalise.

In previous seasons, you would have expected Arsenal to pick up the pace and begin to orchestrate matters but on this occasion, the didn't and the Irons had chances to go ahead once more but unfortunately, they failed to make the most of them.

This was evident when Antonio found himself through on goal but his effort was tame and easy for Petr Cech to save.

West Ham could have made things more comfortable for themselves when Arnautovic thought he had scored a second. The former Stoke City winger had linked up well with Snodgrass but his celebrations were cut short as the linesman raised his flag again.

The East Londoners kept trying to grab the advantage back before the break but weren't having too much success. Antonio's curling effort went wide before Snodgrass forced a great save from Cech deep into added time.

If a winner was going to come from this game, it was clear that both teams needed to work on their finishing.

The teams came back out after the break and Unai Emery's side missed a terrific chance to increase their advantage when Fabianski excellently saved Shkodran Mustafi's fierce header.

That Arnautovic, Anderson combination was still paying dividends for West Ham and it nearly worked its magic again but unfortunately, chances continued to be wasted.

Arnautovic, who has so far scored all of West Ham's goals this season had appeared to pick up an injury after being sent clear by Anderson. The stand-in skipper gave the armband to Sánchez, as Pellegrini quickly replaced the "star man" with Hernández. It seemed that wasn't the only injury concern for the Chilean, as he had to make another change just four minutes later when Antonio also had a problem, so a former Arsenal player was introduced as Lucas Pérez came on to replace him.

Cech fumbled a shot from Anderson and the ball almost fell to the Spaniard but the danger was cleared before it reached the returning striker.

The hosts went ahead for the first time with 70 minutes gone, as Diop inadvertently turned half-time substitute Alexandre Lacazette's cross past his own goalkeeper and Arsenal seemed likely to claim a first three points of the campaign.

Despite being on the offensive for so long, West Ham didn't give up and were determined to salvage something. Five minutes later, Pellegrini shuffled his pack again bringing on Andriy Yarmolenko for Snodgrass.

The Hammers had the chance to take a point but the Ukrainian couldn't apply the final touch to a great team move involving Hernández, Fredericks and Anderson.

Instead, Arsenal secured the points in second-half stoppage time when Danny Welbeck was presented with the easiest of finishes past Fabianski.

The Irons will be keen to get their season up and running as they are back in action on Tuesday evening, when they make the trip to The Cherry Red Records Stadium to face AFC Wimbledon in a Carabao Cup second round tie.

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