Hammers Help Gunners to Fire Again
By Tom Dowsett
Tuesday 10 Dec 2019 14:22:00
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Arsenal had not won a Premier League away game since the opening day of the season but their 3-1 victory over West Ham United on Monday night left the Hammers sixteenth in the table and without a win in Stratford since 22 September.

One change was made to the side that faced Wolverhampton Wanderers five days earlier, as Michail Antonio regained his place from Sébastien Haller. It was a special night for goalkeeper David Martin, who was making his home debut since his summer move from Millwall, while Captain Mark Noble appeared for the 500th time in a Claret and Blue shirt.

The final outcome of the match might have been different had the home side taken advantage of an early opportunity. Great play from Noble and Felipe Anderson set up the former Nottingham Forest man but his effort from the edge of the box missed the target.

The Gunners, who were now under the guidance of Freddie Ljungberg hadn't won since October and were looking as though they weren't doing anything to change that, as the hosts were making most of the early running but unfortunately, they were ultimately unable to make their pressure pay.

Robert Snodgrass, who was fit enough to retain his place in midfield after suffering a nasty injury at Molineux last time out, won a free-kick in the dangerous position but Pablo Fornals couldn't finish the chance off and instead, it was straight at visiting goalkeeper Bernd Leno.

Arsenal have been well known for their free-flowing football and ability to cut through defences at pace in recent years but the Irons were desperate to keep their shape. On the one occasion that they let the visitors through, Mesut Özil wasted the chance by sending the ball over the bar after the German had received possession from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's cross.

Antonio is a real key player for West Ham and he was definitely causing problems for the Gunners. He forced Leno to make a save after pressurising their defence.

After failing to make the most of that opportunity, the home side did go in front just four minutes later when Angelo Ogbonna headed in his second goal in as many home games. A corner from Snodgrass was cleared but West Ham kept the move alive, thanks to a combination of Declan Rice, Fornals and the skipper but it was Fornals who made the telling touch, as his cross was met by the Italian defender who gave the home side a deserved lead.

Of course, VAR intervened again; checking for a possible handball but nothing was spotted and for the first time since the system was implemented at the start of the season, a goal was given to the East Londoners,

Although there wasn't much to get excited about in the first half, the home fans did cheer their team off the pitch when referee Mike Dean blew the whistle for the break.

Ljungberg's men were almost the architects of their own downfall when the game resumed as Snodgrass nearly scored a second after pouncing on a defensive mistake from Granit Xhaka but luckily for them, his effort was deflected behind.

The Scotsman was in the thick of the action again as he then set up Rice but unfortunately, his 20-yard shot was comfortably saved by Leno.

The Hammers were then dealt a blow with fifty minutes gone, as Aaron Cresswell picked up an injury and had to be replaced by Arthur Masuaku.

The visitors suddenly netted an equaliser out of nothing with an hour gone. Sead Kolašinac found some space and crossed for summer signing Gabriel Martinelli and his first-time shot beat Martin.

Arsenal then really turned on the style, as just six minutes later, they went in front and it was all down to Nicolas Pépé's own work. He received possession on the right wing before sending a swerving effort into the net, giving Martin no chance.

It was a devastating ten minute spell from the visitors who put the game out of sight inside seventy minutes as Aubameyang finished the job off, insuring another miserable night for the home faithful.

In recent weeks, the ever loyal West Ham fan base have grown increasingly frustrated with Manuel Pellegrini's decision making. 

A number of strange calls were made again here as he took off his two most influential players. Just seconds after the third goal, he replaced Anderson with Haller and followed that up eight minutes later by withdrawing Snodgrass and introducing youngster Nathan Holland. The crowd certainly didn't hold back when letting the manager know exactly what they thought about the changes.

It was a disappointing end to a match that up until the sixty sixth minute had looked like it would yield a positive result for the hosts but in the end those half-time cheers turned to jeers. The Irons now head to St Mary's to face Southampton in Saturday's late kick-off, desperately in need of a reaction.

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