Hammers Fail to Find Killer Touch Against Gunners
By Tom Dowsett
Sunday 08 Mar 2020 16:27:00
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West Ham United are still looking for their first away win of 2020 in the Premier League after they started March with a 1-0 a defeat to Arsenal at The Emirates Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

David Moyes saw no need to make any changes to his starting line-up and went with the team that performed so impressively at home to Southampton last weekend, although Tomáš Souček was included amongst the substitutes after it was originally thought that he'd be out of action for three weeks with the injury he sustained in the recent defeat against Liverpool.

The Hammers, who have already recorded notable results against Manchester United and Chelsea this season, started well and almost went in front inside three minutes here.

Jarrod Bowen picked up possession thanks to a loose ball from Granit Xhaka. The former Hull City winger who was prolific for the Tigers and already has his first West Ham goal tried his luck and although goalkeeper Bernd Leno managed to get his fingertips to the winger's effort, the ball came back off the post.

Despite missing that chance, the Irons were still putting the Gunners under pressure and wasted another clear opportunity when Pablo Fornals and Michail Antonio combined to great effect. However, with Sébastien Haller waiting to receive the ball, Antonio couldn't find him and the chance had gone.

The visitors were thankful that they weren't made to pay for that miss, as Eddie Nketiah set up Mesut Özil. The German's effort seemed like it was going in but, luckily for the visitors, it took a deflection off Aaron Cresswell and the danger was eventually averted when Łukasz Fabiański claimed the ball.

This was proving to be an exciting London derby as the game was still swinging from end to end but unfortunately for West Ham, when Captain Mark Noble played Haller through, the Frenchman's first touch let him down. This meant Leno was able to gather easily.

The home side saw a great chance pass them by when good linkup play involving Nicolas Pépé and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang eventually ended with defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos hitting the crossbar when it seemed easier to score.

Pépé had another chance soon after but he was denied a shot on goal, thanks to a well-timed challenge by Declan Rice.

Moyes would have been pleased with his side's effort but annoyed with the fact that they were wasting numerous chances when in good positions. This happened again just before the break, as Noble sent over a corner which was headed on by Issa Diop. The ball then found its way to Antonio but he couldn't get a good enough touch and consequently missed from two-yards out.

Despite having chances to go into the break ahead, the East Londoners still would have been fairly pleased to get to the halfway point with the deadlock yet to be broken.

Mikel Arteta's side were quickest out of the blocks once the action had recommenced and were denied by a great save from Fabiański. Bukayo Saka had played in Pépé but fortunately for the travelling support, Diop had spotted the danger and got in the way to prevent Nketiah from opening the scoring.

With the game remaining level, the Hammers were still coming forward and Antonio was the next player to go close when Haller helped to send Cresswell's cross over to the former Nottingham Forest man but unfortunately, Leno made a superb save.

The German then claimed Bowen's close range effort before substitute Alexandre Lacazette's volley from Saka's cross was expertly blocked by Cresswell.

The defences continued to be on top as both sides had good chances. It was the turn of the hosts to go first but Diop blocked Lacazette's route to goal, while Fornals saw his volley from Noble's cross saved by Leno. Unfortunately for the visitors, it wouldn't have counted as the Spaniard was offside.

With twelve minutes to go, there were mixed emotions for the Irons when Lacazette finally made the breakthrough. Referee Martin Atkinson originally ruled the effort out but a lengthy VAR check decided there was nothing wrong with the goal and correctly spotted that Angelo Ogbonna had played the Frenchman onside.

The visitors nearly found a quick response as Haller gained possession from Bowen's cross but Leno wasn't to be beaten.

Moyes made his first change with nine minutes of normal time left, as he replaced the skipper with Souček.

The Irons were applying pressure but were unable to make it count. Fornals couldn't quite reach Cresswell's inviting cross, while David Luiz produced a timely block.

Felipe Anderson was brought on to replace Fornals with three minutes of the ninety remaining, while during the five additional minutes, Robert Snodgrass joined the action in place of Bowen.

The East Londoners would've travelled home disappointed but with results going their way, they remain sixteenth in the table. 

With only goal difference currently keeping them out of the relegation zone, it looks like they will need to get something from next Sunday's home encounter with Wolverhampton Wanderers, as well as rely on other teams slipping up on Saturday.

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