Unlucky West Ham slip to third straight defeat
PUBLISHED: 17:13 25 August 2018 | UPDATED: 18:07 25 August 2018
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Hammers striker Arnautovic puts West Ham in front but it is not enough
Arsenal 3 West Ham United 1
It proved third-time unlucky for the Hammers at the Emirates Stadium, where Arsenal secured their first win of the season to leave Manuel Pellegrini’s men pointless after their opening trio of games.
Both teams had come into this exciting end-to-end derby with their new managers still licking their wounds from back-to-back defeats but when stand-in skipper Marko Arnautović fired West Ham ahead on 25 minutes it looked like the Chilean’s fortunes were about to change.
But Nacho Monreal quickly levelled before disappointed debutant Issa Diop conceded an unfortunate own-goal with 20 minutes remaining and substitute Danny Welbeck then compounded the Hammers misery in stoppage time.
An opening day loss at Liverpool, allied to last Saturday’s reverse against Bournemouth, had seen Pellegrini make a quartet of changes as Diop and Carlos Sanchez made their first starts alongside the recalled duo of Ryan Fredericks and Michail Antonio, while Mark Noble (back), Angelo Ogbonna plus substitutes Pablo Zabaleta and Javier Hernández each stood down.
A tricky fixture list had also seen Unai Emery endure a baptism of fire in his first two Premier League encounters but having suffered defeats against Manchester City and Chelsea, the newly-installed Arsenal boss made just one enforced switch from the side that had stumbled at Stamford Bridge, last weekend as Aaron Ramsey came in for Mesut Özil (flu)
There were just a dozen minutes on the clock, when the recalled Ramsey thought that he had fired the Gunners ahead but after heading past former Emirates team-mate Lukasz Fabianski, his joy was quickly dampened by the sight of an offside flag.
With Antonio cutting a lively figure down the left flank, the Hammers responded through Arnautović and Arthur Masuaku, who both ripped angled efforts into the side-netting before Diop – a £22 million close-season signing from Toulouse – saw his penalty appeals waved away after tumbling in the Arsenal area.
Returning to the Emirates, Jack Wilshere also broke forward before an accelerating Alex Iwobi made up the yards to tackle the escaping West Ham midfielder, who really did need a warning cry from his supporting team-mates.
Elsewhere, Fredericks also won possession and scorched up the right-wing but with the Hammers over-elaborating, the outnumbered Arsenal defence mopped up the danger.
On 25 minutes, though, West Ham were far more clinical, when record-signing Felipe Anderson strode from midfield before linking with Arnautović on the edge of the area. Surrounded by a trio of markers the Austrian played a deft one-two with the Brazilian and upon now receiving the return into space, Arnautović ignored Sokratis’ lunge before letting fly with a low 20-yarder that eluded Petr Cech’s outstretched right-glove before tearing into the bottom left-hand corner.
Having seen the Hammers captain put the visitors ahead with his second goal of the season, Arsenal took just five minutes to respond.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan played in the overlapping Hector Bellerin, whose low right-wing cross into the danger-zone was palmed onto Iwobi’s torso by the grounded Fabianski, who could only look on in horror from the Emirates turf as Monreal arrived at the far edge of the six-yard box, where he lashed home the equaliser.
In reply, Antonio curled a 20-yarder around the right-hand post before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang fired just inches over Fabianski’s crossbar from similar range and, as the half drew to a close, Arsenal’s £56 million striker felt the full force of the consequently-cautioned Diop’s studs.
In stoppage time, the wasteful Robert Snodgrass was foiled by Cech from close-range and having seen his side survive that late scare, Emery pitched on Alexandre Lacazette for the restart in place of Iwobi.
Just as the first-half had seen the action ebb and flow between ends, it was business as usual after the break, too, as the flying Fabianski clawed away Shkodran Mustafi’s awkward header before Arnautović blasted high over at the far post.
After surviving a goalmouth scramble that saw Aubameyang, Lacazette and Monreal each fail to find the net, Granit Xhaka then tested the Hammers ‘keeper from 30 yards before Anderson burst forward and invited Arnautović to sweep his shot into the clutches of Cech.
That was to be the Austrian’s last contribution of the afternoon as he limped away to be replaced by Hernández, while Arsenal also introduced Lucas Torreira – a £26 million signing from Sampdoria - in place of Matteo Guendouzi, before ex-Gunner Lucas Perez came on for Antonio in a flurry of switches.
Hernández wasted no time in curling an angled 20-yarder agonisingly beyond the far post before fellow South American, Anderson, strode into the heart of the Arsenal defence before unleashing a stinging 20-yarder that Cech found too hot to handle but the stretching Perez just could not reach the loose ball.
On 69 minutes, Lady Luck deserted the Hammers in their own area, too, when the Gunners fortuitously took the lead after Ramsey’s forward header was controlled by the well-shackled Lacazette, whose attempted cross to strike-partner Aubameyang on the edge of the six-yard box ricocheted off Diop’s ribcage beyond Fabianski.
Arsenal simply did not care how they had got their noses in front and buoyed by Diop’s misfortune, they had the Hammers keeper on red alert in final stages as Aubameyang, substitute Welbeck and Ramsey all generated saves from Fabianski, while at the other end, substitute Andriy Yarmolenko and Anderson might each have salvaged the point the visitors deserved but both drove across goal in the closing stages.
And then in stoppage time, Arsenal rubbed yet more salt into West Ham’s wounds, when Mkhitaryan invited the overlapping Bellerin to send a low right-wing cross into the six-yard box, where Welbeck turned and stabbed past Fabianski, to cement a Gunners win that leaves Pellegrini still looking for that elusive first point of the season.
GUNNERS: Cech, Bellerin, Monreal, Sokratis, Mustafi, Guendouzi (Torreira 56), Xhaka, Ramsey, Iwobi (Lacazette h/t), Mkhitaryan, Aubameyang (Welbeck 75). Unused subs: Leno, Elneny, Lichsteiner, Holding.
HAMMERS: Fabianski, Fredericks, Masuaku, Balbeuna, Diop, Sanchez, Wilshere, Antonio (Perez 63), Snodgrass (Yarmolenko 75), Anderson, Arnautović (Hernández 59). Unused subs: Adrián, Zabaleta, Obiang, Rice.
Booked: Diop (41), Fredericks (81), Wilshere (88), Sokratis (90)
Referee: Graham Scott.