Ghost returns: Arsenal 1 West Ham 0

No sooner you think the late Wenger and Emery malaise had been scourged by Mikel Arteta and his assistants than it returns with the unpredictability of a ghost.

And so it was with this match, symbolized by Xhaka’s careless pass in the first two minutes, easily picked up by Bowen who drove and shot against the upright. It set the tone.

West Ham started unchanged from the win against Southampton, which ended their seven-game winless run. They lined up in a 4-4-2 but have a counter-attack style. Arsenal were seven Premier games without defeat and gave Mari his league debut.

Arsenal appeared to be lacking energy and tempo and they certainly weren’t pressing hard.

The midfield looked a physical mismatch with Ceballos and Xhaka struggling to cope with direct running. It is games like these when Torriera will be missed.

Antonio broke right through but passed behind Haller when it should have been a goal.

It took some time for Arsenal to muster and attack and it was brilliant ball retention by Saka which led to a Xhaka cross and an Ozil shot – saved by Fabianski.

Noble sent a through ball to Haller but a bad first touch led to Leno saving.

Aubameyang, who had been fairly anonymous, clipped a dangerous ball into the West Ham area and Sokratis running in headed it onto the bar when perhaps he should have done better.

From a Noble corner, Diop headed to Antonio who swiveled but it touched it wide when it would have been easier to score.

And the West Ham chances kept coming. Haller sent it to Antonio who again should have scored with just Leno to beat, but the German, who was fast becoming man of the match saved the header from six-yard line.

Bowen charged through the Arsenal midfield with ease and shot – straight at Leno.

At the other end Lacazette claimed a penalty after being held by Ogbonna, but VAR dismissed it.

It was no surprise when the breakthrough came it would be Saka dribbling inside and passing to Aubameyang whose shot deflected up. Ozil nodded to Lacazette who drove it past Fabianski.


West Ham have lost all 12 from going behind first this season.

And history repeated itself.

The worrying thing is that West Ham are in a relegation fight but were the better team here.

Mikel Arteta said: “The most important thing is to find a way to win. That is what the big clubs do. A lot of things need to improve. But let us just enjoy today. We have to take it game by game.”

Arsenal: Leno, Papastathopoulos (Booked at 63), David Luiz, Marí, Saka, Ceballos, Xhaka, Pépé) (Substituted for Nelson at 69), Özil (Substituted for Bellerín at 89) Aubameyang, Nketiah (Substituted for Lacazette at 59)

West Ham: Fabianski, Ngakia, Diop, Ogbonna, Cresswell, Bowen (Substituted for Snodgrass at 90),Noble (Substituted for Soucek at 81), Rice, Fornals (Booked at 9, Substituted for Felipe Anderson at 87), Antonio (Booked at 90), Haller.