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Arsenal 3-1 West Ham: Just Enough To Bag The Points

Emery was without Mesut Ozil’s services as the German playmaker was ill, so Welshman Aaron Ramsey came into the mix. There was again no room for Lucas Torreira as Granit Xhaka was given another start, and Alex Iwobi kept his place as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang started alone up top.The game started off cagily, perhaps a symptom of both side’s focus on getting their first points on the board - and their tentative defence.It was the home side who thought they had broken the deadlock. Henrikh Mkhitaryan rattled a shot in which former Gunner Lukasz Fabianski parried, only to see the loose ball snaffled home by Ramsey. The Hammers were spared though, thanks to the linesman’s flag.It was then our turn to do some defending, but this time we wouldn’t be rescued by an offside call.Marko Arnautovic worked a one-two with Felipe Anderson on the edge of the box, and the Austrian smashed home from just on the edge of the box. It left Cech with no chance, us still looking for our first clean sheet - and a possible third loss from three.We were looking decent in attack, but ironically it was our defenders who would bring parity back to the scoreline. Bellerin was set free down the right, and his accurate delivery was met by none other than Nacho Monreal, who made the score 1-1.This was just five minutes after going behind, so it is a testament to the desire and mental strength of the team. If only we could master our defence we could be onto something special.Back to the game, and Aubameyang seemed to be getting more and more into the game. A long range effort was just over, and his jinking run came to an abrupt end thanks to Issa Diop’s scything tackle. The set piece was in a promising position, but was blasted into the wall - if only Ozil wasn’t sick…West Ham then gave us a reminder that this game would be a test all the way to the end, as Snodgrass worked his way into a decent position, only to put his effort straight at Cech. It was the last action of the half, and plenty to muse on. Could we tighten things at the back? Could we finally click into top gear up top?The second half began with Iwobi being hooked for Alexandre Lacazette, and we were all hoping that the high line we were playing would be accompanied by a more effective press, but West Ham were looking dangerous and hitting spaces that they shouldn’t be able to.
We were inviting opportunities, but luckily we were bossing possession, and the Hammers needed the ball to make the most of our weakness. We then created the first opportunity of the half, as Shkodran Mustafi’s header was acrobatically palmed over by Fabianski, closely followed by Arnautovic going up the other end to smash a volley just over. End to end stuff.This game could have tilted either way, and it was Hammers frontman Arnautovic that tested Cech, but again it was too close to our keeper to stretch him. It was enough for Emery, who then called for Lucas Torreira to replace Guendouzi.We were roused from our slumber a little, and Lacazette tested Fabianski with a far post effort that the Polish keeper did well to stop. There was a small period then, which saw both teams retreat from their all-out attack status and collect their thoughts. Midfield cagey, defences reset, both teams were settling for the final push to get the points - of which both teams were more than capable of doing.We were probing, with Mkhitaryan looking to cut in and fizz balls from the byline, and it was this that started the move that gave us the lead.The Armenian pushed a ball into the box from the byline and found Lacazette. His strength held the ball and crossed the ball square for Aubameyang. The striker put an effort in and his shot deflected in off Diop to deceive Fabianski.There was twenty minutes to go, and we could have been high and dry minutes later, but Aubameyang’s shot was well saved by Fabianski again. We could have killed the game off there and then.As it was, there was plenty of life in the match. We looked invigorated by the goal though, but our former keeper was in top form, keeping out a couple more efforts.We then made our third sub, with Aubameyang coming off and Welbeck coming on, who would take the left spot in our forward line. Auba can count himself unlucky not to get off the mark, but he still had drawn a blank. It won’t be long before he is off the mark on this display.Torreira was doing the business in midfield and we were keeping the Hammers quiet in comparison to earlier, but a one goal lead is always perilous.West Ham were losing their legs, and every attack we were creating was coming through to Fabianski, who was apparently a one man wall for the away team.But then, West Ham had a great chance. Felipe Anderson raced away from Aaron Ramsey and had the numbers in front of him to make us pay. Fortunately, Anderson chose wrongly, and we cleared.The away team were having one final push but our defence were holding firm, there was mere minutes to hold out.Felipe Anderson then had another chance to equalise, but his cross across the six yard box was met by precisely no-one - thankfully.We hadn’t shown as much attacking silk as we did against Chelsea, but we had done enough to earn the lead, and Bellerin had been instrumental. The Spaniard then made the points safe, as another cross of his found Danny Welbeck, who had a simple finish to grab the points for the Gunners.We saw out the rest of the game, and we had the points..An accomplished performance, off the mark, and no injuries. Job done.
We may not have a settled eleven, but we had the win.