Match Report: West Ham 1 – 3 Arsenal

West Ham United (1) 1 Arsenal (0) 3
Premier League
London Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London E20 2ST
Monday, 9th December 2019. Kick-off time: 8.00pm
(4-2-3-1) Bernd Leno; Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Calum Chambers, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Kieran Tierney; Lucas Torreira, Granit Xhaka; Nicolas Pépé, Mesut Özil, Gabriel Martinelli; Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Substitutes: Alexandre Lacazette, David Luiz, Reiss Nelson, Emiliano Martínez, Mattéo Guendouzi, Sead Kolašinac, Bukayo Saka.
Scorers: Gabriel Martinelli (59 mins), Nicolas Pépé (66 mins), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (68 mins)
Arsenal Possession Percentage: 64%
Referee: Mike Dean
Attendance: 59,936
Nobody in their right mind wants to come to the London Stadium tonight, with our results being as they have been recently; but it is what it is, and we have to dig deep and try to get a result here. It started badly enough, when even before a ball was kicked in anger, unfortunately, Hector Bellerin was unable to play tonight due to injury, so Ainsley Maitland-Niles took his place at right-back. However, after an extremely sluggish start in which both sides struggled to make a decent fist of things, Kieran Tierney was replaced by Sead Kolašinac at left-back as it looked like a shoulder injury meant that he was unable to carry on. 
We appeared to continue to be asleep until seven minutes before half-time, when a West Ham corner, which was only half-cleared at best, came across to Angelo Ogbonna, who hurled himself at the ball. His subsequent header gave the home side the lead after bouncing off one or two of our defenders. We now looked all over the shop, and just before the break, the home side nearly added a second. One down before half time, we certainly looked like a side that looked relieved that Mike Dean blew his whistle when he did, especially with the agony of five minutes extra time as well.
We started the second half in the same way as we left the first, really, In the first ten minutes, the only incident of note was when Nicolas Pépé was brutally chopped down by Aaron Cresswell, who injured himself so badly in the process, was substituted. Sadly we wasted the subsequent free-kick from Mesut Özil, as we have done earlier in the match. However, just before the hour, a miracle happened. We woke up. Sead Kolašinac crossed a low ball in from the left, and on the end of it was Gabriel Martinelli who equalised the scores with a superb shot from close range. We now picked ourselves up, gained confidence and started to make chances for ourselves at last. 
On the sixty-sixth minute, Nicolas Pépé, on the edge of the West Ham penalty area, picked his spot, and curled the ball into the top left hand corner of the net. Just two minutes later, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang made it 3-1 to us when a classy Mesut Özil ball found Nicolas Pépé on the right. His cross found the Arsenal captain, who wasted no time in scoring our third goal of the evening, all in the space of just eight minutes. With five minutes left of the match, Granit Xhaka was taken off due to an injury, and was replaced by Mattéo Guendouzi, who immediately involved himself in the spirit of the match, and a couple of minutes later, Nicolas Pépé, was replaced by Reiss Nelson. And that was that, really. For the rest of the match we just consolidated our lead and saw out the rest of the game in charge of proceedings.
For fifty-five minutes, we were surely all fearing a sense of déjà vu; and then, we just exploded into life, with three goals in eight minutes. The risks in the team selection tonight were all Freddie Ljungberg’s and in the end, with all things being equal, it paid off in the best way possible, three goals, three points, and no bookings. We became totally unrecognisable from the team that crashed so badly against Brighton, and by the end of the match, we played with style and movement, and dare I say it, confidence. Here at the London Stadium tonight, it wasn’t the second coming, but it was a well-deserved win in the end, and for that we should all be thankful. Manchester City await at The Emirates on Sunday; now there’s a thought. Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, stick with the winners. Our next match: Standard Liège at Stade Maurice Dufrasne, Liège, Belgium on Thursday, 12th December at 5.55pm (Europa League). Be there, if you can. Victoria Concordia Crescit.

Steve

Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon.

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