Maybe the Unai Emery era starts now. At least there are points on the board, a home victory and a sense of momentum. The problematic early fixtures of Manchester City and Chelsea are behind them and here was a chance to better assess some progress.
There was no Mesut Ozil – he was said to be ill – but this is the man who subbed off last week and doesn’t exactly look to be at the heart of Emery’s master plan. At least it allowed Aaron Ramsey, another whose future is doubt, to be restored to the starting line-up.
By the end, the Emirates reverberated with applause and satisfaction. That said, West Ham are the most-obliging of guests to receive when an early-season crisis requires averting. And if a West Ham side bottom of the table can create numerous chances against you and stay in the game until the final minute, it would suggest that the Arsenal reboot will take a some time.
Arsenal claimed their first Premier League victory of the Unai Emery era on Saturday against West Ham at the Emirates
An Issa Diop own goal with around 20 minutes left to play ensured a scrappy win in the London derby on Saturday afternoon
Gunners strikers Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrate their side’s fortunate winner
Austrian forward Marko Arnautovic fired West Ham into the lead with a powerful strike from the edge of the area
Arnautovic continued his good run of form in front of goal and drilled a low effort past a helpless Petr Cech in goal
Nacho Monreal soon scored an equaliser for the hosts though as he fired a half volley past a crowded goal line
The Spanish defender held his position at the back post, took one touch and fired a short into the back of the net
Alex Iwobi was eventually awarded the assist as the ball must’ve flicked his foot on the way through to Monreal
Danny Welbeck then wrapped things up in stoppage time with a composed finish to make sure all three points were secured
Unai Emery got his first win as Arsenal boss in the bag after tough opening fixtures against Manchester City and Chelsea
MATCH FACTS, PLAYER RATINGS, LEAGUE TABLE AND MATCH ZONE
Arsenal: Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Papastathopoulos, Monreal, Guendouzi (Torreira 56), Xhaka, Mkhitaryan, Ramsey, Iwobi (Lacazette 45), Aubameyang (Welbeck 75).
Subs not used: Elneny, Lichtsteiner, Holding, Leno.
Goals: Monreal 29, Diop OG 70, Welbeck 90+2
Manager: Unai Emery
West Ham: Fabianski, Fredericks, Balbuena, Diop, Masuaku, Sanchez, Wilshere, Anderson, Snodgrass (Yarmolenko 75), Antonio (Perez 63), Arnautovic (Hernandez 59).
Subs not used: Zabaleta, Adrian, Rice, Obiang.
Goals: Arnautovic 24
Bookings: Diop, Fredericks
Manager: Manuel Pellegrini
Referee: Graham Scott
- Premier League
- Premier League
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- League Two
- Scottish Premiership
- Scottish Div 1
- Scottish Div 2
- Scottish Div 3
- Ligue 1
- Serie A
- La Liga
Nacho Monreal drew Arsenal level when he finished off a well-worked team move at the back post. Click HERE for more from our Match Zone.
For there is still so much work to do for Emery. He will need to start with the right hand side. Once again, as at Chelsea, Hector Bellerin and Henrik Mkhitaryan were the principal attacking threat and decent enough too. Indeed, Arsenal’s goal came from that source. But so did West Ham’s on 23 minutes.
Felipe Anderson, looking lively throughout and something like a record signing, simply had a free run down the left hand side as West Ham recovered the ball and advanced quickly. Bellerin was nowhere to be seen. A nutmeg, a slick exchange of pass with Arnautovic allowed him to tee up the centre forward for a striker at goal just outside the box. The Austrian didn’t disappoint with a clinical, powerful finish.
It wasn’t a surprise. Neither side looked at all comfortable with the system employed by their manager but Arsenal looked the most ill at ease by far. A more-aggressive team who had pressed them harder would have created a succession of chances.
Managers Unai Emery and Manuel Pellegrini shared an embrace as they made their way out of the tunnel before kick-off
Jack Wilshere made his first trip back to the Emirates Stadium after leaving the club in the summer on a free
Arsenal’s Matteo Guendouzi shields the ball away from West Ham’s Felipe Anderson as he looks to find a team-mate
Arsenal’s German defender Shkodran Mustafi tackles West Ham’s Issa Diop in the box and manages to clear his lines
Arsenal’s defence were caught high up on several occasions and Arnautovic got in once again but glanced a header wide
West Ham’s summer signing Ryan Fredericks glides past Monreal and Iwobi down the right hand side for the visitors
West Ham winger Michail Antonio uses all of his power and speed to charge down the left past the trailing Bellerin
But Arsenal are not inept going forward under Emery, They can look slick at their best and did so on 30 minutes when Mkhitaryan picked out Bellerin – that combination again. The Catalan’s well struck cross squeezed in-between Lukasz Fabianski and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, so close that you felt the goalkeeper might have deflected it away. He didn’t and the ball ended at the feet of Nacho Monreal who struck it home for 1-1.
That did not, however, kick start the Emery revolution. The mistakes from Bellerin continued, though he was not the only culprit, Granit Xhaka and Matteo Guendouzi both guilty of losing possession in key areas. A corner routine, which saw Mkitaryan play it short to Alex Iwobi who fed it back to Bellerin who in turn turned it way back into towards their own half to Guendouzi smacked of a lack of confidence and any clear ideas.
And the space they leave at the back simply invites teams to hit balls over them and start a sprint race with Skokdran Mustafi and Sokratis, which any striker knows he will win.
Arnautovic interchanged nicely with Felipe Anderson and then hit a sensational first time effort to open the scoring
Only Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah has been directly involved in more Premier League goals in 2018 than Arnautovic
Emery looked unhappy with what he was seeing from his Arsenal players as his defence was constantly caught too high up
Veteran goalkeeper Cech watches an effort go wide of the post as Monreal looks at the action with concern
The Spanish defender was much more relieved though when he drew Arsenal level not long after going behind
There weren’t without attacking threat, Mkhitaryan, consistently their best outlet, fed Ramsey on 37 minutes whose shot was deflected into Fabianski. But they were also inviting West Ham on to them time and time again: Antonio shot wide on 40 minutes and Robert Snodgrass was literally clutching his jead when he failed to score on the stroke of half time, put through by Antonio and shooting tamely at Cech.
But another sub plot though developing, which would ultimately cost West Ham: Issa Diop, their £23m signing from Toulouse, was making his debut and completely ill at ease, consistently bullied and tricked by Aubameyang. On one such occasion he earned a yellow card for a kick so high on the knee it might have been red. That was at least better handled by referee Graham Scott who failed to show any cards when Xhaka crashed into Snodgrass on 44 minutes.
Emery, as he did last week, changed at half time, Alexandre Lacazette coming on from Alex Iwobi and taking up a central role with Aubameyang out wide. There was Mustafi header saved by Fabianski on 46minutes but equally on 50 minutes Arnautovic should have done much better with Snodgrass’s finely weighted free kick, slicing horribly wide.
Monreal ran over to celebrate with Bellerin, who played a crucial role in the creation of the opportunity
Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was kept quiet for most of the first half with a disciplined West Ham display
West Ham midfielder Robert Snodgrass squandered a good chance when his effort towards the far corner was cleared away
West Ham goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski makes a save at full reach to deny Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey
Arnautovic’s afternoon ended on a sour note though as he was forced to come off injured midway through the second half
Arsenal players will be relieved to get three points on the board following defeats against Chelsea and Manchester City
But Diop’s horror moment came on 69 minutes. First, from a corner, he sliced a horrible clearance high into the air allowing Arsenal to work it back into the box. Then, as Lacazete battled and shot, he deflected the ball into his own net.
For a ten-minute spell, Arsenal look formidable – or was it that West Ham were inept? – with Fabianski saving from Aubameyang on 71 minutes and then from Ramsey on 83 minutes. And yet Felipe Anderson’s breaks were a constant threat of an equaliser: if Lucas Perez could done better on 84 minutes or Andriy Yarmolenko simply read his pass in the 90th minute, West Ham could have grabbed a point or more.
As it was, they simply allowed Arsenal all the space they needed in injury time, Mkhitaryan again feeding Bellerin whose cross back found Wellbeck embarrassingly unmarked to turn in for 3-1.