|match review copied from www.theguardian.com|
Eddie Nketiah strikes late to give Arsenal victory over West Ham
Nick Ames at the Emirates Stadium
Date Published Sat 19 Sep 2020 22.03 BST
Squabbling siblings one week, happy families the next. Last weekend, Eddie Nketiah and Dani Ceballos briefly came to blows at Fulham after a dispute in the pre-match warmup, simmering down before watching Arsenal cruise home from opposite ends of the substitutes’ bench.
This time they combined at close quarters to squeeze a good outcome from a poor performance, Ceballos squaring five minutes from the end to give his teammate a tap-in and leaving a vastly improved West Ham feeling aggrieved to depart with nothing.
Arsenal had hardly looked like adding to Alexandre Lacazette’s 25th- minute header, which was deservedly cancelled out by Michail Antonio shortly before half-time, and were more preoccupied with matters inside their own penalty area for a long spell in the second period.
But they possess players who can lift them above the mean in seconds and it is a credit to Nketiah, a 21-year-old striker with an old-fashioned poacher’s instinct, that he has become one of them.
Nketiah replaced Lacazette with 13 minutes to play and it did not take him long to make Arsenal’s smartest move of the half tell. Bukayo Saka had been integral to the opening goal and now, marauding infield from his starting left wing-back position, he ran at West Ham’s defence. There were eight blue shirts behind the ball but he managed to jab a pass through to Ceballos, who had stayed onside. The midfielder would not have been blamed for exposing an obvious gap inside Lukasz Fabianski’s near post but passed generously and Nketiah could hardly miss.
“It’s all love now,” Nketiah said afterwards and the volume of Arsenal’s celebrations at full-time was testament to that. The emotions might have been significantly different if West Ham, billed as beleaguered opponents, had got what they deserved from a rigorous and inventive display.
They created a flurry of chances in the second half, Antonio coming closest when he headed against Bernd Leno’s bar.
The striker could have departed with a hat-trick, also allowing a relieved Leno to save when Arthur Masuaku’s cross found him a matter of yards out, but David Moyes was left to sing a familiar song.
“We probably should have had three points,” Moyes said. “A lot of things didn’t go for us and we turned off at the last minute, which ultimately cost us.”
Back in March, this fixture had presented both sides’ final action before the Covid-19 shutdown and West Ham were the better side that day too.
The world might have changed immeasurably since then but some things clearly remain the same. Six months ago Lacazette scored a winning goal that was granted after a lengthy VAR check overruled the assistant referee’s flag; now, he found himself on the right side of the technology again when opening the scoring.
The goal owed plenty to Saka, whose through ball down the inside-left to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was perfectly weighted. The captain, newly contracted until 2023, was on point with his chipped delivery and Lacazette raced in to batter a header Fabianski had no hope of repelling.
The check at Stockley Park was prompted by suspicions Aubameyang had been offside in receiving the pass. Replays suggested part of his upper body might have strayed ahead of the defensive line; it was tight and goals have been chalked off for similar infractions, but this one eventually stood.
West Ham had started well, probing an Arsenal defence that was unsettled by Kieran Tierney’s withdrawal in the warm-up with a tight hip. They kept their heads up after going behind and loudly claimed a spot kick when Gabriel Magalhães, nowhere near as commanding here as on his debut at Craven Cottage, appeared to handball.
“We definitely thought it was a penalty,” Moyes said, although whether it would have made a difference is debatable. The visitors were level soon enough, Arsenal offering little resistance to a move down their right and paying the price when Antonio swept in Ryan Fredericks’ accurate centre.
Arsenal briefly showed more purpose after the interval but soon became ponderous. Arteta was particularly perplexed given his players had just produced what he called “their best week in terms of decision making, quality and execution” in training. “I tried to lift them up and then suddenly I saw a different team in the last 20 minutes,” he said, although Nketiah’s intervention still came out of the blue.
“We were a little bit lucky in certain moments but we found a way to win it and that’s the mentality we want.” A fighting mentality, but this time in the best way.
Daily Mail: MATCH FACTS, PLAYER RATINGS AND LEAGUE TABLE
ARSENAL (3-4-3): Leno 6; Holding, 6 Gabriel 6, Kolasinac 5.5; Bellerin, 6 Ceballos 7, Xhaka 7, Saka 7.5 (Luiz 89); Willian 7 (Pepe 64), Lacazette 7 (Nketiah 77 7.5), Aubameyang 8
Subs not used: Macey, Maitland-Niles, Elneny, Willock
Goalscorers: Lacazette 25, Nketiah 85
WEST HAM (3-4-3): Fabianski 6; Diop, 7 Ogbonna 7, Creswell 7; Fredericks 7.5 Rice 7, Soucek 7.5, Masuaka 7.5 (Anderson 85); Bowen 8 (Yarmolenko 83), Antonio 7.5, Fornals 7 (Haller 87)
Subs not used: Balbuena, Lanzini, Johnson, Randolph
Goalscorers: Antonio 45
Referee: Michael Oliver 6.5