Arsenal put an eventful week behind them with an impressive performance on their way to a 2-0 home victory against West Ham.
Mikel Arteta had stripped the errant Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of the captaincy earlier in the week but his absence from the matchday squad perhaps proved blessing in disguise as the Arsenal forward line again impressed without the Gabonese striker.
Stand-in skipper Alexandre Lacazette and Gabriel Martinelli combined particularly well and were threats throughout. Martinelli’s cool finish across the otherwise outstanding Lukasz Fabianski cracked open an encounter that the home side controlled, with Arsenal kept only at bay by stern resistance from the former Arsenal goalkeeper and Craig Dawson particularly, before Emile Smith Rowe finished off a brisk counter-attack to seal victory.
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West Ham were rightfully aggrieved when Vladimir Coufal was strangely ruled to have fouled Lacazette after taking the ball from the Frenchman in the penalty box, the right-back then receiving a second yellow card, though Fabianski kept out Lacazette’s effort from the penalty spot.
But in truth David Moyes’ side struggled to mount a serious challenge, and waning impressive early-season form for sole senior centre-forward Michail Antonio, and more generally, and an ever-growing defensive injury list are beginning to present concerns to the West Ham manager, who has now seen his side drop below their hosts and out of the Champions League places.
Arsenal dominated great swathes of an entertaining first half but were unable to find an opener. The home side began with intensity, and were surprised when Coulal received only a yellow for a raised arm, and were again raising questioning arms when Bukayo Saka’s swinging leg made contact with a tackling Arthur Masuaku, though no point to the spot was forthcoming.
There were even stronger penalty protests less than five minutes later after a lunging Dawson collided with Alexandre Lacazette, but again Anthony Taylor waved the appealing Arsenal players away.
West Ham had two moments of attacking spark on the half-hour mark, Pablo Fornals bending one just wide and an arriving Masuaku firing over the angle of the goal, but they were to be brief as the hosts again took control.
Delightfully intricate patterns down the right knitted Granit Xhaka into space centrally, with only a diving Dawson able to block away.
The ball then bounced favourably for Kieran Tierney, who drove spectacularly for the top corner, Fabianski’s fingertips combining with the crossbar to keep it out.
The goalkeeper continued to frustrate his former club when he palmed away a Lacazette curler from 20 yards, with the defiant Dawson getting just enough of a touch on the loose ball to deny Gabriel Martinelli a tap-in.
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Yet Fabianski was powerless to deny the Brazilian after the players re-emerged, Martinelli slid through by a nice pass from Lacazette and bending it beyond the reach of the Pole’s left-hand.
Arsenal had the chance to double their lead when Taylor did point to the spot, curiously ruling that Coufal’s follow-through after what appeared a picture-perfect sliding tackle had collided dangerously with Arsenal legs.
The referee then further drew the ire of the West Ham players, not least the Czech right-back, when producing a second yellow card and sending a perplexed Coufal from the pitch.
Justice was, perhaps, done, though, when Fabianski guessed left, which proved right and enabled him to beat away Lacazette’s spot kick – the first time the Frenchman has missed from 12 yards in an Arsenal shirt.
A deflected Saka effort scurried wide of the upright but there were no such issues for Smith Rowe, who dragged deftly between the legs of Issa Diop into the corner to finish a lovely counter-attack and seal the three points.
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