West Ham United remain in the Premier League’s relegation zone after losing 2-1 to Arsenal at The Emirates Stadium in their first away game of the season in Saturday’s late kick-off.
Captain Mark Noble was still suffering the effects of a toe injury picked up in training during the week meaning Declan Rice was named skipper and Arthur Masuaku filled in for Noble as David Moyes switched to a back-five.
The Hammers won their first match of the season in midweek as they progressed through to the third round of the Carabao Cup after a 3-0 home win against Sky Bet League One side Charlton Athletic on Tuesday night and they were keen to build on that success.
They started well here and could have gone ahead within the first five minutes but unfortunately, Angelo Ogbonna’s header was easily gathered by Gunners’ goalkeeper Bernd Leno.
David Moyes’ side kept the pressure on as the skipper saw his free-kick deflected wide, before Leno saved Michail Antonio’s cross-shot.
The Irons then wanted a penalty after Jarrod Bowen went down under pressure from new Arsenal recruit Gabriel but no spot-kick was awarded.
West Ham were the better side in the opening stages but having failed to take their chances, Mikel Arteta’s team opened the scoring when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sprung the offside trap and spotted Alexandre Lacazette ahead of him. The Gunners’ skipper then crossed for the Frenchman who headed past Łukasz Fabiański.
It was then a case of déjà vu for the visitors who felt hard done by last season after Lacazette scored against them when there was a suspicion of offside but VAR intervened and allowed the goal to stand. It did the same here so consequently, West Ham found themselves a goal behind.
After the game had got back underway, the hosts then had purpose to their play. This wasn’t to last too long though, as the momentum swung back in favour of the Hammers when Arsenal missed a golden chance to extend their advantage. Fortunately for the East London faithful, again watching at home as the action is currently still being played behind closed doors, Bukayo Saka sent a curling shot over the top.
That spurred West Ham on and they were again looking to referee Michael Oliver to award them a penalty. Gabriel was involved again, this time he seemed to get an arm to Tomáš Souček’s header but yet again, nothing was given.
West Ham deserved a goal in this match and just before added time at the end of the first-half, they finally got it. It was a great team move involving Pablo Fornals, Masuaku, Souček and Bowen, ending with Ryan Fredericks crossing for Antonio to beat Leno.
The half-time team talk from Moyes would have changed after the former Nottingham Forest winger equalised and whatever he said during the interval must have provided his team with extra energy, as they looked even better once the action had recommenced.
With chance after chance being fashioned, you had to wonder how the visitors didn’t go further in front despite Masuaku and Antonio going close.
As West Ham continued to come forward, it was only Arsenal defensive blocks that prevented them from turning the game around.
West Ham had numerous chances to take the lead in this game but probably the best was when Antonio hit the crossbar, following a great cross from Masuaku. Then there could have been a stroke of luck when Leno dropped the ball but unfortunately Antonio was unable to benefit as the shot was blocked again. Finally, the hosts could breathe a sigh of relief when Leno prevented Bowen from getting a good connection to the ball.
Arteta’s side were now frustrating their visitors, as their determination not to let their opponents find a way through was evident. Bowen was again denied twice before Souček attempted an ambitious effort but unfortunately it went wide.
With his side looking as though they were going to secure a point, Moyes made his first change bringing on Andriy Yarmolenko to replace Bowen.
It wasn’t the best of entrances for the Ukrainian who cost his team that point when he allowed Real Madrid loanee Dani Ceballos to get away from him and set up Eddie Nketiah to ensure that one point would quickly turn back to no points.
Moyes made a double change in the closing stages, as Sébastien Haller and Felipe Anderson were brought on to take the places of Fornals and Masuaku.
The final whistle blew, meaning that the East Londoners have now lost their first two top-flight matches this season and it isn’t about to get any easier for them either, as they have a home game against Wolverhampton Wanderers to come next Sunday.
Before then they will try and set up a Carabao Cup fourth-round tie with either Sky Bet League One outfit Fleetwood Town or fellow Premier League side Everton by beating Hull City in Stratford on Tuesday night.