West Ham United lost their second London derby in the space of a week after being defeated 2-1 by Arsenal in Stratford on Sunday afternoon.
David Moyes made five changes to the team that played the first-leg of their UEFA Europa League semi-final against FFV Eintract Frankfurt just three days earlier, as Łukasz Fabiański replaced Alphonse Areola in goal, while Vladimír Coufal came in for the suspended Craig Dawson. Tomáš Souček was also amongst the substitutes, giving Saïd Benrahma another start, while Mark Noble also came in to make his 500th start for the club. Ryan Fredericks was another player named in the starting line-up.
Moyes hinted earlier in the week that Issa Diop’s injury wasn’t as bad as first feared and he was another name on the bench, along with Michail Antonio and youngster Ajibola Alese.
The game got underway and it was tight in the opening stages with neither team wanted to give anything away in order to qualify for European competition next season although West Ham couldn’t quite fashion a clear chance on goal, it took Arsenal a while to click into the gear that they have been showing in recent games.
Even when Mikel Arteta’s side did up the pace, a combination of both Kurt Zouma and Aaron Cresswell were on hand to prevent them from creating anything.
Zouma himself set up an opportunity when he played in Saïd Benrahma. The Algerian then played the former Chelsea man back in who marauded forward into the area, but his shot towards goal was blocked by defender Rob Holding.
West Ham were still on the attack and Pablo Fornals looked like he was going to open the scoring but he made a hash of the chance and sent it high over the bar.
The home team kept trying their luck and a cross from Coufal set up Benrahma, but again Holding was in the way.
The Hammers created their clearest chance when Declan Rice tried his luck but the only trouble was it was easy for visiting goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale to claim.
Arteta’s side then went in front just seven minutes before the interval when an uncharacteristic mistake from Jarrod Bowen presented Eddie Nketiah with an opportunity, which brought a save out of Fabianski who diverted the ball behind for a corner.
Bukayo Saka sent the set-piece over for Holding to claim his first ever Premier League goal when he headed past the Pole and into the net.
It didn’t take long for the Irons to respond. They won a corner and Rice tried to win another battle with Ramsdale as he headed the ball on but the former AFC Bournemouth and Sheffield United stopper won out again as he made an outstanding save.
Then, they kept up their record of scoring in every home game this season as Bowen atoned for his mistake and was on the end of a great team move from the home side to beat Ramsdale with the help of a deflection from Gabriel.
Referee Mike Dean blew the whistle for the break and it was still anyone’s game with both sides desperate for a result.
Holding was getting in the way of everything that the home side were throwing at them and he was at it again, as Benrahma was searching for another breakthrough.
Bowen then raced onto a through ball and while Ramsdale came out to meet him, the majority inside the stadium would say that he had halted his run. The former Hull City winger was upended outside the area and Dean decided to do nothing and amazingly gave Bowen a yellow card.
The misery for the home fans was compounded when Arsenal scored what turned out to be the winner when they appeared to replicate the move that gave them the opening goal when a corner was sent in by Saka. It fell to Gabriel Martinelli who crossed for Gabriel to head past Fabianski.
Nketiah could have added a third but the home side were thankful to their goalkeeper for keeping him out on two separate occasions.
Moyes introduced Michail Antonio into the action on seventy as the frontman took the place of Manuel Lanzini, while Arsenal took off Takehiro Tomiyasu for Cédric Soares.
When West Ham broke forward in search of an equaliser, the latest effort was created by Fornals but it was blocked again and just seconds later, the Hammers were lucky to survive when Nketiah hit the post.
Another substitution was made by the West Ham boss seven minutes later as Souček replaced Noble.
Andriy Yarmolenko was the third and final change to be made by the Hammers’ boss, when the Ukrainian took the place of Benrahma.
West Ham’s end to April wasn’t a good one and their current form continued into May as Dean blew the final whistle and they will have to pick themselves up and go again on Thursday when they face a vital trip to Germany.