Hammers Fly High At The Emirates

The 2-0 home victory over Manchester United on Saturday lifted West Ham United onto thirty points. Another three points means they now have the most they have ever achieved at the halfway point of a season. The 2-0 triumph over Arsenal at The Emirates Stadium also gives David Moyes his first win at the home of the Gunners.

Kurt Zouma picked up a knee injury in training on Wednesday and failed a late fitness check, meaning he was replaced in defence by Angelo Ogbonna, who took the Captain’s armband in the Frenchman’s absence. That was the only change made to the team that faced the Red Devils five days earlier. Youngster Divin Mubama was once again included in the matchday squad.

Opposition fans know what they are going to get from Mikel Arteta’s men and in the early stages they looked in the mood to get revenge on the Hammers for the Carabao Cup defeat last month but thankfully, the visitors weathered the early storm and went ahead inside thirthen minutes.

Lucas Paquetá gave possession to Emerson Palmieri and the defender was able to ease past both Gabriel and Oleksandr Zinchenko and cross into the box. Jarrod Bowen then pulled the ball back and Tomáš Souček was on hand to turn the ball past Brentford loanee David Raya in the home side’s goal. A lengthy VAR check took place to see if the ball had gone out of play before Bowen got his foot to it but there was no conclusive evidence to suggest it did and referee Michael Oliver’s original decision stood.

There was an announcement shortly before kick-off that Paquetá had sustained an injury in the warm-up and might not have been able to start the match. Thankfully though, it was decided that he would see how he progressed. However, just after the half-hour mark the Brazilian midfielder had to be taken off and was replaced by Saïd Benrahma.

Arsenal went close to an equaliser but were thwarted by visiting goalkeeper Alphonse Areola as he made a top-quality save to keep out Bukayo Saka.

Ben White scored an own goal when these two teams met in Stratford last month and he could have scored at the right end here but his header from a short corner also missed the target.

Saka wasn’t giving up and nearly found the net minutes later but fortunately for the travelling contingent, his effort hit the base of the post.

The Irons still had the advantage in as Oliver blew his whistle for half-time and although they were ahead, could they hold on for another forty five minutes?

It was thought that Arteta would get his side going during the break and again, in the opening stages of the second-half, whatever he said to them seemed to be working but just ten minutes into the second-half, West Ham scored a second when a familiar James Ward-Prowse corner routine meant that with the aid of the crossbar, Konstantinos Mavropanos headed past Raya to claim his first ever Premier League goal.

Arsenal continued to create chances but they couldn’t find a way past Areola. This was further emphasised when Martin Ødegaard sent in a tantalising cross but fortunately, Gabriel Jesus headed over.

As the Hammers were edging closer to victory, they saw their goalkeeper make another save from Leandro Trossard with his legs, while he also managed to keep out both Saka and Ødegaard.

Just as in the first-half, five minutes of stoppage time were added at the end of the ninety and with virtually the last kick of the game, it was Declan Rice of all people who brought down Palmieri and the visitors have the chance to wrap up the points from the spot. Benrahma stepped up to take it but unfortunately, he didn’t put enough power on it, meaning Raya was able to save easily.

It didn’t matter, as the final whistle blew and they could celebrate ending 2023 on a high. The question now is, will they be able to maintain this form going into 2024? The answer will be revealed on Tuesday night when Brighton and Hove Albion are the visitors to East London.