Arsenal’s away form suffered further as the Gunners slumped to a 1-0 defeat against West Ham with two strikers failing to deliver.
Arsenal manager Unai Emery experimented with his style of play as he fielded two strikers and a back three which failed to yield any results. Arsenal’s attack was awful and had problems at the back despite the returning of most key players well before this match. Arsenal’s defeat also pointed fingers at the dismal away form the side has inherited from last season.
However, the most important talking point of this defeat is their increasing gap with fourth-placed Chelsea, which is now six points after their late victory over Newcastle United. Arsenal face the Blues next at the Emirates, which now becomes a must-win game if they are to have any hopes of finishing in the top four. On top of that, if United win against Spurs, they would be level on points with Arsenal in fifth.
Back to the West Ham game and a second-half goal from Declan Rice was enough to see the Hammers through a lacklustre Arsenal side. Emery despite fielding two of his prolific players up front failed to see his attack thrive and the defence came under more scrutiny after failing to keep yet another clean sheet.
Here’s how Arsenal’s players rated against West Ham.
Bernd Leno – 6
Leno cannot be blamed for the goal as he was left high and dry for Rice’s strike. Overall, he was steady and kept things tight for the Hammers attack and a reliable defence did help him a lot on the afternoon.
Shkodran Mustafi – 6.5
Mustafi was subbed off early in the second half, which was not to say he didn’t have a good game. On the contrary, it looked like he was back to his composed self as he dominated the air and made some crucial contributions at the back. Emery just did not trust him to be part of the back two.
Sokratis – 7
A fantastic performance really from Sokratis and the entire back three. Yes, they did concede a goal and lost the game, but for a change, the defence cannot be blamed for the loss. Instead, Sokratis was a steady presence at the back and in many ways the leader of Arsenal’s defence.
Laurent Koscielny – 7
It was Koscielny’s best performance since returning from his long lay off. Ensured things are tight at the back and made some essential defensive contributions in the final third. His experience was vital in sniffing out some dangerous balls that might have become a threat to his side.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles – 5
Not his night. Was sloppy for nearly an hour on the pitch and when he did get a grip of the game, he was substituted. His sloppy play ensured he was intercepted and thus failed to provide an outlet from the right side of attack.
Sead Kolasinac – 7
An excellent outing for Kolasinac. Defended pretty well and was vital to some attacking moves. Found a player twice in an offside position, although if the entire attack was good today, he could have got an assist. There was one chance where he could have shot himself but wasted the ball by squaring it.
Matteo Guendouzi – 5.5
Don’t really know what to make of this performance, when at times Guendouzi seemed like at his best then the next moment one wondered why he started this game. Some moments of brilliance was shadowed by his wastefulness with final balls and his efficiency in the final third. Additionally, he somewhat lacked composure when it came to controlling the midfield.
Granit Xhaka – 5.5
His departure looked like a punishment for the sloppiness in conceding the West Ham goal, but overall he was good in the game. Xhaka showed his defensive side in the first half but before he got substituted he looked out of ideas, and it did seem like a tactically sound decision to take him off.
Alex Iwobi – 7.5
If anything was to happen from Arsenal’s attack, Iwobi was their best hope. Indeed asserted himself on the game and had a very positive outing. Was by far Arsenal’s best player and had the other attackers been on form, Iwobi would have genuinely shined.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 5
A half good Aubameyang could have done the job against West Ham; however, he was dismal in every possible way. Had a few half chances which he made a total mess of. Additionally, his second touch was horrible, costing his side some attacking moves.
Alexandre Lacazette – 5.5
Lacazette’s started the game on fire, pressurising the Hammers’ defence, and did look like he could score at some point in the game. However, as the game went on, he lost the composure and grip on it and along with Aubameyang could not make anything out of it.
Aaron Ramsey – 7
The moment he came on the pitch Arsenal looked bright in the attack, and his introduction only added a creative flow to their game. He tried his best to make something, although the overall inefficiency in the attack led to his side’s dismal.
Lucas Torreira – 6
Came on, which did not change anything for the side. The big question, however, was that why didn’t he start from the beginning and why was he replacing Xhaka when Guendouzi was the less performing midfielder.
Hector Bellerin – 6
Brought on to add another dimension in place of the ineffective Maitland-Niles. Tried to make something, but could not help his side in any way possible.