Despite a lopsided score line West Ham pushed hard and deserved better in this match. Well, Joe Hart and Arnautovic deserved better.
In a match that ended a handful to nil in Arsenal’s favor the score doesn’t tell the true story of this match. Nil-nil at half, and level after conceding first int he second half, West Ham showed resilience and hard work for 80 minutes of this game. But as well all know, a match is 90 minutes so that simply wont do, and predictably so, it didn’t do.
So what went wrong for the Hammers?
Defense making mistakes. Every goal can be credited to defenders missing balls, men, or getting caught out of position from over playing.
Arthur Masuaku contributed to Arsenal taking the lead in this match. Tasked with holding the near post on a corner, Masuaku inexplicably stepped away from a nice (but blockable) volley from Nacho Monreal. I would love to see what was going on in his head when the shot came in, because there is no real conceivable reason to not block a goal bound shot on the goal line. Unfortunately, this is the deal with Masuaku – you get speed and trickery going forward and have to deal with some boneheadery on the back end.
Declan Rice, unfortunately broke the back of his team – and judging by his face, he knew it. If he didn’t Joe Hart let him know it shouting at the back of his sunken head as he lined up for kick off. After missing a simple clearance the ball simply bounced into the net, and giving the Gunners the lead and taking the Hammers out of the match.
The goal was really an anomaly. Rice has been one of the few players who has actually grown and been an attribute to the team in this frustrating season. Hart wasn’t counting on his young, but good defender to miff a clearance, but it happens. You can bet he won’t make that mistake again ever in his career.
For West Ham, Joe Hart had a great game. He made a few saves notably on Granit Xhaka and Danny Welbeck that were top notch. He wanted to win, and he is playing for not only his international life at this time, but his top tier life, too. I don’t mind the appointment of Hart at this point in the season. Adrian hasn’t done enough to take his spot and seems like he’d rather be back in Spain, and Hart has something on the line. Disappointed for him after this one.
A possible bright point from this match is the probable use of Arnautovic, Chicharito, and Lanzini moving forward. After Joao Mario and Edmilison Fernandes made way for Chicharito and Lanzini West Ham scored four minutes later. They pressured the ball when Arsenal had it, swarmed on free balls, and kept moving toward Ospina’s net.
Chicharito needs to be on the pitch simply for his presence, if not near automatic scoring ability. He has a reputation – fox in the box, but opposing defenders know that they cannot ignore him or he’ll net a goal.
Lanzini, who assisted Arnautovic’s rifled goal, is really the key to West Ham’s success this season. With a 5-4-1 formation there needs to be that link between attack and defense in the middle of the park. Mario did this well against Southampton but hasn’t consistently performed whereas Lanzini can do it at will against the lower half clubs and also impacts against the big boys. The issue is his work rate – will he show up or disappear with adversity?
This is a game West Ham were not supposed to win. When it comes down to it, West Ham suffered a ten minute meltdown against a team that is very good at attacking. West Ham made mistakes, they took those opportunities and didn’t miss. A point would have been massive, but it isn’t the end of the road for West Ham. Take it as motivation, train hard, get back to work, make sure it doesn’t happen again.