David Hautzig's Match Report
As the telecast of the match began today here on NBC, Rebecca Lowe said that Manuel Pellegrini is not used to losing matches in the English Premier League. Well, we are. And without meaning to sound gloom and doom, the new gaffer had better get used to the notion of losing from time to time. Or more. While I thought we would figure out a way to beat Bournemouth last week, as I tried to catch pieces of it on my phone at the student center of my daughters college, I wasn’t shocked. We have only beaten the Cherries at home once since they were promoted, and that was on a late goal created by….wait for it….Gokhan Tore. Yeah.
Today was more about performance to me. How the truckload of new players continue to bed themselves in. Especially with yet another altered starting eleven. If we somehow managed a result, great. If we didn’t, we simply will have to hunker down as a collective team and keep the faith in the manager and the squad.
In the 6th minute, West Ham showed what they plan to do when Masuaku launched a counter down the left. Arsenal were on their heels, and Antonio pushed the ball into the box. He rolled a pass to Snodgrass at the top of the area, and that’s when it all broke down and Arsenal cleared. Not a judgment on the Scot. Just an observation.
The Gunners almost took the lead in the eleventh minute in one of those ping pong moments that so often happen to West Ham. Diop cleared the ball, but it bounced off a red shirt and into the Hammers eighteen yard box. Balbuena slid into the ball to clear, but again it found red in Mkhitaryan. He sent a hard shot that Fabianski did very well to stop. The rebound went to Ramsey, but his header into the back of the net was ruled offside.
The Hammers had a decent spell on the ball after that. Arnautovic had a look at goal but sent his shot into the side netting. Moments later West Ham won a free kick 25 yards from goal when Mustafi fouled Antonio. Snodgrass curled the ball into the box, but the Gunners back-line held and cleared. A few minutes later Wilshire led a counter and had options on both sides. He chose neither and was displaced of the ball as punishment for his indecisiveness. Then, Snodgrass tried another curler that floated over the Arsenal defense and right at Arnautovic. But even Arnautovic looked shocked that the ball reached him and he couldn’t position himself to get a shot off and the ball bounced harmlessly into the arms of Cech. While nothing came of any of these half chances, the Hammers looked a little better than they had the first two games.
West Ham’s good play finally paid a dividend in the 26th minute when Anderson led a break from inside the West Ham half. As he approached the top of the eighteen yard box he spotted Arnautovic at the top of the area. They exchanged little touch passes with a bit of movement, and all of that resulted in Arnautovic having a clean shot on goal. And he buried it.
West Ham 1
The lead didn’t last long, however. Bellerin got behind the West Ham defense and was able to send a short cross into the box. Fabianski got a hand to the shot, but the rebound went to a completely unmarked Monreal and he calmly slotted it into the back of the net.
West Ham 1
I appreciate Antonio. I really do. But when he broke on a counter with Arnautovic ahead of him he reaaaaalllly should have passed. Instead he sent a low, fairly harmless shot that Cech had no problem gathering up. Moments later Anderson had a chance inside the box but his chip shot attempt was cleared.
Arsenal came about three inches from taking the lead in the 40th minute when Aubameyang unleashed a shot from near the top of the West Ham eighteen yard box that just missed the top of the net. A minute later he was fouled by Diop, who saw yellow, and Arsenal had a set piece from 20 yards out. I shielded my eyes. Thankfully the wall did its job.
The visitors had a great chance in first half injury time to reclaim the lead. Masuaku sent a long ball to Arnautovic that stayed onside. But West Ham couldn’t get a shot off. Seconds later Antonio won the ball near the top of the area and rolled a pass seemingly to Arnautovic. But the Austrian let the ball go past him and into the path of Snodgrass. With only Cech to beat, the often maligned midfielder shot right into the keepers chest.
West Ham 1
West Ham started the second half brightly with Fredericks moving up and sending a cross into the Arsenal box. Snodgrass was able to put a header on goal but it had nothing on it. Moments later Arsenal had a header from Mustafi and that one had enough on it to force Fabianski Into a very good save.
In the 50th minute Bellerin again fouled Antonio, giving the Hammers a free kick. The ball was sent over the Arsenal defense and found Arnautovic on the right, but he tried to one time the ball and sent it sailing high over the bar. Patience would have been a virtue at that moment. He had a lot more time than he realized. Minutes later Arsenal showed very good ball movement when Xhaka, Aubameyang and Lacazette combined with the latter firing a shot directly at Fabianski.
The end to end action kept going, this time with Anderson down the left. He cut towards the box and sent the ball to Arnautovic in the box. The finish was poor, otherwise West Ham would have retaken the lead. To add injury to insult, Arnautovic went down clutching his knee and was replaced by Chicharito moments later. Oddly, the armband was handed to Sanchez. I cannot wait to hear that someone made millions on that particular bet at William Hill.
Arsenal will likely feel they should have taken the lead in the 57th minute when Lacazette turned Diop around in the box and fired a low shot that Fabianski saved low to his right. The rebound floated to Monreal but he misfired and the ball was cleared.
West Ham won their first corner of the second half in the 68th minute after Masuaku and Perez combined with passing and a run behind the Arsenal defense. Arsenal handled the set piece, but Anderson tested Cech seconds later after a cutting run.
Overall, I think Diop had a decent debut. Maybe I’m being too forgiving due to youth. But in the 70th minute everything that could have gone wrong for the young man did go wrong. His decision to not let the ball roll out for a corner and instead send a high, useless clearing attempt that was easily fed back into the box was awe inspiringly naive. Lacazette sent the ball across the face of goal, and it bounced off Diop and behind Fabianski. You couldn’t make it up.
West Ham 1
The Gunners had all of the action from that moment on, and in the 83rd minute they won a corner. Yarmolenko cleared the delivery, but Ramsey got on the end of it and sent a low shot that was destined for the corner of the net if not for a late dive from Fabianski.
A minute later, Anderson launched a fine counter attack with Anderson at the front. He rolled a good pass to Perez on the left. With Hernandez running down the middle and Yarmolenko on the right, Perez sent the ball to neither of them nor at the net.
Welcome home, Lucas.
West Ham had one final chance to salvage something, and If Yarmolenko had moved for the cross from Anderson it could have hit his eyelids and gone in. But he didn’t and the Anderson pass rolled to nobody and nowhere.
Oh. Then Welbeck scored. Only Balbuena continued to play his given roll of defender. Otherwise everyone else in blue turned spectator.
West Ham 1
Losing three games to start the season, again, stinks. But as negative as I usually am, I think there were signs today of what we will be able to eventually do. The movement was better, Anderson had better runs and looked a bit more in tune with the pace of the EPL, and despite the mistake I would stick with Diop and Balbuena. Heck, even Sanchez was ok. Nor should we forget that the winner was a fluke set up by a defensive error by a 21 year old. And with Liverpool and Arsenal away, it was always a possibility if we stumbled at home to Bournemouth. And we always have a tough time at home to Bournemouth.
I’ll be over next week for Wolves, and I think we will win. Possibly with ease.