Well, it finally happened.
Unai Emery and the Arsenal squad earn their first 3 points with a 3-1 victory over West Ham. Goals from Nacho Monreal, Danny Welbeck, and Issa Diop (OG) helped Arsenal start their bounce back into the winning ways on Saturday.
Prior to the game both teams entered the London derby needing a first win. Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil was scratched with “illness”, allowing Aaron Ramsey his chance to get back in the starting XI. There were no other changes from last week’s team against Chelsea other than Ramsey. Still no showing of Lucas Torreira in the starting XI, as 19 year old Matteo Guendouzi and Granit Xhaka are still in the team sheet.
There are reports that Ozil possibly had a training ground argument with Emery, but we will say those are just rumors... For now. Take a look at Ozil’s illness record in North London.
Mesut Ozil at Arsenal— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) August 25, 2018
23rd Aug 18: ill
20th Apr 18: ill
18th Feb 18: ill
25th Nov 17: ill
1st Mar 17: ill
29th Dec 16: ill
20th Mar 15: ill
13th Sept 13: ill
Arsene Wenger: “Ozil’s immune system has a bit of trouble.” pic.twitter.com/HWNS8HKPNv
The first half started off pretty bland until Marko Arnautovic started the goal scoring.
New signing from Lazio Felipe Anderson showed why he was worth his price tag. Anderson takes the ball in his own half, combined with Arnautovic twice, and the Austrian punishes Arsenal for his second league goal. This goal was West Ham’s first goal from open play this season. The defending was horrific, but you cannot overlook the skill displayed by Anderson to create the chance.
At this point, I was in a bad place mentally. Luckily, Arsenal did not have the same feeling down a goal at home.
A short 5 minutes after conceding, star “striker” Nacho Monreal started his race for the Golden Boot. It started well with Mkhitaryan in the wing with the ball. Hector Bellerin, who played well [offensively] today found a nice bit of space behind the West Ham back line. Jack Wilshere seemed to be at fault for Bellerin having so much space to cross the ball.
Bellerin played it across the box well to Iwobi who just glanced the ball into Nacho Monreal’s path. The Spaniard could not miss from there.
The two sides went into half at 1-1, but West Ham’s Robert Snodgrass had a superb chance to put the Hammers up 2-1. His shot from about 8 yards went right into the hands of Cech, who did not have to move an inch to prevent Snodgrass from taking West Ham ahead again.
After Emery commented earlier this week that Alexandre Lacazette would not feature with Aubameyang, the Frenchman was subbed in for Alex Iwobi at the start of the half. This was the chance the two of them had to show Emery that they can both fit in the Arsenal XI by snatching all 3 points.
Arsenal definitely got better as the second half went on, especially around the hour mark. On the 70th minute, Arsenal’s hard work paid off. A cross that started from Mkhitayran was led to the feet of West Ham debutant Issa Diop. Diop cleared the ball poorly to say the least, which only traveled to the top of the box. Two contested headers later from Nacho and Ramsey saw the ball drop perfectly for Lacazette at the 6 yard area. Just trying to make something happen, Laca fires the ball into the hip of Diop, who send the ball into the back of his own net. A 10 second nightmare for the 21 year old, who will want to put his first appearance behind him.
An own goal from Diop makes it 2-1 Arsenal pic.twitter.com/eEu8CHpytW— Terje (@TerjeGIFs) August 25, 2018
West Ham pushed a few times at the end of the game, including rolling a ball across the Arsenal goal mouth in the 90 + 1. However, they never could complete the comeback to steal a point late at the Emirates.
Late on in the game Wilshere made a careless giveaway to Ramsey. A few passes later between Torreira and Mkhitaryan end with Bellerin receiving the ball in the wing. For the second time in the match, Hector puts in a cross that leads to a goal. This time, Danny Welbeck is relatively uncontested, and tees off the ball from 8 yards to seal the result. Arsenal 3, West Ham 1.
Welbeck seals the win for Arsenal against West Ham. 3-1 pic.twitter.com/WYKOpjqCTr— Terje (@TerjeGIFs) August 25, 2018
Arsenal get their first win under Unai Emery, and as of this very moment, they are now 11th in the table. Arsenal finished the game with 85% passing accuracy and and 61% of the possession, per WhoScored.
A big change we have seen in since the Wenger era ended has been the substitutes coming into the game much earlier. Each game this season, Unai has made a sub at the start of the second half. Additionally, it looks like subs are making appearances much earlier in general. In my opinion, this is a welcome change from last year, when Arsenal would refuse to make substitutions until the 75th minute.
The average time of a substitution of a starting player last season under Arsene Wenger was the 71st minute.— Orbinho (@Orbinho) August 25, 2018
So far under Unai Emery it's the 56th minute
Hector Bellerin had a great day offensively, leading the right side with Mkhi and creating danger for West Ham to deal with. However, on the defensive side of the ball, the two still have some work to do. West Ham continued to pound the ball down Arsenal’s right side, which continued to offer acres of space to run into. Defense has always been this team’s biggest concern, and those two will need to figure it out moving forward into the season.
Granit Xhaka also had another challenge that could have easily been a red card just before half time. The Swiss international is always getting a booking, but at some point you have to wonder what kind of liability he is for a game. Torreira, the best tackling midfielder in Italy last year, may be taking over sooner rather than later. The Xhaka challenge:
All in all it was a good result for Arsenal, but there is much left to be done. Next week at Cardiff they will look to make it 6 points in 2 games.