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Match report: Arsenal 0, West Ham 1

Well, that was rather dire.

West Ham United v Arsenal FC - Premier League Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Arsenal lost to West Ham 1-0 in a thoroughly disappointing game.

The match started slowly—for a few minutes, the most interesting thing was the cloud of bubbles floating over Unai Emery’s technical box at kickoff. Neither club troubled the other’s goal much—Bernd Leno made a save, but it was a slow-rolling shot directly at him; it might have been more difficult for him to miss the ball than to stop it.

The first corner of the game went to West Ham, but came to nothing, with the cross sailing long and the follow-up shot arcing harmlessly left of the goal. In the opening fifteen minutes, Alexandre Lacazette had the best chance, but West Ham keeper Lukasz Fabianski was able to deflect the shot. Leno was tested shortly afterward, making a diving catch to stop West Ham’s attack.

Arsenal looked most likely to open the scoring approaching the half-hour mark, but they were almost undone by a bit of sluggish defending. Luckily for them, former Gunner Samir Nasri pulled his shot wide. Felipe Anderson missed a similar shot soon afterward—West Ham could not buy a shot on target.

On the other end of the pitch, Matteo Guendouzi hit a thirty-yard rocket shot, also just wide. The game stopped for a couple minutes as the Arsenal trainers looked at Guendouzi’s shoulder, but he finished the half without any trouble. The forty-five minutes ended with a retaken corner on Arsenal’s end and yet another shot off target from West Ham, this one a header that Declan Rice tried to steer too much.

Arsenal started the second half on the back foot, and within three minutes, West Ham grabbed the first goal. Rice collected a short pass from Nasri and fixed his first-half mistake, hitting the ball into the top right corner and leaving Leno with no hope of getting a hand to it.

The goal seemed to snap the Gunners out of their stupor, but West Ham was still able to pick their way through the Arsenal defense, and Emery made his first changes fifteen minutes into the half, bringing on Aaron Ramsey for Shkodran Mustafi which prompted a formation change, and Lucas Torreira for some stability in the back (in place of Granit Xhaka, oddly, although I suppose he needs a break every once in a while).

At that point it became apparent that Arsenal had caught West Ham’s off target from the first half—Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missed two chances in as many minutes, and Alex Iwobi sent one just a few inches wide of the goal, both set up by Ramsey.

With twenty minutes to go, Emery used his last substitution, bringing on Hector Bellerin in place of Ainsley Maitland-Niles and hoping for the same sort of improvement that Ramsey had brought to the side. But the minutes ticked by and Arsenal could make nothing of their chances. Laurent Koscielny’s disallowed goal, because of an offside Sead Kolasinac, was salt in the wound. West Ham’s first half goal proved to be the winner, and those pre-kickoff bubbles proved to be the most fun thing about this match.

Arsenal’s next match is on January 19, a week from now, against Chelsea in the Premier League. The January transfer window is open, so there’s a chance (slim but I guess non-zero) that they’ll be sporting some loaned reinforcements by then.