The matchday started poorly for Arsenal. Hector Bellerin picked up an injury in warmups and had to be replaced in the starting lineup. Kieran Tierney had to come off after 29 minutes because of an elbow / shoulder injury. West Ham went ahead 1-0 in the 38th minute. The new-look attacking trio of Gabriel Martinelli, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Nicolas Pépé didn’t create much at all in the first half. It was shaping up to be another long day at the office for the Gunners.
And then, ten minutes of magic.
Lucas Torreira to Sead Kolasinac to Gabriel Martinelli. 1-1. Nicolas Pépé. 2-1. Nicolas Pépé to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. 3-1.
Arsenal may have turned their season around in ten minutes. You could see a change come across the side when Martinelli fired home. Passes were quicker. Players had more jump. We try not to belabor intangibles because there is no real way to measure them, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Confidence matters, especially in football, and seeing the ball hit the back of the opposition net seemed to be a much-needed injection of that Vitamin C(onfidence) for the Gunners.
The first goal was a classy finish from Martinelli, the type you want to see your strikers score. On the run, first-touch, bottom corner. Cool as you like. The third came from a nice combination between Aubameyang and Pépé. And the second, oh it was a thing of beauty, a goal to make Arjen Robben jealous. Pépé cut in from the right, found a yard of space, and curled it into the top corner.
It was a much-needed win for the Gunners for a number of reasons. By now, we know what those reasons are. Arsenal started the day four points above the drop-zone. They’re now two points off fifth. The mid-table is incredibly congested, and I still don’t know exactly who this Arsenal team is, but it’s much nicer seeing the club in the top half than the bottom.
Do Arsenal still have issues that need to be sorted? Absolutely. Do I care about them right now? Not in the slightest. I’m going to sit back, have a drink, and enjoy the fact that Arsenal won a match for the first time since October 22nd.