Arsenal 0 West Ham United 2
( Kouyate 43, Zarate 57 )

All the new excitement and anticipation of a new Premier League season were precisely pierced by an efficient West Ham United at the Emirates stadium in Sunday’s lunchtime kick off. Goals from Cheikhou Kouyate and Mauro Zarate sunk the pre- season Arsenal optimism as a classy Hammers display reminded us of what it was that Arsenal normally did to other teams. Petr Cech will save the Gunners 10-12 points a season and that isn’t an idle statement. Here however, as he shot off his line to punch at a Dimitri Payet free kick, he saw the header of Kouyate flash into his net just before the break. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was caught by Zarate trying to run out of defence and the Argentinian needed only to turn and shoot behind the dive of Cech to double the visitors’ lead.

The scoreline stunned all except the away section inside the Emirates. Arsenal failed to get going and then ooked to have run out of ideas and energy as the visitors sat deep to protect their lead. Alexis Sanchez was named on the substitutes bench and his 20 odd minute cameo role was the Gunners’ best on an afternoon where Laurent Koscielny’s performance was perhaps the only other worthy mention of those in red and white.

With Hector Bellerin injured, Mathieu Debuchy came in at right back with Olivier Giroud given the nod in attack and Theo Walcott named on the substitutes bench. With Cech making his Premier League Gunners’ debut, Arsenal, having won the Community Shield at Wembley last Sunday, looked as best prepared ahead of a new season than they have been in recent seasons. Except that their opening was littered with a succession of misplaced passes and good goal keeping from Adrian.

Koscielny headed over an early chance and Oxlade-Chamberlain rifled over the bar after Giroud’s cross wasn’t cleared. Hammers £8 million summer signing from Juventus Angelo Ogbonna was soon in the thick of the defensive action. Francis Coquelin stole in after a West Ham free kick and as Giroud shaped to shoot, Ogbonna blocked his effort.

Oxlade-Chamberlain then sent over a cross after a typical strong run. Santi Cazorla caught the ball on the volley, but also caught just the roof of the net with Adrian standing tall.

Ramsey was full of running, but still there was no end product as the visitors strangled any Gunners’ offensive forays. When the former Wales captain did get a shot away, a late deflection saw the ball dip late to which Adrian managed to get a glove onto to tip over his bar.

Arsenal began to see perhaps the only real period of penetrative play and with a characteristic neat free flowing move, Ramsey chose to hit from distance when Debuchy was open to his right. It was a rare time when Debuchy advanced forward as Arsenal lacked the type of runs which Bellerin has been producing. Another swift move involving Ramsey, Cazolra, whose clever chest down fed Giroud, but Adrian smothered the ball, but there was an offside flagged in the build up.

Dimitri Payet a near £11 million summer signing from Marseille looked at home on the big North London stage. He struck a shot early which Cech saw deflected over for a corner. His next involvement proved to be more telling. From a free kick, Monreal was the wrong side of Kouyate. The ball was whipped in by Payet and as Cech raced off his line, Kouyate nipped in to head in a shock opener.

In the type of game which Mesut Ozil should be grabbing by the scruff of the neck, the German World Cup winner was among those being humbled by 16 year old Reece Oxford. The Hammers teenager demonstrated immense potential for someone of such tender years. Ozil needs to step up his game and keep it at a level that we know he is capable of reaching when he fancies it. The trick is to establish that he needs to fancy it every game.

Giroud was seeing the ball on both wings, with Ozil in the middle. When the France striker held up the ball and fashioned a cross from the left, Adrian couldn’t hold the cross, but Ozil didn’t anticipate any follow up and the chance went begging. Adrian was in inspired form as the West Ham defence was holding firm.

With Arsene Wenger now going for the offensive option, Oxlade-Chamberlain was being tasked with the right back role and that would come to cost the Gunners when Zarate pounced to double the Gunners’ lead. Wenger turned to Sanchez for the final 20 or so minutes. Given more time off to recover after Chile’s successful Copa America tournament Sanchez shouldn’t have been anywhere near this game. His introduction however infused energy and drive into the Gunners. A strong Sanchez shot was denied by Adrian. Moments earlier, only a late tackle from Koscielny on Sakho saw the deficit remain at just the two goals.

It was not the Premier League start Wenger or the Arsenal faithful had wanted. However with the frailties now identified, at least there is a better chance for the remedies which will be needed if the Arsenal potential is to be realised for the remainder of the season.