West Ham United 1 Arsenal 0
D.Rice 48

Arsenal succumbed to their first loss to West Ham in 13 years when Declan Rice pounced to slot home from Samir Nasri’s assist at the London stadium. The Gunners started with some imaginative play and mounted several attacks on Lukasz Fabianski’s goal, with one shot from Alexandre Lacazette worthy of the game’s opener. Matteo Guendouzi too saw an effort lift just over Fabianski’s goal from 25 yards, but the visitors were unable to get their rewards. Mesut Ozil was once again missing. Having declared that training had gone well on social media, the German was not amongst the 18 man squad. How Arsenal could have done with his creativity when ideas and vision began to run down. West Ham took the lead three minutes after the re-start, when 19 year old Rice placed home from Nasri following Granit Xhaka’s weak header to clear from a corner. Buoyed by an expectant crowd and Felipe Anderson’s drive, West Ham easily went through the Gunners midfield. Unai Emery brought on Aaron Ramsey and Lucas Torreira for Xhaka and Shkodran Mustafi on the hour mark. Arsenal solidified marginally, but found their hosts and Rice in particular were having the game of their lives with some intelligent defensive cover. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had great chance to get his 15th Premier League goal of the season, but skied his effort when under pressure from a last ditch defensive tackle.

Alex Iwobi fizzed all game, and he is a player who Emery believes in. His last gasp effort deserved better. His low shot beat Fabianski but fell just the wrong side of his upright for the Gunners. Arsenal have now won only two for their last five games, and it is hard the imagine how a 22 game unbeaten run has floundered with that first Premier League loss at Southampton since their two opening losses to Manchester City and Chelsea. Arsenal next fo up against their west London rivals at the Emirates stadium next Saturday in yet another crucial test for Emery and his side.

“I think the result is a bad one. We lost a great opportunity to take three points and get closer to Chelsea and the other top-four teams. But we lost. We wanted to do a better match but we couldn’t control the match like we wanted to. Looking at the chances in the 90 minutes for them and us, I think maybe the result is not what we deserved. In the gameplan, in the control, we need to improve our ideas. We could not do that,” said Emery

The Spaniard pinpointed the conceding of possession in key areas which led to his side conceding, and stressed the need to remedy that situation and quickly.

“We didn’t concede a lot of chances but we conceded metres on the pitch and these metres gave them a lot of corners. From one corner, they scored, and then the match changed. We needed to attack more and better but today, defensively we needed to work well. We created chances but it wasn’t enough to win. Maybe in the first 20 minutes when we created some chances, that was the moment where we thought we could win the match, but then after it was difficult because we didn’t impose all the things we wanted.”

Post match talk of Ozil’s absence was met with a straight bat by Emery. Evidently there appear to be issues between him and the German.

“We decided that the players here were the best for this match. We’ve won with him, we’ve lost with him. No one player makes the difference between winning and losing the game.

“Today the players who were here are the players who deserved to be in this match. We could have won or lost, like we can with him. We continue working with every player because they are all important, but today the decision was to come with these players.”

With Ramsey seemingly on his way, the Ozil situation would be well served with an amicable agreement for all concerned. Then perhaps we can start to re-focus on onfield matters from now until the end of the season.