West Ham United 1 Arsenal 3
Ogbonna 38, Martinelli 60, Pepe 66, Aubameyang 69 Arsenal recovered from going a goal down through Angello Ogbonna’s deflected header to West Ham to then blitz the Hammers with three second half strikes in the space of nine minutes. Gabriel Martinelli side footed the leveller past David Martin after some good build up work from Sead Kolasinac. Six minutes after that, Nicolas Pepe demonstrated why he is such a talent, when he curled a superb effort past Martin from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s pass. Three minutes after taking the lead, Pepe then returned the favour by setting up Aubameyang for a powerful volley for Arsenal’s third. The onslaught seemed to knock the Hammers out of their stride, as the game took on a markedly different reflection from the first half. Arsenal were a shadow of themselves, and their play suggested a team low on confidence and morale. Having taken the lead West Ham created more but at half time, the score remained 1-0.

The opening exchanges of the second half suggested another Arsenal poor show. The evening had gotten off to a horrendous start, even before conceding the opener, when Arsenal were forced to remove Hector Bellerin from the starting line up after he picked up an injury in the warm up. Ainsley Maitland-Niles came in for Bellerin. Matters deteriorated further on the half hour mark when Kieran Tierney appeared to suffer a shoulder injury while defending against Michael Antonio. He wa replaced by Kolasinac who wasn’t even in the original squad.

But we did get to see why Pepe came for such a hefty transfer fee. With the first half going by for both sides, he tried to make inroads, only to come up against some rather robust challnges from Aaron Creswell. If Pepe needed to further be aware of the nature of the Premier League, then he was seeing that at first hand at the London stadium. Ljungberg had opted to keep Alexandre Lacazette and David Luiz on the substitute’s bench and that call seemed to  work – eventually.

Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira tried to shield their vulnerable back line, but there were still gaping voids for the claret and blue shirt to exploit. Bernd Leno has made the most saves in the Premier League, an amiable statistic, but he’d sooner prefer a quiet night and a clean sheet. Ogbonna’s deflected header off Maitland-Niles ensured that would never happen, and having gone a goal behind, the Gunners seemed out of ideas and out of sorts.

Boos from the travelling supporters rang in the players ears as they left the pitch, with no real improvement evident in the early exchanges of the second half either. Martin had only seen Mesut Ozil’s header fly tamely over the bar in a timid Gunners first half, however come the hour mark, that all changed.

Martinelli has been hailed for a genuine talent for the future. Having notched goals in the Carabao and Europa League, the 18 year old Brazilian raced onto Kolasinac’s cross tossed foot the leveller. Pepe’s superb curled effort was too good for Martin, and the Arsenal smiles came back with the relief of being in front for the first time under Ljungberg. Clearly they liked that feeling as a hitherto quiet Aubameyang latched onto Pepe’s cross from ten yards out to volley past Martin on 69 minutes.

It was all reminiscent of  what used to be good ol Arsenal. We might still be a long way from that, but a first win for Ljungberg, ahead of a Europa League final group game at Standard Liege before hosting Manchester City will ensure that  the hard work has to be maintained. For the first time since October’s 1-0 win over Bournemouth, Arsenal were able to taste victory.

It is vital that they want to come back for more.