David Hautzig's Match Report
Once again, we spend equal parts watching West Ham play along with other results near the foot of the table. It’s where we have lived for the majority of my time supporting the club, so like many of you I’m used to it. Callum Wilson’s early goal for Bournemouth turned me into a cranky old bastard for the earliest part of my day. And Milner’s clearance off the line after an Adrian brain fart made my knees buckle. I was genuinely fearful Palace would fold against Watford, but a little more hopeful Wolves and Shafting United would do us a favor. In the end, everything went to form today yet we have reason to be disappointed.
West Ham started the match strongly when Bowen intercepted a very poor pass by Xhaka and let loose a low shot that Leno got his fingertips to and pushed it off the post for a corner. Cresswell’s delivery was, well, awful and the Gooners were able to clear.
West Ham should have taken the lead in the 11th minute when Fornals sent Antonio off on a counter. With Haller on his left, he chose to roll a pass to Haller in the box when maybe a shot would have been the better option. Or perhaps an earlier pass. In the end Antonio’s pass was behind Haller and the opportunity was gone. Moments later it was the home side on the front foot. Ogbonna couldn’t quite clear and Ozil had a chance that Diop blocked out for a corner. West Ham was able to deal with the threat through the forehead of Declan Rice, but Arsenal won another corner that again called on Rice to handle.
West Ham had yet another chance in the 18th minute when Bowen won the ball 25 yards from goal, which allowed Noble to roll a pass to Haller inside the box. But his first touch was heavy, which allowed Leno to come out and block Haller’s attempt out for a corner. Three good chances in the first twenty minutes at The Emirates was good. Having nothing to show for it was awful.
The 22nd minute was Arsenal’s turn to rue a missed chance. Pepe passed to Aubameyang inside the West Ham eighteen yard box, and the man from Gabon looped a ball for Sokratis. The man from Greece should have scored, but his header went over the bar and onto the top of the net. The universe returned one of West Ham’s missed chances.
In the 30th minute, Antonio was lucky to win a corner when his run into the box included a very heavy touch that deflected off Mari. That’s when Jordan Ayew scored for Palace against Watford, so there was that bit of good news to offset the rather poor delivery from Cresswell. Minutes later it was Arsenal with a corner when Cresswell was forced to send a long pass intended for Pepe down the right into the crowd. Fabianski came out to claim the ball, and after a slight lapse in concentration in getting rid of the ball when Mari ran in front of him the threat was over.
Five minutes later Pepe got the ball on the right side of the West Ham eighteen yard box. I knew he would do a few step-overs before trying a shot with his left foot, because he kind of always does that, so why Cresswell didn’t seem to know that surprised me. The shape and organization of the back four stayed true, so the game remained scoreless.
Thank you Billy Sharp. Norwich down by one to Shafting United.
West Ham upped their count of missed chances to four in the 40th minute when Antonio made a run down the left and sent a cross into the box that Luiz headed behind for a corner. Noble found Diop at the far post with the set piece, and the West Ham center back headed the ball towards goal. Antonio was there, but it looked as if he didn’t quite know where he was and the ball bounced off his shin and out for a goal kick.
West Ham 0
The second half opened with Arsenal on the ball in the West Ham half. They moved the ball around, won the ball back after Bowen intercepted a pass and tried to start a counter, and generally looked the better side. In many ways, other than the scoreline, it resembled the match earlier in the season at The London Stadium. Arsenal were second best in the first forty five, but started to assert themselves when the whistle blew to star the second half.
Arsenal had a chance to take the lead in the 52nd minute when Saka danced through three West Ham defenders and threaded a pass to the cutting Nketiah. Fabianski came out to meet the striker and stopped the shot with his left arm and Ogbonna cleared. Nketiah got behind Ogbonna moments later but Fabianski came out to smother and end the attack.
West Ham yet again had a fantastic chance to take the lead in the 56th minute. Cresswell sent a cross from the left that Haller was able to flick on to Antonio all alone in front of Leno. But his header was weak and right at the Arsenal keeper. Despite the possession numbers West Ham had more solid chances than the hosts, and the specter of not taking something from a game like that was looming.
Bowen went on a run in the 66th minute down the middle. He may have made the wrong choice by trying a long low shot instead of finding someone else out wide. Maybe his shot could have been better. But in real time, watching it, he had space and I understood the decision. Leno saved it with ease. A few minutes later it was Bowen again on the run, this time winning a corner down the right. It was cleared, but only as far as Noble who then won a free kick 25 yards from goal. Arsenal handled the set piece, and the squandered chances scoreboard kept leaning in West Ham’s direction.
Fornals had a very good chance in the 75th minute after Bowen launched a counter attack. The initial swarm was repelled, but Noble sent a cross that found Fornals unmarked in the box. The in form midfielder tried a volley, but his contact wasn’t solid and into the ground. The ball bounced rather harmlessly to Leno.
In the 78th minute, Arsenal finally made the breakthrough courtesy of VAR. A pass from Saka deflected to Ozil, who pushed it to Lacazette, who bounced it past Fabianski. Danny Gabbidon was doing the color commentary and said West Ham will feel hard done by since we have been the better side in his opinion. “Chance after chance after chance” said the former Hammer.
West Ham 0
West Ham almost answered when Bowen sent a pass to Haller in the box. The angle was tight, but Haller got a shot off that Leno did well to stop. Moments later the Hammers won a corner but couldn’t capitalize. Soucek then sent a cross into the box that Fornals couldn’t get to in front of Leno. Seconds after that Ngakia broke down the right and rolled a pass into the box that Haller got a touch on, but Luiz came back and did enough to push the ball wide. Then Rice went on a long, box to box run that ended with a ball out wide for Antonio. But his looping cross didn’t find anyone and Arsenal cleared.
West Ham 0
If we were 13th in the table or something like that, the performance today would have been something I could easily finish my weekend with. And in the end, the table looks almost exactly the same as it did at the start of the day. When you are in a relegation battle and away at Arsenal, it could have turned out far worse. But Arsenal were lucky and got away with it. We were a bit better, and had we been even a little clinical in front of goal we would have had a point.