Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

Arsenal prevail with Alexandre Lacazette VAR assisted winner over unlucky Hammers

Posted on 7 March 2020 by Tusdiq Din

Arsenal 1 West Ham United 0

Arsenal prevailed over an obdurate and at times classy West Ham in a London derby at the Emirates which in truth could have gone either way. The Gunners have not had much VAR joy up until now. Sokratis was denied a late winner against Crystal Palace last October, but the controversial technology finally came good as far as Mikel Arteta’s side were concerned to deny the Hammers. Substitute Alexandre Lacazette had been introduced to replace Eddie Nketiah on the hour mark, and his volley past Lukasz Fabianski after 78 minutes from Mesut Ozil’s cushioned header was ruled out for offside and needed to be looked at again.

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Lacazette celebrates his VAR assisted winner over West Ham

Referee Martin Atkinson and everyone inside the Emirates stadium were made to wait for what seemed like an age before the signal from Stockley Park came back to confirm that Angelo Ogbonna was the last West Ham defender, and the goal was to stand. Both Ozil and Lacazette were ruled just onside as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s initial cross in came in off Declan Rice. It was cruel on David Moyes’ side, who had continually been denied by Bernd Leno alone at times. The busy Jarrod Bowen should have given the Hammers the lead on 66 minutes when his run from deep had the Arsenal defence back peddling. However Leno made the save from his low drive. On his Premier League debut, Pablo Mari tidied up.

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Two games, two clean sheets. Mari has settled quickly in England

Arsenal’s German goal keeper put in a man of the match performance between the sticks, having initially denying Bowen in the first minute with a fingertips save onto his post. Sebastien Haller then took too long to fashion a shot allowing Leno to pounce at his feet after Dani Ceballos lost possession trying to play out from the back. It was a rare oversight by Ceballos who, but for Leno’s performance would have had a legitimate claim for man of the match. Arsenal enjoyed the lion’s share of the possession but Bukayo Saka and Nicolas Pepe were being frustrated as they couldn’t get any service to Nketiah from the flanks.

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Antonio squandered gilt edged chances in a fighting Hammers display

Aubameyang looked a peripheral figure, and could have still been feeling the effects from his last minute Europa League miss against Olympiacos ten days ago. Stationed wide on the left again here, the Gabon striker was unable to spark. Pepe’s determination and left foot skill, cutting in from the right did cause the visitors concern, however the end product didn’t have the desired effect. Aubameyang turned provider to tee up Sokratis for a header which thudded onto Fabianski’s bar. But five minutes from the break, West Ham should have been in front. Mark Noble’s corner was met by Issa Diop, and from six yards out, the unmarked Michail Antonio struck wide of the post when it seemed easier to score. Half time boos have been rare under Arteta, but his side left the field with them ringing in their ears. They needed a response.

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Lively. Bowen was unlucky not to score at Emirates

Nketiah had his best chance to score from Saka’s reverse pass after 52 minutes, but Fabianski rushed off his line to smother the danger. West Ham made clear their intentions, and they weren’t going to sit back. Again Leno kept the scores goalless, somehow managing to claw the ball away from Antonio. Five minutes after conceding to Lacazette’s opener, Bowen’s cross from the left found Haller. From close in, Leno covered his near post to make another save.

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Can’t look. Moyes side fought without reward in 1-0 loss to Arsenal

The visitors were playing unlike a team fighting for their Premier League lives, but were continually denied following a string of fine saves from Leno. Arsenal were forced to sit back at times with Ceballos giving his side that extra defensive nous which Ozil would love to have in his locker. Five minutes of  time added on was signalled. Substitute Reiss Nelson skied over the bar from 20 yards, and at the other end, David Luiz, Sokratis and Mari finished strong to keep a clean sheet and a 1-0 to the Arsenal scoreline.

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Leno was in inspirational form against West Ham

The Gunners are now unbeaten in eight Premier League matches (W4 D4), which is the longest current run in the competition, a statistic would not have been envisaged when Arteta took over at the Emirates last December. With three clean sheets in their past four league games, which is as many as they had in their previous 23, Arsenal hold onto their slim hopes of a top five finish

West Ham are in 16th spot level on 27 points with third from bottom Bournemouth.