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  • Julian Taylor at Emirates Stadium

Arteta happy as Arsenal move on up with West Ham wilting under pressure



Arsenal 3 West Ham United 1


Mikel Arteta celebrated the third anniversary of his Arsenal management, praising the spirit of his buoyant team who continue to raise the Premier League stakes. With a fresh seven point advantage at the summit, the Gunners recovered from a goal down to overwhelm West Ham at the Emirates.


There was to be no mid-term leaden mood for Arsenal who simply picked up where they had left off before the World Cup interrupted all this fine progress. These three points were secured with character and a refusal to panic in the wake of going into half time behind, against the Hammers who had threatened only sporadically before an eventual dishevelment.


Said Benrahma put West Ham ahead from the penalty spot, until Arsenal took command with replies from Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Eddie Nketiah.


“I am really happy with the performance and result,” said Arteta. “In the context of the game they were a goal up, and after a penalty you saw the reaction of the crowd and the composure of the team. They knew what was demanded.


“We overcame challenges and difficult moments. Now we cannot control what opponents do, we only focus on our performance.”


Arteta praised a number of players, but there was special mention for captain Martin Odegaard, who kept the north Londoners moving along nicely.


He said: “It was a top performance from him. You could see what he was like on the ball. He guides the team so well and had a real impact on how the team played overall tonight.”


So if it is a certain ‘business as usual’ in this part of north London, David Moyes, the West Ham manager, on the other hand, is likely to feel the pressure of defeat, even if it was against effervescent league leaders. The east Londoners remain just two points above the relegation zone and with another London derby, at home to Brentford, in four days’ time, respite is at a premium.


Hoping for a slice of post-World Cup freshness, Arsenal approached the encounter via lofty heights, above Newcastle United who had romped past Leicester City earlier in the day.


Moreover, Arteta’s men had, arguably, a serene sense of guidance from above. Former boss Arsene Wenger, no less, was watching from the stand, back at his former citadel for the first time in over four years. And the collective, congested warmth inside the Emirates following Martinelli’s pincer strike to put Arsenal ahead early in the second half, sparked chants in tribute to the guru forever decorated in club folklore.


Influence


“He is so attached to this club and I will go and see him,” explained Arteta, post-match. “It is going to be much better to speak to him after this, and the team performance was at a level I think he will like. He is such an influence on me in my career, and on this football club.”


How ‘le professeur’ must have relished the flowering of these young guns under Arteta, his one time protege, of sorts. Martinelli’s moment was quite the coup de grace – although a third effort from Eddie Nketiah was a close contender - as the Hammers wilted under the strain of the hosts’ determination.


Arsenal began well enough, with Saka seeing a goal ruled out by VAR for offside, and it simply seemed only a matter of time before their main architects – Saka, Martinelli and Nketiah – would make capital.


Yet in the 25th minute, West Ham made their presence felt following a few minutes of attractive play. Arsenal defender William Saliba was a micro second too late to thwart the drift into the penalty area by Jarrod Bowen, the former Saint Etienne player clipping the Hammers’ raider.

Benrahma was subsequently coolness personified, sweeping the spot kick past home keeper Aaron Ramsdale to drive the visitors in front, during a pivotal period, with Arsenal threatening to overwhelm.


Going ahead at the Emirates had enough significance about it to embolden Moyes’s men – at least temporarily -,with the energy of Aaron Cresswell and Bowen most apparent. Nevertheless, this Arsenal outfit has been harnessed by Arteta to exercise both impressive and pretty swathes of patience under scrutiny.


The visitors held firm until the break with the hope that Moyes could orchestrate sufficient resources to quell what was to prove to be a concerted drive by Arsenal for much of the second half. Those Hammers’ hopes were to be short lived, sunk by a clinical double inside five minutes.


Saka levelled in the 53rd minute. The England international invariably causes a stir when in possession, but on this occasion he intercepted a wayward shot from Odegaard to place a shot into the corner of the net, with West Ham’s Cresswell and Thilo Kehrer unable to intervene.


Then it was Martinelli’s turn. The Brazilian, coming into real maturity in his career under Arteta, moved quickly to crash home a superb left footed, angled shot under Lukasz Fabianski.


Dominance


Nketiah, perhaps a little under appreciated at times amid all this ongoing Arsenal energy and spirit, got in on the act, turning Arsenal’s dominance into an extra – and decisive - advantage. The feisty striker, praised by Arteta afterwards, swivelled cleverly past a static Kehrer to drill low into the far corner. Cruise control thereafter for the Gunners, with any instincts from West Ham to try and get back into the game completely shot.


Moyes, amid current difficulties, was realistic.


“We showed resilience at times in the first half but we didn’t do that in the second,” admitted the West Ham manager. “Arsenal played well in both the first and second half but we were too soft in the second half. Tonight was a hard game, coming to Arsenal who are in good form.


“Arsenal smothered us and made it difficult and a couple of decisions went against us. They played really well and are a fantastic team but we should have done a better job.”


If Arsenal are in full control of their destiny this season, West Ham will at least have better opportunities to improve.


Gunners: Ramsdale, Tierney (Zinchenko 72), White, Gabriel. Saliba, Partey (Elneny 90), Odegaard, Xhaka, Nketiah, Saka, Martinelli (Vieira 87)


Hammers: Fabianski, Cresswell, Coufal, Dawson, Paqueta, Kehner, Rice, Soucek (Fornals 77), Antonio (Mubama 85), Bowen, Benrahma

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