|Emile Smith-Rowe fired in Arsenal's second on the night in a 2-0 win over Westham on Wednesday night to gatecrash the top four. (Photo credit: Premierleague.com)|
Arsenal beat Westham convincingly on Wednesday night to move into the top four for the first time in 14 months at this stage of the season.
Westham were two points ahead of Arsenal and in fourth at kickoff and considering how well the Hammers have fared when they played the big boys, not many expected the kind of display David Moyes brought to the Emirates.
Moyes dropped Said Benrahma for Pablo Fornals while the Gunners returned the same team that beat Southampton, and that was the first time since 2017 that Arsenal would be keeping same team for three straight games.
The first half was all Arsenal but they couldn’t make the breakthrough; Lukas Fabianski and some questionable finishing ensured the first half ended goalless with Westham offering absolutely nothing going forward.
The second half was more eventful. Westham were known to be monstrous in the second half all season long, and on the evidence of what Arsenal had done all season, they ranked 15th on second half display before the Hammers’ visit to the Emirates.
Arsenal took the lead through a well worked team goal from the back. Kieran Tierney found Alexander Lacazette and the Frenchman slotted a through ball to Gabriel Martinelli, the Brazilian completed a simple yet technical finish to make it 1-0 to the Arsenal.
It went from bad to worse for the visitors as Vladmir Coufal was sent off and a penalty awarded to Arsenal for a tackle on Lacazette in the Westham area.
Arsenal’s stand in captain missed from the spot as Fabianski saved brilliantly, making it three misses from the spot on the bounce for the Gunners, with Aubameyang missing against Villa although he scored from the rebound but Foster saved his last with no opportunity of redemption.
The Aubameyang situation was always going to be in the air, but Arsenal banished every negativity that could come from that with a decent second late on in the game with substitute Emile Smith Rowe getting on the score sheet.
Mikel Arteta was visibly excited, getting one over a direct rival means the team showed their worth and he didn’t hide his feelings at the post match interview.
"Really pleased with the attitude, the commitment, the quality that we showed in the game," Arteta told reporters. "The players play for the club and the pride that we expect from them. I was really happy from the beginning, because we knew that we had to play really good today to beat West Ham."