Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta praised his side’s mental strength after Eddie Nketiah’s late winner maintained their 100% start to the season against West Ham.The result condemned the Hammers to a second successive defeat – the third time in the past four seasons they have lost their first two matches. “What I like is the approach the boys had in the last 25 minutes where I could see they were a bit down and then they lift it,” Arteta said. “Probably a few months ago we would have drawn or lost that game and today we win it. In the end you have to find a way because there will be games like this through the season.” The Gunners largely controlled the opening stages of the contest and deservedly went ahead when Alexandre Lacazette headed in from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s chipped cross.
However, the Hammers, who always looked dangerous on the counter-attack, levelled just before the interval when Michail Antonio bundled in Ryan Fredericks’ cross at the end of a sweeping move. While Arsenal continued to enjoy more of the ball after the break, David Moyes’ side created the better openings in front of goal with Antonio heading against the bar and seeing a scuffed close-range effort saved by Bernd Leno. But, Nketiah’s late tap-in from a Dani Ceballos pass ensured Arsenal continued their fine home record against the Hammers, having won 11 of the last 12 meetings at Emirates Stadium.
While there have been considerable signs of improvement at Arsenal since Arteta took charge last December this performance appeared to fizzle out after Lacazette had registered his 50th goal in all competitions for the club. The crispness of passing, swift attacking and solidity at the back were all noticeably missing and it allowed West Ham a route back into the encounter. However, the pleasing aspect for the Spaniard will be that his team were still capable of eking out a victory from an under-par showing. Nervy at the back throughout, Arteta’s side survived several close scares and struggled to break free of their lethargy despite the introduction of £72m winger Nicolas Pepe. It took another substitute, Nketiah, to make the difference, with his tap-in coming eight minutes after he had come on to replace Lacazette.