Arsenal boosted their hopes of finishing in the Premier League top four with a narrow win over West Ham at Emirates Stadium. Alexandre Lacazette’s goal 12 minutes from time, which was confirmed by the video assistant referee, lifted the Gunners up to ninth, five points behind Chelsea in fourth. The France forward swept a close-range effort into the bottom-left corner from Mesut Ozil’s cushioned header for his third goal in four games. West Ham, who enjoyed the better of the scoring opportunities until that point, remain 16th, above the bottom three only on goal difference. While David Moyes’ side had limited possession, they took the game to their hosts, who came out of the blocks sluggishly and struggled to inject any tempo to their play.
Jarrod Bowen’s early shot was tipped on to a post by Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno and Michail Antonio failed to score from two clear chances either side of the interval. Greece defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos earlier went close for Arsenal – he headed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s cross against the bar – before Lacazette popped up with the winner. Victory meant Arsenal claimed a third consecutive league win at home for the first time since February 2019. Since his appointment on 20 December, Arsenal have lost only one league game under Mikel Arteta, who has appeared to inject more resilience, energy and a pattern of play into his side. However, for large parts of this encounter the Spaniard’s imprint on his team was barely visible. While the outcome may have enhanced Arsenal’s chances of qualifying for the Champions League for the first time since 2016-17, Arteta will know they will have to improve significantly to make up further ground in the race for a top-four finish.
Leading scorer Aubameyang, was a peripheral figure throughout. Although the Gabon forward showed glimpses of his talent, laying on chances for Sokratis and Nicolas Pepe from wide positions, he touched the ball only twice in the Hammers’ penalty area. In midfield, Arsenal were slow and ponderous, while a defence that included on-loan Flamengo defender Pablo Mari for the first time in the top flight was repeatedly caught out by West Ham’s swift counter-attacking. The one element that will please Arteta, is that his side found a way to grind out a victory when not at their best, with Leno excelling in goal and Ozil’s intelligence coming to the fore for Lacazette’s goal.