Day: December 16, 2021
Arsenal 2 West Ham United 0
Arsenal overtook opponents West Ham and moved into fourth place in the Premier League by winning an eventful match at Emirates Stadium. Gabriel Martinelli scored the opener early in the second half before substitute Emile Smith Rowe confirmed victory for the Gunners late on. Arsenal captain Alexandre Lacazette also had a penalty saved by goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski in the second half. West Ham’s Vladimir Coufal was sent off for a second booking in conceding the penalty as he was judged to have fouled Lacazette in the box.
Coufal had been booked in the first half when his flailing arm caught defender Kieran Tierney in the face, inciting protest from the Arsenal players. Tierney later hit the crossbar, while there were further chances for Martinelli, Bukayo Saka and Gabriel as Arsenal were the better side throughout. The significance of this result on the league standings was felt in an intense and feisty encounter. Coufal’s unintentional foul on Tierney in the first half incited protest from Arsenal’s players, before referee Anthony Taylor quickly defused the situation with a yellow card. A few heavy tackles followed before Taylor had to speak with Arsenal’s coaching staff near the touchline. The hosts began to dominate on the field though – as well as Tierney’s strike clipping the crossbar, West Ham centre-back Craig Dawson was forced to make numerous blocks.
Saka was Arsenal’s biggest threat down the right and he was involved in the build-up to Tierney’s effort, before he teed up Lacazette’s shot which was parried into the path of Martinelli and poked inches wide. In the second half, Saka himself came close too, while West Ham’s best chances fell to Pablo Fornals and Jarrod Bowen – neither really troubling goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale. The sending off of Coufal – which West Ham understandably felt was unjust – did not make too much difference and despite a late surge from the visitors, Arsenal were able to see it off through Smith Rowe’s late goal.