West Ham United 1-0 Arsenal – Lack of creativity costs Gunners dearly [Review + Player Ratings]

West Ham United 1-0 Arsenal

Premier League Review

 

Rice scored the Irons’ winner

Our trip to the London Stadium didn’t really turn out well, as lost to the Irons via a Rice goal early in the second half.

This performance, over both halves, I think can be summed up via these points:

  • Strong defending (for once)

The goal we conceded saw us not close down Rice, who scored from the edge of the area. Leno couldn’t do much about it, but then we did allow him too much space to execute the shot.

However, the back three of Koscielny, Sokratis, and Mustafi, did well overall. They made last-ditch tackles, marshalled their attackers well, and didn’t really let the late introduction of Andy Carroll faze them. Kos looked like the Boss of old, and Sokratis was solid. Even Mustafi, who has come under much-warranted criticism lately, was strong too.

Despite conceding and losing, I think the defence for once deserves some praise, especially amidst the woefulness of recent games.

  • Lack of creativity

The midfield balance, in theory, made sense. Torreira didn’t start, but Guendouzi and Xhaka were in the middle instead. Moreover, Iwobi was utilised to provide some thrust, and he played well overall.

However, we lacked penetration and guile in the final third, and this told. West Ham did press us, but I feel if we had more creativity here, it would not have been hampered by them.

Overall, we lost this game since West Ham was more clinical and creative when required.

  • Ozil missing

Ozil was a no show, and could we have had more creativity had he featured? Who knows? But the total absence, possibly, denotes a deeper rift between him and Emery. There may be no rift, and maybe Ozil does have some chronic undisclosed injury. Emery did say that Ozil trained, but then it’s inexplicable as to why he isn’t playing.
Some kind of statement should be released, or maybe a joint interview, stating what the issue is. This uncertainty and confusion is not good for the fans – I state fans since we don’t know how the squad is coping with it, or if there is even a genuine schism between the two figures.

My own view is that Ozil may not have contributed much here – and that’s not to knock him. But then the team overall looked slow and lethargic, and Ozil alone may not have corrected this.

  • Auba and Laca

Laca of the two had the better game. He had a chance early on, but then in the second half, he didn’t contribute as much. Playing the two worked somewhat. Laca did drop deep to create play and help the midfield. But Auba was weak, though he is a player who needs service. He didn’t get any, and he’s not a Thierry Henry. Or Ian Wright even. He cannot necessarily create from nothing, and he didn’t really get a sniff in the game.

All players have bad games, and he’s only a goal behind Mo Salah in the PL scoring charts. But Auba didn’t impress today, and this needs to be called out.

  • Maitland-Niles

I like Ainsley a lot, but then he needs to play more in his natural position and not as a makeshift full-back, or deputy wing-back. He often lost the ball in this game, and his pace and dribbling could have been better utilised in the middle. He is no creative player, but he could have driven forward when required, and boosted us in this area.

 

  • Emery

I feel “el jefe” needs to be called out here. Yes, the calls for him to go are ludicrously inappropriate. But then his team selection and even tactics were questionable.

Why was Torreira on the bench? Why didn’t Bellerin start?

Could a 433 have worked better initially?

The introduction of Ramsey did boost things, and we did fashion chances in the latter sections. But it was too little, too late, and really it should have been something we did from the start.

I believe Emery has done well to be tactically flexible. We’ve been crying out for this in years. So really, we cannot complain that much in this regard.  But “el jefe” made some key errors here, which cost us the game, ultimately.

Overall, we could have got a good result here, but then Emery’s selections/formation, and the overall lack of impetus, energy, and drive, saw us go down. Oh, and to add salt to the wound – this guy beat us, and played well to boot:

 

Player ratings

Leno 7

Sokratis 7

Koscielny 7

Mustafi 6

Kolasinac 6

Maitland-Niles 5

Xhaka 5

Guendouzi 6

Iwobi 7

Lacazette 6

Aubameyang 4

Bellerin 6

Ramsey 7

Torreira 6

 

Man of the match

 

Alex Iwobi

 

I found Iwobi had a good game today, and calls that his end product is weak are unfounded. Perhaps he doesn’t need to score plenty of goals, and his true skill is in creating chances, getting assists, and influencing play. We did improve somewhat in the second half, and he was central to this in large part

So it’s on to Chelsea, and the top four “Kings of London” derby will be on us very soon. If I had a penny for every time a Chelsea fan asked me “where’s your European Cup??” maybe I could buy Arsenal from Kroenke, and make a good job of it. At least, unlike a certain club in the Borough of Haringey, we’ve both won the league in recent memory.

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