Alexandre Lacazette was the super-sub while Dani Ceballos and Bernd Leno impressed as Arsenal beat West Ham United 1-0 on Saturday.
It was a game wherein West Ham United had the better of the chances, even as Arsenal dominated the proceedings. The Gunners, though, were toothless in the final third, conjuring up a mere two shots on target over the course of the game. Fortunately for them, one of those shots would end up being the match-winner.
Alexandre Lacazette scored from point-blank range midway through the second half when he was set up by Mesut Ozil, who deftly nodded the ball towards the Frenchman after Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s initial effort was blocked.
On the opposite end, Bernd Leno made a string of saves to preserve his clean sheet. The result means Arsenal are now just five points behind fifth-placed Chelsea ahead of the Blues’ latest league game, against Everton. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Mikel Arteta’s men.
Bernd Leno: 9/10
Much before Alexandre Lacazette sealed all three points for Arsenal, it was Leno who was saving the hosts’ blushes on the opposite end. With West Ham United conjuring up the better of the openings, Leno had to stay alert, which is exactly what he did, making as many as six saves over the course of the game.
The most notable of these stops was the one from Michail Antonio’s header in the second half, as he palmed the ball away to safety while going in the opposite direction. There were a few hairy moments here and there, but none that ended up spoiling the party for Leno. Time and again, the saviour at the back for Arsenal.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos: 6/10
A surprise selection ahead of Hector Bellerin in the right-back slot. Perhaps picked to negate the influence of Antonio, Sokratis had his good and bad moments against the Englishman. Going forward, he offered very little as always, although he should have done better when heading Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s long pass. Still, he is not a right-back and Bellerin needs to return soon.
David Luiz: 6/10
The ever-present in Arsenal’s defence, Luiz made a nervy start to the game, which included a comical moment also involving Leno. However, he collected himself thereafter and provided a solid presence at the heart of the backline while also being very vocal to guide Pablo Mari. Decent day at work for the Brazilian.
Pablo Mari: 6/10
A hit and miss game for Mari, who was making his Premier League debut against West Ham. Swift and assured with the ball at his feet, Mari completed 82 passes and 8 long balls. However, at times, he was caught out defensively, particularly in the air, although he recovered well on most occasions, making a game-high 8 clearances. A good base to build upon.
Bukayo Saka: 7/10
The games continue to come thick and fast, but Saka is not burning out one bit. Was up against it in his personal duel with Jarrod Bowen, early on, but grew into the game as it progressed. As always, he carried a great deal of threat going forward and provided 3 key passes. The composure he shows in the final third is beyond his years and on another day, he would have had at least one assist.
Dani Ceballos: 9/10
Continuing his good run in the Premier League, Ceballos turned in another solid all-round performance. Everything that went into the final third went through the Spaniard, who pulled the strings well in the middle of the park, making a game-high 100 passes as well as completing 6 of the 7 long balls he attempted.
At the same time, Ceballos did not shy away from putting in the hard yards off the ball either, winning 5 tackles and each of his 8 duels while also completing 6 interceptions. One of the best performances in an Arsenal shirt by Ceballos so far and he will hope there is more to come, as the Gunners look to nail down a top four spot.
Granit Xhaka: 5/10
Xhaka was not quite at his best against West Ham. The former Arsenal captain started off on a horrible note, giving the ball away cheaply in the second minute. He then proceeded to be passive in the middle of the park, which did not help the hosts one bit. That he had a passing rate of 85.7 percent in such a game is a damning indictment of how he was sub-par. Will have better days.
Nicolas Pepe: 5/10
An incredibly frustrating performance by Pepe. While the Ivorian was a major threat in the final third and often had the West Ham defenders back-pedaling, his end product left a whole lot to be desired. After all, what use does a good dribble have when you overcomplicate matters and do not either put in a good final ball or take aim at goal. Desperately needs to work on sorting this out.
Mesut Ozil: 6.5/10
Given the freedom to roam and make things happen in the final third, Ozil was tidy and precise when moving the ball along. However, like Pepe, he has a frustrating tendency of not taking a shot when the moment warrants it. Nevertheless, he ended up making a definitive difference, deftly heading the ball towards Alexandre Lacazette, who scored the winner. Areas to improve, still.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: 6/10
A horrible day at work for the most part for Aubameyang, who salvaged some pride by having a hand in the match-winner. After all, it was his shot that deflected towards Ozil before Lacazette scored the only goal of the game. For the remainder of the match, though, the Arsenal captain was either anonymous or was shut out well by the West Ham defence.
Eddie Nketiah: 6/10
Another player who did not quite enjoy himself against West Ham on Saturday. With Arsenal struggling to thread a quality final pass, Nketiah often fed off scraps, although he should have done much better when set up by Saka minutes before his substitution. Might be back on the bench next time out.
Alexandre Lacazette: 8/10
Alexandre Lacazette has scored seven goals in the Premier League this season for Arsenal:
There’s no place like the Emirates. 🏡 pic.twitter.com/if35yyURMv
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 7, 2020
The match-winner. Lacazette had a point to prove when he was introduced with half an hour left. And, the Frenchman played like that as well, constantly taking on the West Ham defenders, though he, too, did not get good service. In the end, though, Lacazette made all the difference by driving a close range shot into the back of the net. Might just be back in Arteta’s good books.
Reiss Nelson: 6/10
Given the final 20 minutes to make an impact, Nelson looked like a man who was high on confidence in the wake of a stunning performance earlier in the week. However, bar a decent effort from range, the youngster did precious little, having just 10 touches on the ball while making a mere 3 passes.
Hector Bellerin: N/A
A late introduction in place of Ozil, Bellerin helped see the game out.