Dani Ceballos and Gabriel Magalhaes were the best of the lot as Arsenal beat West Ham United by the skin of their teeth on Saturday.
The match was scrappy affair from start to finish, with neither side managing to create a flurry of chances. Arsenal took the lead in the 25th minute courtesy Alexandre Lacazette, who nodded in from a looping cross by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. However, the hosts relinquished the initiative thereafter, with West Ham United subsequently piling on the pressure on them.
At the stroke of half time, the game was level once again, as Michail Antonio tapped in from a low cross by Ryan Fredericks. The Hammers continued to pose a greater threat post the interval and would have felt hard done by when Arsenal broke the deadlock a second time, as Eddie Nketiah scored from close range after receiving the ball from Dani Ceballos.
The Gunners would subsequently hold on to their nerves to grab all three points and continue their perfect start to the season. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Mikel Arteta’s men.
Bernd Leno: 6/10
Leno did not have a great deal of work to do apart from the two saves he made, although one of the stops was superb. However, he nearly gifted a goal to West Ham United after spilling a regulation catch and would be relieved to have not been punished for it. Could not have done anything to deny Antonio his goal, with Sead Kolasinac at fault there.
Rob Holding: 5/10
Kolasinac may be the bigger culprit in the goal that West Ham scored. But, Holding must cop some of the blame as well for letting Antonio drift ahead of him to score a pretty straightforward tap-in. Antonio continued to trouble the Englishman as the game progressed. Precise with ball at his feet and reasonably solid in the air, which helps him salvage a point.
Gabriel Magalhaes: 8/10
For a second week in a row, Gabriel was the star of the show, as far as the Arsenal defence goes. While those around him faltered, the Brazilian held his nerve, containing Antonio whenever he tried to take the game to him. Gabriel was also incredibly precise while playing out from the back and made a couple of crucial blocks. A solid addition in the Arsenal backline.
Sead Kolasinac: 3/10
Kolasinac was an emergency pick by Arteta after Kieran Tierney picked up a knock in training. The Bosnian showed exactly why he had been relegated to the bench as he was often overpowered by Jarrod Bowen. He also allowed Ryan Fredericks enough time to provide the low cross for West Ham’s goal. Quite wasteful with the ball as well, at times. Tierney cannot return soon enough.
Hector Bellerin: 5/10
This was an odd game for Bellerin, who was not involved a great deal, with the Arsenal attacks flowing from the left flank for the most part. West Ham did not attack his side much either, meaning the Spaniard was left anonymous on a few occasions. Having said that, he needs to be more proactive when he is involved, as he was too slow when progressing forward at times.
Dani Ceballos: 8/10
Ceballos started the game a tad bit slowly, showing that he still needed to shake off a bit of rust. The Spanish international did not take long to do so, however, quickly growing into the game. Influence on the game grew as a result and Ceballos was soon pulling the strings when Arsenal were on the up and up. Solid defensively and ended the game with an assist for match-winner Eddie Nketiah.
Granit Xhaka: 6/10
Ceballos’s partner in midfield, Xhaka, was not quite on top of his game against West Ham. The former Arsenal captain seemed to still show some effects of the knock he picked last week. Looked to keep things simple with the ball at his feet when he can do so much more with it. Defensively, though, Xhaka stepped up when West Ham were imposing themselves on the Gunners.
Bukayo Saka: 7/10
Starting ahead of Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Saka produced a wonderful performance against West Ham. Most of the Arsenal attacks went through him and he was involved in both the goals that the hosts scored on the night, opening up play before Aubameyang and Ceballos provided the assists for the strikes. Brings some much-needed creative impetus from the left.
After the highs of last week, Willian suffered a lot on his home debut for Arsenal. The Brazilian was well off his best against West Ham, with his decision making leaving a lot to be desired. Involved a great deal, but he did not do much in way of making an impact. Started looking leggy as the game progressed and was taken off for Nicolas Pepe.
Alexandre Lacazette: 6/10
⚽ Alexandre Lacazette has scored his 50th goal in all competitions for @Arsenal
Of his 50 goals, 36 have been scored at the Emirates Stadium (72%) 🏟️ pic.twitter.com/awEq75INEO
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) September 19, 2020
Lacazette scored the first goal of the 2020/21 Premier League season and on Saturday, he scored the first goal of the game, and his 50th for Arsenal, with a thumping header from Aubameyang’s cross. For much of the first half, he was quite crucial with his hold-up play. But, post the interval, Lacazette disappeared, which reflected in Arsenal’s offensive output as well.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: 7/10
Aubameyang, like most of his teammates, was not quite at his best on Saturday. But, it bodes well for Arsenal that he still remains quite influential when not on top of his game. Showed great awareness when setting Lacazette up for the opener. Looked to take on the West Ham defenders whenever given the opportunity. Made 3 key passes and completed 96 percent of his passes.
Nicolas Pepe: 5/10
On for Willian, Pepe had the chance to make a case for himself in a bid to usurp his more experienced teammate. However, the Ivorian did not do much of note and took too long to release the ball. Needs to do more.
Eddie Nketiah: 7/10
Arsenal's two shots on target against West Ham:
⚽️ Alexandre Lacazette (25')
⚽️ Eddie Nketiah (86')
The hour-wait was worth it. 🙃 pic.twitter.com/7Qf0olCgB8
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 19, 2020
On for Lacazette with 13 minutes left in regulation time, Nketiah looked purposeful right from the word go. Showed his positioning abilities, turning up in the right place at the right time to turn Dani Ceballos’s pass into the back of the West Ham goal. Seems to have buried the hatchet with Ceballos after last week’s public bust-up.
David Luiz: N/A
A late introduction in place of Saka, Luiz got some valuable minutes and helped see the game out.