Arsenal 3-1 West Ham: Late Danny Welbeck strike seals first win of Unai Emery's Emirates era in hard-fought London derby
PUBLISHED: 16:56 25 August 2018 | UPDATED: 16:56 25 August 2018
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A strike from Danny Welbeck with moments remaining to make it 3-1, following an own goal from former Toulouse defender Issa Diop to make it 2-1 on 70 minutes, clinched the first win of Arsenal’s Unai Emery era at the Emirates in a hard-fought London derby on Saturday.
Marko Arnautovic had put West Ham ahead on 25 minutes but five minutes later Nacho Monreal slotted home the first home goal of the new era at Emery’s Emirates.
Emery made one change going into the match, replacing the underperforming Mesut Ozil in favour of the unsettled Aaron Ramsey, who the head coach said this week needed to focus more.
West Ham boss Mauricio Pellegrino made four changes with Carlos Sanchez, Diop, Ryan Fredericks and Michail Antonio all starting after the club’s 4-0 defeat to Liverpool at Anfield last time out.
Hopes were high for a home victory to kick-start the season after successive losses to the past two champions of England, Chelsea, and Manchester City on the opening day.
The statistics were certainly in Arsenal’s favour with only one defeat in the previous 22 matches against the Irons, even if the East Londoners total of five away wins at the home of the North London giants has only been bettered by Manchester United with eight and Liverpool on seven.
In a bright opening, helped by the sun reappearing after a torrential deluge in N5 shortly before kick-off, Arsenal thought they had gone ahead through Ramsey after Hector Bellerin crossed into the box.
The ball was deflected into the path of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who instinctive shot was saved by former Gunner Lucas Fabianski in goal before the ball fell to the 27-year-old Welshman.
Ramsey, who has fewer than 12 months left on his contract, headed into the net but referee Graham Scott ruled the midfielder was offside.
As both sides attempted to dominate, a vignette perfectly encapsulated just why Emery was right to let Wilshere depart in the summer.
The Hitchin-reared 26-year-old burst through the middle, reminiscent of his spectacular 19-year-old self - which once prompted the then Barca boss Pep Guardiola to hail his talent.
However the lively Alex Iwobi scampered to cover, catching up with Wilshere who looked desperately short of pace, before dispossessing him, to loud cheers.
However, Wilshere’s new side did go 1-0 up in the 25th minute in an excellent move which highlighted Emery’s defensive frailties.
Felipe Anderson picked the ball up on the halfway line to driving forward. He fed former Stoke striker Arnautovic, who played a neat one-two with Anderson on the edge of the box.
With four defenders near Arnautovic received the ball back before firing low past Cech to put the visitors ahead.
If the goal underlined the huge amount needed to be done with the Gunners backline, their equaliser, a mere five minutes later, showed that exuberant attacking will always be in the club’s DNA.
Good work from Bellerin on the half hour mark saw the ball fall to an onrushing Monreal who fired the ball home to mark the first goal home goal at Emery’s Emirates to silence the away fans.
Emery showed he’s not afraid to make decisions early in the match after replacing Iwobi for Alex Lacazette during the break.
The switch paid dividends with 20 minutes to go after the former Lyon striker worked space in the box to cross. The ball flew into the unfortunate Diop and into the net to cap a day to forget for the 21-year-old former Toulouse defender, who was also booked in the first half for fouling Aubameyang.
Substitute Welbeck clinced the points with moments remaining.
As the clock ticked down the West Ham fans sang their defiant anthem Bubbles, the one about their dreams fading.
For Arsenal fans savouring the first win of the Emery era their hopes are very much on the rise.
As are their beloved team.