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Arsenal 0 West Ham 2: Gunners’ title hopes suffer huge dent as VAR controversy mars Hammers’ stunning victory


DAVID MOYES was always going to need a huge dollop of luck if, for once in his life, he was actually going to leave Arsenal with a decent result.

So, after 18 defeats and four draws, the West Ham manager got an elusive victory and it was one which also brought smiles to the faces of both fans of Liverpool and Manchester City.

Jarrod Bowen was judged to have kept the ball in play

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Jarrod Bowen was judged to have kept the ball in playCredit: Amazon Prime
Konstantinos Mavropanos came back to haunt his former club

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Konstantinos Mavropanos came back to haunt his former clubCredit: Reuters
Soucek smashed into an empty net from close range

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Soucek smashed into an empty net from close rangeCredit: Reuters
Former West Ham captain Declan Rice conceded a late penalty

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Former West Ham captain Declan Rice conceded a late penaltyCredit: Reuters

Yet no one at Arsenal was laughing in by far their worst performance of the campaign and it would have been worse had Said Benrahma not missed an injury-time penalty.

Home boss Mikel Arteta, who has still not forgotten last month’s controversial loss at Newcastle, saw his team concede an opening goal by Tomas Soucek which featured yet another huge VAR flashpoint.

The 13th-minute strike was only awarded after Craig Pawson at Stockley Park could not be 100 per cent sure whether Jarrod Bowen had failed to keep the ball in play before setting up the chance.

To make matters worse for Arteta, defender Mavropanos, who made just seven appearances for Arsenal, grabbed the second after his header hit the bar AND the post on its way in.

As West Ham’s players jumped around in delight, Mavropanos refused to celebrate although most of the people inside this ground had probably forgotten he played for them in the first place.

So, this was terrible result for Arsenal and it is now just one win in four in the Premier League games.

While a loss at Aston Villa and draw away to Liverpool were certainly no reason to panic, this overall performance will really worry the Spanish coach.

Equally, you have to give credit to Moyes’ team who defended brilliantly, despite Arsenal missing some good chances. It is now just one defeat in eight for West Ham in the league and they are back in the top six which is one hell of an effort.

Arsenal dominated in every area but the scoreline

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Arsenal dominated in every area but the scoreline
West Ham had to defend well to earn three points

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West Ham had to defend well to earn three points
Rice failed to embrace against his former employees

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Rice failed to embrace against his former employees

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As for Arteta, he will need to see a decent reaction against Fulham. While his team, are still playing well, there is something currently missing from last season.

Even in the stands, there is a sense of nerves maybe because last time around, there was always an electric, almost party atmosphere because their brilliant challenge for the title was so unexpected.

Yet now, they have to deal with the pressure. And however difficult it could be, if Arsenal are able to sign Ivan Toney from Brentford next month, they should do it.

As for Declan Rice, this was a tough match against his former club and he also gave away the late spot-kick. It was not his first game against West Ham as the £105m summer arrival came on as a substitute when Arsenal lost in the Carabao Cup last month.

While he did not appear to be getting too much stick from his former fans, there was a huge cheer from the away end when, finding himself in a dangerous area, was robbed of the ball by Bowen.

That moment sort of summed up the game as in general, Arsenal took their eyes off the ball.

After being put through by a brilliant flick from Martin Odegaard, you would have put a few quid on Bukayo Saka to score but he shot straight at Alphonse Areola.

After overcoming an opening spell of Arsenal pressure, West Ham took the lead in what was their first decent attack of the game.

Gabriel has to take some responsibility as he booted Emerson’s cross straight at Oleksandr Zinchenko. Bowen cut the ball back for Soucek who had an easy chance from six yards.

There was another long VAR check to see whether Bowen had kept the ball in play. But despite looking at all the angles, Bowen’s leg and the post blocked the cameras from giving a pinpoint location of the ball, so the goal had to stand.

That moment knocked the stuff out of Arteta’s team who, having looked co confident, became surprisingly ragged and edgy.

And it was not as though Moyes’ team had it easy as Lucas Paqueta, who played despite injuring himself in the warm-up, came off after 32 minutes.

Jarrod Bowen played an integral role for the Hammers once again

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Jarrod Bowen played an integral role for the Hammers once again
Lucas Paqueta's injury was the only sour note for West Ham

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Lucas Paqueta’s injury was the only sour note for West HamCredit: Getty
Gabriel Jesus had a game to forget

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Gabriel Jesus had a game to forget

Arsenal continued to be wasteful with Saka having a couple of good chances, with one of those efforts hitting the post, Gabriel Martinelli lashed a shot wide.

In the second half, Arteta will have wanted a strong reaction and he looked to have got it. Rice hammered a shot over the bar and Arsenal were in complete command only for West Ham to score in their first attack of the second half.

Mavropanos got in front of James Ward Prowse’s corner and a helpless David Raya looked in despair as the ball hit the bar, the post and then went over the line.

When Gabriel Jesus failed to score with an easy far post header, you knew it would not be Arsenal’s night.

And then, Rice brought down Emerson yet Benrahma’s penalty was saved by Raya.

Even so, Moyes, no longer has to dread getting on a bus to the Emirates.

Arsenal face tricky opponents next to get their title bid back on track

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Arsenal face tricky opponents next to get their title bid back on track

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