Premier League English

Premier League wannabe winners Arsenal set undesirable record in historic West Ham United defeat

A do-or-die Arsenal bared their fangs and tried to bite their way into ascendance but were most unfortunate to come up against an even more determined rival that stood their ground while actually turning the tables on their supposed predators at the most opportune of moments.

Such was the dismal manner in which Mikel Arteta’s men etched their names into an unwanted, sordid chapter of their Premier League history during their frantic 2-0 defeat to London rivals West Ham United at the Emirates Stadium.

Prior to that Liverpool had already secured a convincing 2-0 win over Burnley on Boxing Day, which gave the Reds a two-point lead at the top. This meant only a win and nothing less would be needed for Arteta’s side to return to the summit of the league table.

Having gone unbeaten in their first nine top-flight home games of the new campaign – winning seven in a row across all tournaments on home ground – one would easily have understood had the Gunners been been indulging in some measure of self-confidence in welcoming West Ham to their Emirates headquarters. However, the way things turned out, Arteta’s usually reliable side could only muster up an uncharacteristically lackluster display against a rival they had been dominating umpteen times over the years.

David Moyes – stunned in victory over his traditional rivals as the latter were equally dumbfounded by their defeat – saw goals from Tomas Soucek and former Arsenal defender Dinos Mavropanos gifting him his first-ever managerial away win against the Gunners at the 23rd attempt. Suffice it to say that the blow for the Gunners would have been an even heavier one had goalkeeper David Raya not kept out an injury-time Said Benrahma penalty.

The Irons’ defensive display was almost a masterclass despite having spent the major portions of the match inside their own half, with Arsenal having 77 touches in the West Ham penalty box yet without finding the back of the net.

It is a precedent that no Premier League team has had more touches in the penalty area in a single game without scoring, and Arteta was candid in conceding that West Ham were simply superior in both boxes on the night.

Speaking in his post-game press conference, as quoted by, a clearly disenchanted Arteta said: “When you look at how much we generated in the game, to see the result is very disappointing. But they were better than us in both boxes.

“They had two shots, with the penalty, three. We had 30, I don’t know how many touches in the box, how many situations, how many opportunities to score and we haven’t done it. In football you have to do that better if you want to win. Today we haven’t won because of that.

“If we don’t score with 30 shots, then we have to do 50 or 60 to try to score. That’s the only thing. I can’t imagine a game where we have more touches in the box, more dominance and less situations for the opponent against a really good West Ham side. Today, though, it wasn’t enough to win the game.”