Premier League: West Ham United 0 Arsenal 0
PUBLISHED: 22:07 13 December 2017 | UPDATED: 22:07 13 December 2017
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Dogged and determined, the Hammers silenced Arsenal’s big guns to share the spoils at London Stadium, where David Moyes’ influence again cast its shadow across a West Ham United side that frustrated and flummoxed Arséne Wenger’s team.
The Gunners may have had all of the possession and the lion’s share of the chances but in the end, substitute Javier Hernández might have secured victory with a late, late effort that agonisingly rocked Petr Čech’s crossbar.
Moyes had finally tasted victory at the fifth time of asking on Saturday, thanks to the Hammers wonderful win over high-flying Chelsea.
But despite beating the Blues, a predictably unchanged West Ham United still kicked off in 19th spot, 16 points and 13 places behind the Gunners, the 42nd consecutive match in which manager Moyes had started a game in the dreaded drop-zone.
And it was the Hammers, who soon found themselves on the back foot as Mesut Özil tested retained ‘keeper Adrián with a low 15-yarder before unpunished Argentinian, Pablo Zabaleta, sliced through Chilean Alexis Sánchez with trademark South American aggression.
Wenger’s men arrived at London Stadium knowing that they had only lost only once to the Hammers in the last 19 clashes between these two sides and, following their 1-1 draw at Southampton on Sunday, the Frenchman made a quartet of changes as goal-scorer Olivier Giroud, Jack Wilshere – making his first Premier League start for the Gunners in 577 days – Alex Iwobi and Ainsley Maitland-Niles came in for Aaron Ramsey and Per Mertesacker, while Alexandre Lacazette and Sead Kolašinac dropped to the bench.
On the quarter-hour mark, though, West Ham thought they had taken the lead, when Marko Arnautović headed Arthur Masuaku’s left-wing centre beyond Čech but East End ecstasy soon evaporated into the chilly Stratford night, when the Austrian was adjudged offside.
Midway through the half, Sanchez sent a deflected 20-yarder inches over the left-hand angle before Maitland-Niles fired the consequently, half-cleared corner beyond Adrián’s right post.
Then as the half-hour mark approached, Iwobi collected from Sánchez and rattled the base of the Spaniard’s left-hand upright with an angled 12-yarder.
Despite having almost 70 per cent possession, Chelsea had been bereft of ideas playing in front of the Hammers at the weekend but with equal ownership of the ball, Arsenal were now looking far more imaginative as they dashed and darted around the home defence.
Giroud’s attempted scissor kick flew into Aaron Cresswell’s head, while Manuel Lanzini was booked for hauling back Wilshere before Granit Xhaka’s wayward 20-yarder signalled the end of a goalless first half.
Seconds after the restart, Arnautović hooked Mark Noble’s clever chest pass onto the roof of Čech’s net and, as an icy December downpour dropped from the heavens, Hector Bellerín sent a low 18-yarder aqua-planing wide, before Xhaka sent one into Adrián’s gloves from similar range.
Giroud also headed Iwobi’s deep cross just a whisker wide before Özil prodded beyond the far post as West Ham battled both the elements and the ever-increasing threat of Arsenal.
On the hour, Arnautović headed well wide but that was just token resistance as the visitors continued to press and, after Wilshere wastefully skied over from 10 yards, Danny Welbeck came on for Iwobi for the final 20 minutes.
Noble’s tap on Wilshere’s shins saw Sánchez curl the consequent 25-yard free-kick beyond the Hammers wall but Adrián, at full stretch, brilliantly clawed the ball aside but – now silenced by Zabaleta – that was to be the Chilean’s final contribution of the evening for he retired in place of Lacazette, while Hernández made a welcome return to the Hammers fold as the industrious Michail Antonio stood down.
With just two minutes remaining, Arnautović forced West Ham’s first corner of the evening and, shortly afterwards, Noble nonchalantly played in Hernández who swept his 12-yarder over Čech and agonisingly onto the crossbar to leave the Hammers wondering just how, against all odds, they had not snatched a dramatic late victory.
West Ham: Adrian; Zabaleta, Reid, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Obiang, Noble; Lanzini, Arnautovic, Masuaku; Antonio (Chicharito 82). Unused subs: Carroll, Sakho, Collins, Ayew, Rice, Hart.
Booked: Lanzini, Reid.
Arsenal: Cech; Bellerin, Monreal, Koscielny, Maitland-Niles; Xhaka, Wilshere, Iwobi (Welbeck 70); Ozil, Sanchez (Lacazette 82), Giroud. Unused subs: Chambers, Kolasinac, Coquelin, Elneny, Ospina.
Referee: Jonathan Moss.