Missed chances cost West Ham dear as Arsenal grab late winner
PUBLISHED: 17:09 07 March 2020 | UPDATED: 17:09 07 March 2020
PA Wire/PA Images
The Hammers are stung by another VAR decision going against them as Gunners disallowed goal is overturned
Arsenal 1 West Ham United 0
David Moyes' crest-fallen Hammers were cruelly undone by another Video Assistant Referee decision at the Emirates, where substitute Alexandre Lacazette's late strike condemned the East Enders to defeat.
The Frenchman's 78th-minute strike had originally been ruled offside by Sian Massey-Ellis but a television review over-ruled the assistant referee and the Arsenal No.9's ninth goal of the campaign proved enough to make West Ham United pay for missing a hatful of earlier chances.
With Moyes never having won as a manager on his previous 15 trips to the Gunners it was another miserable afternoon for the Hammers boss, who side only remain outside the dreaded drop-zone on goal difference with nine games left to play, while Arsenal are now unbeaten in eight matches.
Kicking off in 16th-spot, the Hammers remained unchanged from last Saturday's 3-1 victory over Southampton although fit-again Tomáš Souček did return to the bench, having recovered from his hip injury faster than scheduled.
Jarrod Bowen had opened the scoring against the Saints seven days ago and, with just two minutes on the clock, the £20 million, January deadline-day capture from Hull City almost repeated the feat, when he intercepted Granit Xhaka's sloppy clearance but his low 20-yarder bounced back off the base of Bernd Leno's left-hand upright.
Then after Pablo Fornals had been unluckily booked for tripping Nichoas Pépé, Mark Noble sent Michail Antonio racing clear but his unselfish square pass to the supporting Sébastien Haller was swept behind the supporting Frenchman leaving both red-faced strikers to look high into the north London heavens, knowing that a glorious opportunity to break the deadlock had been squandered.
Having made it into the FA Cup quarter-finals with victory at Portsmouth on Monday evening, the tenth-placed Gunners made half-dozen changes as Leno, Xhaka, Dani Ceballos, Mezut Özil, Nocolas Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang returned to Premier League action.
On 13 minutes, Özil's goal-bound 12-yarder was bravely blocked by the diving Aaron Cresswell and, after Leno showed equal courage to pluck the ball off Haller's studs, Aubameyang then chipped to the far post, where Sokratis rocked the right-hand angle with a thumping header.
As the half-hour mark approached, Fornals sent a 20-yarder juddering into Leno's ribcage and, with this London derby ebbing and flowing from end-to-end, the sliding Declan Rice had to be at his diligent, defensive best to thwart Pépé's mazy run towards the six-yard box.
With the corner count hitting double-figures, Noble swung over a deep flag-kick that Antonio somehow swept wide from all of a yard to keep it goalless at the break.
Ten minutes into the second period, the Hammers No.30 had another great chance to put his side ahead, when Haller helped on Cresswell's left-wing centre but Antonio, totally unmarked, saw his eight-yard header brilliantly palmed away by Leno's left glove.
That escape was the cue for Mikel Arteta to tellingly introduce Lacazette at the expense of Eddie Nketiah for a final half-hour in which Sokratis was soon booked for checking the ever-lively Antonio.
Brimming with confidence, Bowen then steam-rolled his way to the edge of the Gunners box before letting fly with a low 18-yarder that Leno held at the second attempt before Reiss Nelson replaced Pépé.
Arsenal may well have been enjoying nigh on 75% possession but it was West Ham, who were creating the chances as Rice skied a long-ranger high into the home fans before Fornals sent another effort into Leno's clutches.
But with just 12 minutes remaining, the Gunners finally made all that possession count as the Hammers were made to pay for all their wastefulness in front of goal.
Aubameyang's 18-yarder looped off Rice's heel to Özil, who - being played on by an Angelo Ogbonna toe-nail - nodded into the path of Lacazette and he lashed what was subsequently adjudged to be a VAR-winner past former Arsenal 'keeper Łukasz Fabianski from eight yards.
GUNNERS: Leno, Saka, Sokratis, Marí, Luiz, Xhaka, Ceballos, Özil (Bellerin 88), Pépé (Nelson 69), Nketiah (Lacazette 59), Aubameyang. Unused subs: Martinez, Willock, Guendouzi, Martinelli.
HAMMERS: Fabianski, Ngakia, Cresswell, Ogbonna, Diop, Noble (Souček 79), Rice, Fornals (Anderson 87), Bowen (Snodgrass 89), Antonio, Haller. Unused subs: Randolph, Balbuena, Zabaleta, Lanzini.
Booked: Fornals (9), Sokratis (63), Antonio (90+2).
Referee: Martin Atkinson.