Arsenal ended its nine-game winless streak on Monday, coming from behind to win 3-1 at West Ham in Premier League play. The Gunners were awful in the first half but scored all three goals in a brilliant nine-minute stretch in the second half, giving the team its first win under caretaker manager Freddie Ljungberg. Arsenal’s win was its first since October. As for West Ham, it’s yet another defeat that pushes the club uncomfortably close to the relegation zone with a ton of questions and few answers.
Here are three takeaways from the match:
1. Arsenal’s first half was ugly
It can’t be overstated. That first half from Arsenal was horrific when it comes to the attacking side of the ball. Don’t mind that the Gunners conceded a silly goal and trailed 1-0 entering the break, but consider the following from the lackluster first 45 minutes:
- Arsenal had 65 percent of possession in the first half yet couldn’t even produce a single shot on goal.
- Two total shots came nowhere close, and not once did the team feel like it was capable of finding the back of the net.
- This was all against a poor West Ham defense.
Luckily for the Gunners, it got better.
2. Gunners deliver after halftime
From the beginning of the second half, it was a different Arsenal. Who knows if it was the words of Ljungberg or what, but the team deserves credit. The difference was night and day, and it all came down to the urgency shown on the pitch. There’s no question Arsenal had the technical ability, but playing with more pace and getting the ball forward quicker gave the team time in space to make things happen.
After Gabriel Martinelli scored on his Premier League debut to tie it, 1-1, 60 minutes in, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang found Nicolas Pepe quickly on the right, and he pulled off a fantastic goal six minutes later. Take a look:
The Gunners continued to move the ball better and play with confidence with West Ham collapsing. Aubameyang sealed it three minutes later on a fine combination with Pepe:
Overall, it wasn’t great, but the second half was certainly encouraging and showed what this team can do. With urgency and intensity, Arsenal can get back into the fight for European spots, but the club must build off of this one and continue to grow. The defense still needs some work, but it played well out of the back when it needed to.
3. West Ham coaching change could be coming
It seems like Manuel Pellegrini’s days are now numbered at West Ham. The Chilean manager got the team off to a solid start this season where it looked like a dark horse to finish inside the top six, but now the team is in 16th place and only a point above relegation. The Hammers have lost eight of their last 10 games and have conceded three goals in four of the last six matches. Pablo Fornals and Sebastien Haller haven’t quite fit in as expected, and the injuries (especially to goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski) have really caused this team to go backward. The team created a couple solid chances in this game but fell off the map in the second half and was nowhere near as confident as in the first.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Pellergrini is fired this week, but maybe the board will give him one more shot next week against Southampton — the team in the final relegation spot at the moment. If Pellegrini gets to coach that game, a loss would all but certainly mean the end of his tenure in London..
Catch more Premier League action this week on fuboTV (Try for free), including Arsenal vs. Manchester City on Sunday.