Arsenal fought back from three goals down to draw with West Ham United in Sunday’s London derby, denting the Hammers’ Champions League ambitions.
Jesse Lingard and Jarrod Bowen put the Hammers firmly in control before a quickfire double from Tomas Soucek at either end gave the Gunners hope – a second-half own goal from Craig Dawson and an Alexandre Lacazette header completed the comeback at the London Stadium.
Coming into the contest, West Ham were looking to bounce back after last weeks narrow defeat to Manchester United, whilst Arsenal were aiming to build on Thursday’s progression to the Europa League quarter-finals.
David Moyes made two changes to last week’s side, with Jesse Lingard replacing club captain Mark Noble and Said Benrahma replacing Ben Johnson.
West Ham: Fabianski, Coufal, Dawson, Diop, Cresswell, Soucek, Rice, Bowen, Lingard, Benrahma, Antonio.
Callum Chambers returned to right-back for only his second league start of the season, with Pablo Marri partnering David Luiz in defence and Thomas Partey and Lacazette both starting from the off.
Arsenal: Leno, Chambers, David Luiz, Mari, Tierney, Partey, Xhaka, Saka, Odegaard, Aubameyang, Lacazette.
Arsenal were made to pay for their sluggish start, finding themselves two goals behind with 17 minutes on the clock, conceding twice in the space of 98 seconds.
Michail Antonio wriggled his way down the left-hand side in the 15th minute before cutting the ball back for Lingard to fire home the game’s opener from the edge of the box.
Taking his goal tally to five against Arsenal, it was the on-loan Manchester United midfielder who was the quickest to react to more appalling defending moments later.
Saka had fouled Antonio on the edge of the area, and with the Gunners defence sleeping, Lingard slipped in Bowen to squeeze the ball past Berd Leno at his near post.
Arteta was immediately forced into a tactical change with Aubameyang and Saka switching flanks, but he witnessed his side concede for a third time just after the half-hour mark.
Vladimir Coufal’s inviting cross was met by a powerful header from Antonio, with Soucek guiding the ball past a helpless Leno (32).
It was the earliest the Hammers had scored three goals in a Premier League game since 2007 against Bolton.
Soucek’s second goal of the game came just before half time (38), with the Czech unable to avoid deflecting Lacazette’s fierce shot past Lukasz Fabianski, handing the Gunners a lifeline before half-time.
Momentum was shifting Arsenal’s way, and the north London side came out firing in the second half.
By the hour mark, Arsenal had reduced the deficit to one, after the second own goal of the game.
Lacazette’s quickly taken free-kick found Martin Odegaard, who picked out Callum Chambers on the overlap before the Englishman’s low cross was crashed home by the helpless Dawson.
West Ham then had two glaring opportunities to restore their two-goal lead.
Lingard’s flicked pass was helped on to Bowen by Antonio, but a last-ditch block from Tierney sent the ball out for a corner.
Moments later, a surging run from Benrahma down the left saw a cross-shot fizzed across the Arsenal box, and Antonio’s out-stretched leg could only divert the ball against the post.
Arsenal completed a pulsating comeback on the 82nd minute with Odegaard involved once more, the Norwegian finding substitute Nicolas Pepe down the right, whose first-time cross was headed home by Lacazette at the far-post.
With just over ten minutes remaining including injury-time, it was a matter of next goal wins.
First, it was West Ham to come close, with Declan Rice’s lung-busting run from deep forcing a smart save from Leno, who had been a spectator for most of the second period.
Back came Arsenal for one last throw at the dice, but Pepe’s tame effort was directed straight into the hands of the grateful Fabianski, bringing a highly entertaining fixture to an end.
West Ham manager David Moyes heaped praise on his players for their explosive start to the game, believing his side were thoroughly deserving of their three-goal lead.
Despite allowing Arsenal back into the game, he refused to accept the scoreline felt like a defeat and stressed it was another valuable point gained in their pursuit for European football.
Mikel Arteta was critical of his sides “unacceptable” defending in the first half, suggesting a “hangover’ from Thursday night’s Europa League tie.
His side’s character to once more produce a comeback pleased the Arsenal manager but stressed the need for their quality to be sustained over a 90 minute period.
😤 "I'm very disappointed because I cannot accept my team playing the way we did."
🗣 Mikel Arteta was frustrated with Arsenal's defending against West Ham but praised his players for their desire after salvaging a point. pic.twitter.com/rzBKYV5bvj
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) March 21, 2021
West Ham travel to Wolves on Monday, April 5 (8.15 pm) in the Premier League after the international break, whilst Arsenal host Liverpool on Sunday, April 4 (4.30 pm).
West Ham are currently fifth in the Premier League table, while Arsenal have moved up to the ninth.