Arsenal player ratings vs West Ham: Lacazette seals comeback draw
LONDON, ENGLAND – MARCH 21: Alexandre Lacazette of Arsenal celebrates with Gabriel Martinelli and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang after scoring their side’s third goal during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Arsenal at London Stadium on March 21, 2021 in London, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Justin Tallis – Pool/Getty Images)
Arsenal’s official instagram account posted a photo with the caption “full focus” right before the match. Ironic, because the first 30 minutes of this tie were the worst 30 minutes of football I’ve ever seen an Arsenal team play, ever, and I watched both Bayern 5-1’s, and the infamous Chelsea 6-0 where the wrong player was sent off.
Passive, passive, passive. That’s the best way to describe the first half. It’s like we’ve spent so long trying to learn to score, we forgot completely how to defend. The best defense really is attack for this Arsenal squad. The first goal we conceded was unstoppable, though Thomas Partey should have closed down Lingard. But the second was reminiscent of our game against Southampton, in December 2019, under Unai Emery.
We conceded a very similar goal, off a quick free kick, and at the time (in my second ever piece for Pain In The Arsenal), I compared the group of moaning players to a quartet of hatstands: arms wide, standing still, doing nothing productive. And once again I have to use that term. Falling asleep like that is inexcusable.
And then the third goal came, and like the other two it was completely deserved. For lack of a better word, we looked s**t. There was no desire, no fire, no hunger. But as this team so often does, we fought back, and looked the better team until the halftime break.
What a stupid game of football.
And so good.
— Pain In The Arsenal (@PainInThArsenal) March 21, 2021
But thankfully, our “Mr. Hyde” of a first half drew out our inner “Dr. Jekyll” in the second. I don’t know what Arteta said to them at half time, but they came out in the second half looking like a rejuvenated team, like they should look if they ever hope to compete with a frankly superior West Ham side.
We started as the Claret-and-Blues did after the opening whistle, putting the home side under the cosh, as best we could. It worked a treat, with Craig Dawson scoring an own goal off of a thundering Calum Chambers cross.
Substitutions for a knackered Xhaka and overplayed Bukayo Saka gave us our first look at a Mikel Arteta 4-3-3, with Pepe staying at the right wing, and Emile Smith Rowe and Martin Ødegaard forming a double pivot either side of Thomas Partey.
And within that space, we should have conceded two, and we bagged an equalizer off of Alexandre Lacazette’s beautiful bald head. Is 3-3 a deserved result? Absolutely not, it should’ve been 5-5. Ridiculous.
Arsenal’s Brazilian defender David Luiz (L) and West Ham United’s English midfielder Michail Antonio compete during the English Premier League football match between West Ham United and Arsenal. (Photo by PAUL CHILDS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Nothing he could do about Jesse Lingard’s thunderbolt early on, but he’s dropped a howler for Bowen’s sneaky goal two minutes later. Good save to deny Declan Rice at the death.RB: Calum Chambers – 6.5
Playing him at right back was a tactical mistake. He’s just too natural of a CB, and did a horrendous job of covering the right flank. Most of West Ham’s promising attacks came down that flank, and Aaron Cresswell found far too much room. But he was a different man in the second half. His assist for Lacazette was lovely, and he assisted Craig Dawson’s own goal (is that a thing?) as well. In the opening 30 minutes, there was no question in my mind that he shouldn’t have started, but he turned it around, credit to him. Looked like prime Cafu in the second 45.CB: David Luiz – 4.0
An odd performance by David Luiz, because normally he’s either brilliant or bonkers, but at least he’s present. He was entirely passive in this game, getting beat to crosses, and to headers, and generally not challenging for the ball. Disappointing overall.CB: Pablo Mari – 5.5
He really does have lovely technical quality, doesn’t he. Made precise, excellent tackles throughout the match. His movement though, does have to be questioned, as does his ability to track runs. Played some sloppy passes too. Reasonably anonymous in the second half, but I certainly don’t mind that his name wasn’t called much. Solid showing.LB: Kieran Tierney – 6.0
Almost played center-forward at times, and looked promising going forward, but has to be at fault for Jarrod Bowen’s goal. He’s not even looking at the ball, or the man, when the free kick is played. I love him but that’s inexcusable. However, he rebounded after Lacazette’s goal, to his credit. Wasn’t exactly the fulcrum of our attack in the second half, but looked to create throughout, and put in the double-block of the season against Bowen and Antonio.