Persistence proves key for Dani Ceballos as Mikel Arteta misses key piece to Arsenal jigsaw
Arsenal were made to work hard for their second successive win of the 2020/21 Premier League season by West Ham but got the job done which was the most important thing.
Despite a sub-par performance overall, goals from Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah made the difference, cancelling out Michail Antonio's equaliser for a lively West Ham side.
The Gunners next game sees them travel to the King Power Stadium where they face Leicester City in the Carabao Cup third round. Should they win, Mikel Arteta's side will face either Liverpool or Lincoln City in the fourth round.
football.london take a look at some of the talking points from the victory over West Ham below.
Returning to the starting XI for the first time this season, Dani Ceballos had a point to prove. After his impressive performances under Arteta last season, it wouldn't have been a surprise to see the Spaniard walk back into the Arsenal midfield alongside Granit Xhaka.Read More Related Articles Read More Related Articles
That hasn't been the case, however, with Mohamed Elneny impressing since returning from a loan spell of his own at Besiktas. The Egyptian started all pre-season games, the Community Shield win over Liverpool and the opening day win over Fulham - impressing on each occasion.
Making his first start since returning, it was a while before Ceballos truly found his footing in midfield. After an inconsistent first half, he began the second half well with a searching ball in behind for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and defensive contributions reminiscent of last season.
With the game drawing to a close, and Elneny being readied to come on, however, the Spaniard kicked into another gear to secure the three points. For the winner, it was his decision to run beyond the ball into the Hammers' box which paid dividends as Bukayo Saka superbly found him for what was a relatively easy assist for a relatively easy goal. If he had not made that run, however, there would be no go.
As David Moyes' side pushed for another equaliser, one moment epitomised the impact Ceballos had on the outcomes of the game. With West Ham camping outside the Arsenal box, it appeared an opening had finally been found and the ball was cut back towards the penalty spot. Sprinting across the width of the box, Ceballos ate up the ground, intercepted and won a foul in the process.Read More Related Articles Read More Related Articles
His defensive performance resulted in three tackles, four interceptions, two clearances and two blocked shots, but it was this one that was the best example of his influence on the night. Showing the persistence win that ball back so late in the game, Arteta recognised the efforts put in by the team as a whole which must be replicated over the course of the campaign.
"I had sensed that between 55 and 65 minutes that we were dropping, I could see the team dropping off, it was difficult and they were suffering,"
"They [West Ham] had a few good moments and so I tried to pick them up. In the last 20 minutes we believed more and had better focus and determination with what we were trying to do and in the end, we won the game. We are going to have games like that and with a lot of games in the calendar year, the most important thing is to find a way to win.Mikel Arteta misses key piece to Arsenal jigsaw
Ahead of kick off, it was announced that Arsenal would be without Kieran Tierney, who was left out due to a tight hip.
Sead Kolasinac came into the side on the left of the defence and although he didn't truly impress on his return, his inclusion wasn't the main issue for the Gunners down the left flank.Read More Related Articles Read More Related Articles
After the restart, Arteta has heaped trust in Ainsley Maitland-Niles as the side's left wing-back. Even when Tierney has played, the 23-year-old has been used in that position. With neither involved against West Ham, attacks were still focused down the left wing, but looked nowhere near as smooth.
Complimenting each other extremely well as a trio, Tierney, Maitland-Niles and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have found an excellent groove when attacking down the left. As a three, each of them appear to know where the other is moving and what to do accordingly, which has been clear in the goals against Manchester City [FA Cup], Liverpool [Community Shield] and Fulham [Premier League].
This was severely lacking against West Ham. Although Aubameyang and Saka connected well at times, the movement of the ball from the defensive to middle third between Kolasinac and Saka didn't work. As a result, rather than funnelling attacks down their favoured wing, Arsenal's attack looked increasingly lopsided and lacking balance. Something that cannot be said when Tierney, Maitland-Niles and Aubameyang are running the show.Bukayo Saka
Looking at Saka's performance in particular, it was one of the strangest of the night.
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His involvement in the two goals were brilliant. Firstly, finding the space in midfield and having the ability to slide through Aubameyang to assist Lacazette was exceptional. This was the case once again with his superbly weighted outside the boot clip to Ceballos for the winner.
Despite these moments of skill, his overall performance wasn't great. Aside from failing to truly connect with Kolasinac, he failed to take advantage when he was the one in dangerous positions. Blasting the ball wide, over the bar and failing to whip crosses into his strikers, it wasn't an impeccable performance, but one in which he did enough to keep the chains moving.
At this stage of his career, he isn't going to be outstanding for 90 minutes every game. However, the execution when he reached the final third had room for improvement and that is sure to come with more minutes.