West Ham 1-0 Arsenal: Ozil missing as Gunners fall to rare defeat against Hammers
Photo: Getty Images - Marc Atkins

West Ham 1-0 Arsenal: Ozil missing as Gunners fall to rare defeat against Hammers

Arsenal were desperately poor as they lost to West Ham. 

Matt Dawson

A laboured Arsenal fell to a 1-0 defeat against West Ham on Saturday as Declan Rice's goal proved the difference.

It was a rare win for the Hammers over the north London side as it was just the second time in 22 meetings with Arsenal that they've come out on top. 

West Ham were full of life and thoroughly deserved their victory over a clueless looking opposition. 

The Gunners came into this game with the knowledge that they wouldn't be able to invest in January. Their performance today made that fact even more of a concern. 

Story of the game

Arsenal have been known for starting matches this season slow, so with the scores level at half time and with West Ham looking the more likely, it was a familiar scenario for the Gunners.

They struggled to get going and their ball retention was sloppy as the Hammers went close on numerous occasions in the first 45. 

There were warning signs inside the first ten minutes. Michail Antonio raced down the right and then found Mark Noble who was allowed to play a one-two with Samir Nasri before hitting a tame effort goalwards. 

Opportunities fell to Nasri himself and also Felipe Anderson. The former Arsenal man found the side netting before the half-hour mark and then turned provider for Anderson who flashed a shot just wide. 

Rice also had a brilliant chance, heading wide from a corner on the stroke of half time. 

Arsenal created half chances, with Alexandre Lacazette volleying wide and Matteo Guendouzi also firing off target but they were lacking intensity and a creative spark. 

West Ham continued where they left off in the second half and on 48 minutes broke the deadlock. Granit Xhaka's awful clearance from a corner enabled Nasri to find Rice who then picked out the top corner. It was a beautifully precise finish from the midfielder. 

The visitors continued to look laboured and despite Aaron Ramsey and Lucas Torreira's introduction struggled for creativity. 

They did have a chance through the virtually non-existent Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who couldn't find the target whilst Alex Iwobi's attempts to liven things up saw him put a shot inches wide of the far post after bursting into the area. 

Laurent Koscielny would find the net late on for Arsenal but Kolasinac was deemed offside in the build-up as the goal was ruled out.

Takeaways from the match

Ozil left out again

The story before the game had even begun was all about Mesut Ozil. The German completed a week of full training but was left out entirely from the 18 man squad that travelled to the London Stadium. This has been an ongoing saga and one that doesn't look likely to solve itself anytime soon. With no one in Arsenal colours able to dictate the play and find pockets of space, he was missed massively. 

Rice looks the part 

The West Ham midfielder was the best player on the pitch today and showed why he's become an integral part of their side. He scored his first Premier League goal, finding the net with a brilliant finish from just inside the area. But it was his defensive exploits that took the plaudits as Rice read the game intelligently and was composed on the ball throughout. 

Toothless Arsenal

Over half way into his tenure at Arsenal and Unai Emery still doesn't know his best side. With early changes again having to be made in the second half it's evident that his starting XI lacks in quality. The attack was bereft of energy and not even Ramsey's introduction could spark the necessary final ball that was missing.

There was no real reason to go with three at the back, which was the system the Gunners decided to opt with from the start whilst Torreira not playing from the off and Ozil being left out was baffling given the end result.

Arsenal's lack of funds in January has now become even more alarming. 

Nasri shows no signs of sluggishness 

Starting in the Premier League for the first time since May 2016 and after missing 2018 through a doping ban you'd be forgiven for thinking Nasri wouldn't be at the races. However, his performance was as if he hadn't been away as he put in a strong display against his old side. He showed clever feet and claimed the assist for the goal.