Arsenal 1-0 West Ham: Lacazette beats Hammers and VAR with late strike as Arteta's Arsenal eye Champions League spot

Arsenal grabbed an important, if scrappy, 1-0 victory against London rivals West Ham through a late Alexandre Lacazette goal at the Emirates on Saturday. 

Mikel Arteta's bid for a Champions League spot received a boost after VAR decided the Frenchman's 78th minute strike was valid after  deliberating whether Mesut Ozil was offside in the build up. 

The mandarins at Stockley Park eventually decreed the former Lyon striker's effort was to stand - meaning Arsenal eased to ninth in the table, but more importantly are now only three points off Chelsea in fourth spot.

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Attack fuelled first half sees both sides go close

The faithful gathered at the Emirates for the last match in north London for nearly a month. Given the relentingly grim updates on the spread of Covid-19, the gap could be far longer. 

Yet it was West Ham who started in a hurry, with a low shot from former Hull tyro Jarrod Bowen, which nearly escaped the attention of Gunners goalkeeper Bernd Leno, only to thud his near hand post. 

Many supporters had still to take their seats, when, moments later, Michail Antonio powered through a lacklustre Arsenal backline, before failing to feed a predatory Sebastien Haller in the box. 

Arteta’s side punctured the east Londoners dominance when Eddie Nketiah tested Lukasz Fabianski after he blocked a shot from Pepe as the home side began to settle.

In an attacking start from the London rivals, Leno showed bravery in diving at the feet of former Eintract Frankfurt forward Haller to quell the danger, with the resulting corner coming to nothing. 

Soktratis then thudded Fabianski’s bar after a clever dink into the box from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. While appreciation should be shown for the endeavour, questions should be asked about whether the Greek centre-back should perhaps have done better with the chance he had. 

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Lacazette breaks through valiant Hammers rearguard to give Arteta vital win

David Moyes' Irons were the more dominant force in the opening stages of the second half as the exuberant Antonio pressured the Gunners backline.

Both sides had their moments as they battled to gain the upper hand, but just as the match appeared to be heading for a goalless draw the home side broke through a valiant rearguard when Lacazette slotted.

Arsenal have had their gripes against VAR this season, but there was no-one at the Emirates who could have grumbled when the system allowed Lacazette's strike to stand. 

No wonder Arteta said afterwards he was 'happy' with VAR, also going on to add he was pleased with the result and the players unity and solidarity, because 'big teams always find a way [to win].'

With Manchester City and Brighton away in their next two league games, along with the crunch FA Cup sixth round clash at Bramall Lane before the north Londoners host Norwich City back at the Emirates in early April, the month of March will have a huge bearing on how this season is viewed come the end of the season. 

But for now, Arteta's quiet revolution gathers pace. 

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