Arsenal’s strength in depth – or lack of
With a teamsheet absent of names reading Petr Cech and Laurent Koscielny, Arsenal’s defence looked like a shell, with Shkodran Mustafi looking a little lost without his centre-back partner. Gabriel does not reassure even the most positive of Gooners and Mohamed Elneny and Granit Xhaka shielding him is like using a sieve to protect yourself from the rain, at times. The all-important spine of the team really is where Arsene Wenger, should he sign that two-year deal, needs to strengthen most desperately.
Bellerin has lost his way
Hector Bellerin was considered, by some distance, the best right back in the Premier League. But it seems that as his locks have grown, his ability has wavered and his is not the defender he was last season. The foul he gave away led to Manuel Lanzini’s dangerous free kick after seven minutes could easily have dropped under the bar and his poor positioning handed him a yellow card after trying to stop a counter attack.
West Ham lack direction
With a player like Andy Carroll in your ranks and facing a team devoid of their two defensive leaders, you would think there was only one way to play for West Ham, but they didn’t do it. Carroll was dropping far too deep and sitting on Bellerin and looking to flick balls on for midfield runners, rather than putting third-choice goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez. It’s a one-dimensional and unfashionable way to play, but it surely would have had more potency, especially in the first half.
Ozil finds some urgency
After a lacklustre first half, Mesut Ozil shot into life at the start of the second period and finally looked like he was shouldering some of the responsibility he has so routinely neglected this season. He hit the post at the end of the first 45 minutes, albeit from an offside position, and got himself into another good area only to see the linesman’s flag raised. However, his goal was well taken from distance and acted as the catalyst to give Arsenal control before pulling a lovely cross back to allow Theo Walcott to double the lead.
Relegation not a threat for Arsenal, but West Ham…
In his programme notes, Wenger said it wasn’t like Arsenal were fighting off relegation, but that’s exactly what the Hammers are doing. Results going against them mean they’ve fallen to within three points of the bottom three as fellow relegation candidates picked up vital points on Wednesday night. Slaven Bilic is a man under pressure and given his recent comments about the owners he will not be sleeping too well over the next few weeks.