Arsenal

Arsenal

Premier League • England

Player ratings: Arsenal captain candidate shines bright in win as West Ham star endures torrid evening

Jonny Whitfield
Gabriel Martinelli, Arsenal v West Ham December 2021

Alexandre Lacazette put in a fantastic performance as captain for the evening to help Arsenal beat West Ham 2-0 in the Premier League.

A quiet first half livened up and a goal was the only missing ingredient. Indeed, the number of shots and chances grew as the half wore on.

Mikel Arteta‘s men started the second half just as they ended the first and Gabriel Martinelli opened the scoring after 47 minutes.

West Ham’s situation got worse when Vladimir Coufal received a second yellow card and gave a penalty. However, Lukasz Fabianski offered the visitors a reprieve by saving Lacazette’s effort.

In the end, though, substitute Emile Smith Rowe finished the Hammers off late on and the result means Arsenal moved into the top four ahead of West Ham, while also moving to a positive goal difference.

As for who stood out, Lacazette was excellent alongside Saka. In fact, all four of Arsenal’s attacking quartet impressed. At the other end, the Gunners could have won by more were it not for Fabianski and Craig Dawson. Coufal, though, was a concern defensively.

Arsenal

Aaron Ramsdale: Had little to do in the first half but wanted a free-kick for West Ham pressure while he was trying to punch a corner clear. In the second half, tipped a Jarrod Bowen shot away before keeping Michail Antonio at bay. 7/10.

Takehiro Tomiyasu: Almost got his head to an early free-kick, while his passing from right to left was crisp. Kept Arsenal going down the right in the second half. 6.

Ben White: Quiet early on but won the first of his battles with Antonio. More good defending when required, especially from corners. 7.

Gabriel: Did not have much to do for the first 45 minutes, but his passing was good when required. Grew into the game with more defensive contributions and volleyed wide from a corner. 7.

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Kieran Tierney: Attacked when he could in the first half – including a dangerous long-range shot – but impressed more in heading clear and cutting out passes. Improved in the second half, sending in two great crosses. 6.

Bukayo Saka: Arsenal’s best player in the first half. Pressed well in the opening stages and grew further into the game with passes to control the tempo and great control of the ball, as well as dangerous runs. Just as much of a threat after the break 9.

Thomas Partey: Steady in the midfield, both winning fouls but giving them away. Got forward more in the second half and had a shot blocked. 6.

Thomas Partey during Arsenal v West Ham, December 2021

Granit Xhaka: Struck a free-kick straight into the wall, had a shot from open play blocked and his passing also sometimes went astray. Had a similarly mixed second half, heading one West Ham advance away before being caught wanting too much time on the ball. 5.

Gabriel Martinelli: Won the ball back well and, later in the first half, set Lacazette up for a chance and almost scored with a rebound. Got his goal in the second half with a great run and fine finish. 8.


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Martin Odegaard: Technically very good with some nice flicks, touches and passes to link Arsenal’s attacks. 8.

Alexandre Lacazette: Very strong performance alongside Saka as the captain for the evening. Led the press from the front, kept the attack flowing with touches and flicks and marshalled his team-mates when they were in possession. Forced a Fabianski save with a shot. In the second half, dropped off well and then his cute pass set Martinelli’s opener up. 9 – Man of the Match.

Substitutes:

Emile Smith Rowe (on for Odegaard, 66): Had a shot saved by Fabianski but broke away well and hit a fine, low finish past the goalkeeper to seal the Gunners’ win. 7.

Eddie Nketiah (on for Martinelli, 82): Looked lively but did not have much effect on the game. 5.

Nuno Tavares (on for Lacazette, 89): N/A.


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West Ham

Lukasz Fabianski: A poor start saw him take risks on the ball and he struggled to deal with Arsenal’s pressing. However, he recovered to tip a long-range Tierney shot onto the bar and then saved Lacazette’s penalty. 7.

Vladimir Coufal: Quiet on the right of West Ham’s defence as Arsenal exploited the Saka-Masuaku battle, but did not have much success dealing with Tierney and got a yellow card. Could have been better positioned to anticipate Martinelli’s run for the goal and then got a second yellow after a challenge on Lacazette. 3.

Craig Dawson: Stood tall to deal well with Arsenal’s front quartet in the first half. Caught out by Martinelli’s speed for the opening goal and then lost out in three successive battles with Lacazette. 6.

Craig Dawson, Alexandre Lacazette Arsenal v West Ham December 2021

Issa Diop: Struggled early on with his passing but got some key blocks in, especially as Martinelli raced onto a potential rebound from Fabianski’s save. 5.

Arthur Masuaku: Struggled to deal with Arsenal’s press and especially Saka, as team-mates tracked back to help him. 3.

Tomas Soucek: Like Diop, he made some key blocks while he also cleared a header away from Lacazette. Nutmegged by Martinelli as Arsenal put the pressure on shortly after the interval. 5.

Declan Rice: Made three clearances in the first 15 minutes and played some nice passes in his own half and into the Arsenal box. Arsenal eventually got the better of him in the second half, though. 5.

Jarrod Bowen: Very quiet down the right of West Ham’s attack in the first half. Similarly quiet after the break, bar his shot being tipped away and another flashing past the near post. 4.

Manuel Lanzini: Had a lot of touches in the midfield battle, a battle that – in the first half – was lost against Arsenal’s pressing. 5.

Pablo Fornals: Curled a shot from the left edge of the area just round the post in the first half. Asked by Hammers boss David Moyes to track back and help Masuaku deal with Saka. 5.

Michail Antonio: Ineffective in the first half. On the two rare occasions he got hold of the ball and held it up or advanced forward, his passing let him down. Struggled after the break. 4.

Substitutes:

Said Benrahma (on for Lanzini, 77): Tried to get forward but could not add much to the game. 5.

Ashby Harrison (on for Fornals, 84): N/A.