EPL

Arsenal denied a return to Premier League summit as they are beaten by West Ham

By Sports Desk December 28, 2023

Arsenal missed the chance to return to the top of the Premier League as they slipped to a disappointing defeat to West Ham amid more VAR controversy.

The Gunners needed victory to replace Liverpool at the summit but lost 2-0 by the Hammers on a night where David Moyes finally landed a victory at the Emirates Stadium.

His West Ham side lost Kurt Zouma ahead of the game and Lucas Paqueta after just over half an hour but hit the front through Tomas Soucek’s strike, awarded after VAR could not determine whether the whole ball had gone out of play in the build-up.

A second-half header from former Arsenal defender Konstantinos Mavropanos secured the points and things could have been even better for the visitors had Said Benrahma not seen a last-gasp penalty saved by David Raya.

Moyes had failed to secure victory in his previous 72 Premier League away games at Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool or Manchester United, so this was a long time coming for the Scot.

Arsenal laboured when they needed to continue their recent winning run in London derbies to go back to the top of the table.

Instead, only captain Martin Odegaard could hold his head high on a night where their defence creaked and Gabriel Jesus was guilty of missing a couple of very good chances.

Arsenal started well, with some great touches in and around the West Ham box from Odegaard in particular.

But at the other end their defending left a lot to be desired, as Oleksandr Zinchenko and Gabriel Magalhaes failed to deal with a simple ball into the middle.

Jarrod Bowen capitalised by latching onto the miscue and teed up Soucek to finish – the goal surviving a lengthy VAR check which could not ultimately make a call on if the ball had not gone out of play before Bowen’s cutback.

Arsenal looked to respond although the goal gave West Ham something to defend, although Jesus found a way in behind with a subtle flick into Bukayo Saka, whose header was brilliantly saved by Alphonse Areola.

Paqueta had been hurt in the warm-up and lasted just over half an hour, with his fellow Brazilian Gabriel Martinelli curling an effort just wide for Arsenal as they continued in vain to find a leveller.

The hosts were getting closer, West Ham gifting possession as two passes saw Arsenal in on goal once more, this time Saka hitting the base of the post from an acute angle.

Former West Ham captain Declan Rice fired just over from 25 yards but it was another player coming back to haunt his former club who would find the back of the net soon after.

Mavropanos made just seven league starts in three years as an Arsenal player but returned to the Premier League last summer with the Hammers and headed them two goals ahead before the hour.

Jesus then headed straight at Areola before sending another fine chance well over the bar moments after Arteta introduced Eddie Nketiah and Reiss Nelson off the bench.

Areola was on hand again to keep out a Leandro Trossard effort, with Vladimir Coufal clearing a William Saliba header off the line from the resulting corner.

Rice had come off the bench during a 3-0 Carabao Cup defeat on his return to West Ham earlier in the season and endured another night to forget here as he conceded a late penalty for tripping Emerson Palmieri in the box – only for Raya to keep out substitute Benrahma’s tame spot-kick.

Related items

  • Haaland out of Brighton clash, confirms Man City boss Guardiola Haaland out of Brighton clash, confirms Man City boss Guardiola

    Manchester City will be without Erling Haaland when they take on Brighton, Pep Guardiola has confirmed.

    Haaland missed Saturday's FA Cup semi-final victory over Chelsea with a muscular injury he sustained against Real Madrid last week.

    And the issue will also see the striker, who has scored 20 Premier League goals this season, miss out against the Seagulls on Thursday.

    "Erling is not ready for tomorrow," said Guardiola, who added that City will be able to call on Phil Foden and John Stones.

    "It's not a big issue but he's not available."

    Haaland has scored, on average, every 109 minutes in the league this season.

    However, the Norwegian has actually underperformed his expected goals (xG) of 23.7.

    He has also chipped in with five assists, giving him an overall goal contributions tally of 25. Haaland has created 28 goalscoring chances for team-mates across the campaign.

    After Arsenal's 5-0 thrashing of Chelsea on Tuesday, reigning Premier League champions Manchester City sit four points off the summit in third place, albeit with two games in hand.

    Second-place Liverpool will aim to move level on points with the Gunners by beating Merseyside rivals Everton on Wednesday.

  • Liverpool line up Feyenoord coach Slot as Klopp replacement Liverpool line up Feyenoord coach Slot as Klopp replacement

    Arne Slot appears to be at the front of the queue to replace Jurgen Klopp as Liverpool manager.

    Klopp confirmed in January that he would be leaving the Reds at the end of the season.

    Xabi Alonso, who has led Bayer Leverkusen to their first Bundesliga title, was swiftly established as a leading candidate to take the helm at Anfield, where he starred as a player for the Reds between 2004 and 2009.

    The 42-year-old, however, is staying put in Germany, and Liverpool's search for Klopp's successor has taken them to Feyenoord's door.

    Slot has been previously linked to jobs in the Premier League. Leeds United wanted to appoint him last season before their relegation to the Championship, while he was targeted by Tottenham before they appointed Ange Postecoglou.

    The Dutchman intimated when linked with Spurs: "A normal next step would be to go abroad and I've always said that the best league in the world is the Premier League."

    Ideally, Liverpool will be aiming for a coach who can come close to replicating Klopp's style of play, and in particular has a flair for working with and developing young players.

    Slot has enjoyed fantastic success in Rotterdam. He became Feyenoord head coach in December 2022, after leaving AZ, and went on to win the Eredivisie title in 2022-23, having reached the Europa League final in the previous season.

    The 45-year-old has a 64.4 per cent win record from 146 games in charge, winning 94, drawing 29 and losing just 23.

    His Feyenoord team have scored 329 goals, an average of 2.2 per match, conceding 147 in return. Slot's points per game is a hugely impressive 2.13.

    Feyenoord are, though, set to relinquish their Eredivisie crown, as they trail leaders PSV by nine points. They have, however, won the KNVB Cup this term. 

    As there is no break clause in the Dutchman's contract, it has been reported that a compensation fee in the region of €10million (£8.5m) could prise him away from Feyenoord.

    Sporting CP boss Ruben Amorim is another coach who has been heavily linked with the Liverpool job, albeit he is reportedly in talks with West Ham.

  • Allegri says Juventus are victims of own success after clinching Coppa Italia final berth Allegri says Juventus are victims of own success after clinching Coppa Italia final berth

    Massimiliano Allegri declared Juventus have been victims of their own success this season after watching his Bianconeri side eliminate Lazio to reach the Coppa Italia final on Tuesday. 

    Juventus took a 2-0 lead into Tuesday's semi-final second leg at Stadio Olimpico but saw that advantage wiped out when Valentin Castellanos scored either side of half-time.

    However, a late strike from Arkadiusz Milik handed Juventus a 3-2 aggregate success and ensured they will appear in their eighth Coppa Italia final in the last 10 years.

    Despite Juventus having a chance to lift their first major trophy since 2021 and being on course for a return to the Champions League, Allegri has continued to be criticised by sections of the media.

    He believes Tuesday's achievement should be celebrated, however, saying: "It's never easy to reach a final, in the last three years we have played two Coppa Italia finals. 

    "Now we must concentrate on Serie A, as we have not yet achieved Champions League qualification and this weekend it's the head-to-head with Milan."

    Juventus sit third in Serie A ahead of Saturday's home clash with the Rossoneri, and with Italy guaranteed five Champions League places for next season, they are almost certain to be back among Europe's elite in 2024-25.

    However, Juventus' drop-off in the second half of the season has led to continued speculation regarding Allegri's future.

    At the turn of the year, Juventus were just two points behind Inter at the top of the table, but the Nerazzurri are now 22 points clear of their rivals and have clinched the Scudetto with five games to spare.

    Allegri believes a fine start to the season gave rise to unreasonable expectations in Turin, adding: "This final is also worth Supercoppa Italiana qualification, so that is important financially. 

    "Criticism will always be around Juventus, but it's our own fault for having a great first half to the season that nobody was expecting. 

    "At that point, people thought we could fight it out with Inter, but I was worried that we could have difficulties in the second half. We had a big advantage and mentally rather let go."

    Juventus will face either Atalanta or Fiorentina in next month's final, with the Viola holding a 1-0 lead in the other semi-final tie ahead of Wednesday's second leg in Bergamo. 

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.