Arsenal – West Ham United: Arsenal Fight Back For A London Derby Win On Boxing Day (3-1)
After over five weeks away due to the World Cup, the Premier League was back on Boxing Day, and so were the league leaders Arsenal. They marked their return to competitive action by hosting West Ham United for a London derby. They needed to come back from behind to win but did so very convincingly in the end.
Tactical analysis and match report by Neel Shelat.
The process was finally yielding rewards for Arsenal. After continuing to fail to finish in the top four in Mikel Arteta’s first couple of seasons, the Emirates Stadium was fully united behind the team as they put together a title charge for the first time in seven seasons. Last time, their main rivals were the unlikely underdogs Leicester City, but this time they were up against the relentless Manchester City, so slip-ups were near unaffordable.
Their opponents West Ham would not have been expecting to be where they were in the table, but they were at the wrong end of it. After back-to-back finishes in European spots in the last two seasons, they found themselves just a point clear of the relegation zone in the World Cup break. Their underlying numbers suggested that they did not deserve to be as low as they were, but it was time to start getting results now.
Arsenal named a near full-strength lineup so Aaron Ramsdale started in goal behind a back line of Benjamin White, Gabriel Magalhães, William Saliba and Kieran Tierney. Thomas Partey was joined by captain Martin Ødegaard and Granit Xhaka in midfield. Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli started on the wings, whilst the injury-enforced absence of Gabriel Jesus meant that Eddie Nketiah got . . .