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Arsenal break unwanted Premier League record in West Ham United defeat

Arsenal break unwanted Premier League record in West Ham United defeat

Arsenal break an unwanted Premier League record in their 2-0 home defeat to London rivals West Ham United at the Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal etched their name into an unwanted chapter of Premier League history during their 2-0 defeat to London rivals West Ham United at the Emirates Stadium.

Owing to Liverpool’s 2-0 success over Burnley on Boxing Day, which saw the Reds establish up a two-point lead at the top, only a win would have sufficed for Mikel Arteta‘s side if they were to return to the summit of the standings.

The Gunners welcomed West Ham to their Emirates headquarters having gone unbeaten in their first nine top-flight home games of the new term – winning seven in a row across all tournaments in front of their own fans – but they produced an uncharacteristically lacklustre display on Thursday.

Goals from Tomas Soucek and former Arsenal defender Dinos Mavropanos saw David Moyes claim his first-ever managerial away win against the Gunners at the 23rd attempt, and the hosts’ evening could have become even more chastening had David Raya not kept out an injury-time Said Benrahma penalty.

West Ham spent the vast majority of the match camped inside their own half, but the Irons’ defensive display was exceptional, as Arsenal had 77 touches in the West Ham penalty box without finding the back of the net.

Arsenal's Declan Rice reacts after conceding their first goal on December 28, 2023© Reuters

Since data became available at the start of the 2008-09 season, no Premier League team has had more touches in the penalty area in a single game without scoring, and Arteta conceded that West Ham were simply superior in both boxes on the night.

Speaking in his post-game press conference, as quoted by football.london, Arteta said: “When you look at how much we generated in the game, to see the result is very disappointing. But they were better than us in both boxes.

“They had two shots, – with the penalty three. We had 30, I don’t know how many touches in the box, how many situations, how many opportunities to score and we haven’t done it. In football you have to do that better if you want to win. Today we haven’t won because of that.

“If we don’t score with 30 shots, then we have to do 50 or 60 to try to score. That’s the only thing. I can’t imagine a game where we have more touches in the box, more dominance and less situations for the opponent against a really good West Ham side. Today, though, it wasn’t enough to win the game.”

A thick cloud of controversy overshadowed the visitors’ opener, though, as Soucek finished from close range after the linesman on the far side deemed that Jarrod Bowen had just about prevented the ball from going behind for a goal kick.

The VAR team spent a couple of minutes perusing all available angles, but there was no conclusive evidence that the ball had gone out of play given that Bowen’s body was blocking the best view, and the goal stood.

West Ham United's Konstantinos Mavropanos celebrates scoring their second goal on December 28, 2023© Reuters

Bukayo Saka led the Arsenal charge in the remainder of the first half, forcing Alphonse Areola into an acrobatic save from a header before hitting the post and seeing the rebound bounce off Leandro Trossard and behind.

With just 10 minutes gone in the second half, Mavropanos peeled away from Oleksandr Zinchenko to meet a James Ward-Prowse corner, and a stranded Raya could only watch the Greek’s header deflect off the bar and post on its way in.

Asked about Soucek’s contentious opener, which bore a resemblance to Anthony Gordon‘s winner for Newcastle United last month, Arteta held himself back from launching into another scathing rant akin to his St James’ Park tirade.

“I haven’t seen it. They’re saying it’s not conclusive. It’s a shame that with the technology that we have, that it’s not that clear so that we can say whether it’s out or in. It’s done. It’s gone. There’s nothing we can do about it now,” Arteta responded.

“If the technology we have at the moment is not good enough to give us that answer, what we have to do is without that win the game. With the number of situations we generated in the game, that should have been more than enough.”

Arsenal have one final chance to end 2023 on a positive note when they head to Craven Cottage to meet Fulham in another London derby on New Year’s Eve.

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