There was a youngster who had clearly learned from the best when he gave Arsenal a glimpse of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at his best. It’s been a year since Gabriel Martinelli came back from an injury, but this was his best all-around performance under Mikel Arteta, and he did it in a way that felt like a flashback. During the second half, Alexandre Lacazette made a clever pass through the inside-left channel, and Martinelli took a touch before putting his right foot around the ball and snaking it past Lukasz Fabianski.
Remind you of someone? Arsenal looked like they could move on from Aubameyang, who was dropped for the second game in a row. After things calmed down, they outclassed a West Ham team that was too quiet and showed that life doesn’t start and end with speculation about Mikel Arteta’s iron fist. In this case, they’re now fourth, having jumped ahead of their visitors. Even though Spurs and Manchester United have games in hand, they still have a chance to move up, but a good performance like this is the key to a long-term stay.
Arsenal has struggled to turn possession into chances at times this season, but they had 21 shots, many of which were very dangerous, and would not have been afraid of a bigger win. Could have done that if Fabianski had not saved Lacazette’s penalty after Vladimir Coufal was sent off in the 69th minute. It’s to their credit that the stand-in captain’s mistake did not throw them off course. In the last few minutes of the game, Emile Smith Rowe came on as a substitute and made a great run and finish to show off their youth. As far as markers go, this performance was just as strong as their victories over Spurs, Aston Villa, and Leicester, so it was a good one.
Only if they keep making these kinds of games will they be able to stay in the Champions League race. There is little doubt that at least some of this team will play on that stage at some point. As long as Arthur Masuaku isn’t too strong, Bukayo Saka looks like he’s at his best even though he’s not as strong as Arthur Masuaku. Ben White gave Michail Antonio a break, and Aaron Ramsdale did well when he was called on to help him out behind him. The fact that Martin degaard, who played the strings so well, could be replaced by Smith Rowe with no negative effect shows how versatile Arteta’s team is becoming.