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West Ham 2-2 Arsenal: Saka spot-kick shocker sees momentum swing Man City´s way

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 16 Apr 2023

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Bukayo Saka’s penalty miss proved costly for Arsenal as the Premier League leaders yet again surrendered a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with West Ham.

Saka shot wide from 12 yards in the 52nd minute of Sunday’s encounter at London Stadium, with Jarrod Bowen swiftly pulling West Ham level.

Mikel Arteta’s team – who saw Manchester City defeat Leicester City 3-1 on Saturday – started brilliantly, going 2-0 up inside 10 minutes thanks to Gabriel Jesus and Martin Odegaard.

Yet Said Benrahma’s penalty saw the nerves set in, with West Ham taking advantage of Saka’s shocker as Arsenal were unable to restore their six-point lead at the top.

Arsenal looked set to canter to victory after a stunning opening 10 minutes.

Jesus tucked in at the back post following slick combination play between Ben White and Odegaard, who made it 2-0 with a cushioned volley from Gabriel Martinelli’s exquisite cross.

Yet Thomas Partey gifted West Ham a lifeline when he was robbed by Declan Rice, who fed Lucas Paqueta, with the Brazil international drawing a desperate lunge from compatriot Gabriel Magalhaes.

Having been sent the wrong way by Benrahma’s penalty, Ramsdale denied West Ham a quickfire second when he tipped over Michail Antonio’s header, with another Partey blunder having handed the Hammers a free-kick.

Antonio’s handball from Martinelli’s strike seemed destined to signal game over for West Ham, only for Saka to slice the resulting spot-kick well wide.

West Ham made Arsenal pay. Bowen capitalised on slack defending to latch onto Thilo Kehrer’s punt, with Ramsdale unable to keep out the winger’s volley.

Arsenal were saved by the woodwork late on, Antonio’s header striking the crossbar, though the title race momentum nevertheless seems to have swung City’s way.

What does it mean? Advantage City

Arsenal hold a four-point advantage, but have now squandered two-goal leads in successive games. The Gunners have a great record against West Ham – after this game, they have only lost three of their last 27 away games against the Hammers – and given the struggles of David Moyes’ team this season, Arteta would have been targeting this London derby as a chance to reassert themselves at the summit.

City, on the other hand, look menacing, with Erling Haaland firing on all cylinders. Pep Guardiola’s side have a game in hand on Arsenal, who travel to the Etihad Stadium on April 26.

For West Ham, the draw marks another step towards ensuring their Premier League status, with the gap between themselves and the bottom three now four points.

Rice leads the charge

Rice is reportedly a priority target for Arsenal, and the 24-year-old turned in a star display against his would-be suiters.

It was his tackle on Partey that sparked West Ham’s comeback. By full time, Rice led West Ham for successful passes (25 of 36 attempted), passes in the opposition half (22), touches (52), tackles, interceptions (both four) and recoveries (11).

Saka fluffs his lines as Thomas fails to come to the Partey

Saka had scored his previous two Premier League penalties this season, but got his latest attempt all wrong, drilling well off target.

Yet Partey was a standout poor performer for the visitors. The Ghana international has been supreme at the base of midfield this season, but was all at sea after he conceded possession in the build-up to West Ham’s penalty.

Key Opta Facts

– Arsenal have failed to win back-to-back Premier League games despite having a two-goal lead in each for the first time, with the Gunners the fifth side to do so in the competition.
– West Ham came from two goals down to avoid defeat in a Premier League match for the first time since drawing 3-3 at Tottenham in October 2020.
– Arsenal went 2-0 up inside the opening 10 minutes of a Premier League away game for the first time since February 2011 against Newcastle United, a game they drew 4-4.
– Saka missed a penalty for the first time in five attempts for Arsenal in all competitions (excluding shoot-outs).
– Jesus has never lost any of the 54 Premier League games in which he has scored (W49 D5), the joint-most games in which a player has scored in the competition without losing one, along with James Milner (W43 D11).

What’s next?

Arsenal are back in action on Friday against bottom club Southampton. West Ham, meanwhile, face Gent in the Europa Conference league a day earlier.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

SoccerNews

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