Arsenal did just enough to get a first Premier League win under new manager Unai Emery at the third attempt. The Gunners came from behind to beat West Ham 3-1 on Saturday, with the help of a fortuitous own-goal.
“I am happy to take the points,” Emery said. “We needed to win today and to show our supporters a win. It’s clear we need to improve and continue working not to concede many chances.”
West Ham opened the scoring after Felipe Anderson and Marko Arnautovic exchanged passes down the left before Austria striker Arnautovic unleashed a 20-yard shot that beat Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech in the 25th minute.
The visitors’ lead didn’t last long after right-back Hector Bellerin broke free from West Ham’s defense and ran toward the byline. Bellerin whipped in a cross that flew by several Arsenal players right in front of goal, but the ball fell to unmarked left back Nacho Monreal who slammed it past West Ham keeper Lukasz Fabianski in the 30th.
Arsenal got some good fortune in the 70th when West Ham failed to clear the ball and Aaron Ramsey headed it back into the area. The ball fell to substitute Alexandre Lacazette whose attempted cross ricocheted off West Ham defender Issa Diop’s chest and in for an own-goal.
“Their second goal was a little lucky,” Fabianski said. “Some details can cost you the game, but we can be pleased with the performance. With a bit more work and belief in what we are doing we can improve and do better.”
It was just the bit of luck that Emery was searching for as Arsenal struggled to control the game for long stretches.
Substitute Danny Welbeck sealed the victory in stoppage time, when Bellerin found him unmarked in the area. Welbeck was able to turn and spin before he struck, with Fabianski having little chance.
Arsenal lost its first two matches this season, albeit to tough opponents Manchester City and Chelsea, and questions were already being asked if the new manager was good enough to motivate his players.
Emery is hoping his players grow accustomed to a new possession-based system, but the Gunners have had a hard time adapting after the Spaniard took over from Arsene Wenger.
Ramsey said it was a difficult match for him, since it was his first full 90 minutes this season, and for the team as a whole because Emery’s philosophy is a “new process.”
“We are progressing every game. It was open at times, but I am glad we got a win,” the Wales midfielder said. “He (Emery) wants us to press high up the pitch.”
Arsenal frequently gave the ball away as the team tried to build play from the back at Emirates Stadium.
But as soon as Arsenal went ahead, the team seemed more at ease, bounding forward with the free-flowing football of old that Arsenal used to be known for. Emery dismissed reports that Mesut Ozil was dropped because of an argument between the pair at the training ground.
“It’s untrue,” the manager said. “I don’t know who started telling you this information. He was sick yesterday.”
Emery said Ozil had a cold and that he felt better Saturday and watched the match.
West Ham slumped to a third consecutive defeat under new manager Manuel Pellegrini. There might be more bad news after Arnautovic limped off in the second half, with Pellegrini saying he picked up a muscle injury.
But Pellegrini took positives from the match, saying it was an improvement compared to the losses against Liverpool and Bournemouth.
“I am very unhappy with the result but very happy with the performance,” he said. “We need to add points. But I think in every game we’ve proved a little bit more.”