Arsenal slumped to their first home defeat of the season in the Premier League as Tomas Soucek scored a contentious opening goal to help a well-drilled West Ham earn a 2-0 win – their first victory in the top flight at the Emirates since 2015.
Mikel Arteta’s side were denied the chance to return to the top of the table above Liverpool after VAR decided the ball was still in play when West Ham moved ahead against the run of play on 13 minutes.
An Emerson cross caused havoc in the home defence as Jarrod Bowen reacted quickest to flick the loose ball back across goal for Soucek to slam into the empty net.
A delay of three minutes was needed for referee Michael Oliver before VAR confirmed the goal after failing to find conclusive proof that it had gone out, as Bowen set up his team-mate for a fifth league goal of the season.
Despite being pressed back for large swathes of the match, West Ham sealed a memorable triumph when former Arsenal defender Konstantinos Mavropanos rose to power a header in off the bar from a James Ward-Prowse corner for his first Premier League goal on 55 minutes.
Home goalkeeper David Raya saved a penalty kick from Said Benrahma at the death after former West Ham midfielder Declan Rice had felled Emerson in injury time, but by then the three points were already on their way to East London.
David Moyes’ men move above Manchester United into sixth in the table with a third straight win, three points behind Spurs in fifth, while Arsenal remain two points behind leaders Liverpool at the halfway stage of the campaign.
Talking point: Should Soucek goal have stood?
It is difficult to make a definitive call on whether or not the ball was over the line when Bowen clipped it back into play.
Without hard evidence either way, VAR Craig Pawson was right to concur with Michael Oliver’s original decision to award the goal despite the protests of the Arsenal players and fans.
Arsenal also had a late claim for a penalty dismissed when Bukayo Saka went to ground under a challenge from the excellent Angelo Ogbonna, but again VAR decided there was not enough in the contact to award the home side a spot-kick.
More concerning for Arsenal is the chances they spurned to win the game with Saka hitting a post in the first half and Gabriel Jesus wasting two obvious headed chances in the second half to throw his side a lifeline.
Mikel Arteta’s side need to urgently find a clinical edge to their excellent passing play ahead of their trip to Fulham on Sunday.
Player of the Match – James Ward-Prowse (West Ham)
A superbly disciplined performance from Ward-Prowse as his side operated a low block that Arsenal could not cut through despite plenty of huffing and puffing.
Always aware of the danger around him in shuffling across to help out his team-mates, while remaining a real asset whenever West Ham broke at speed on the counter attack.
And added another assist to his growing tally by providing the corner for Mavropanos to clatter home the game-clinching header early in the second half.
Arsenal: Raya 7, Saliba 7, White 6, Gabriel 7, Saka 7, Odegaard 8, Jesus 6, Martinelli 6, Trossard 6, Zinchenko 6, Rice 7 Subs: Nelson 6, Nketiah 6, Smith Rowe 6
West Ham: Areola 8, Coufal 7, Ward-Prowse 9*, Paqueta 8, Kudus 8, Mavropanos 8, Alvarez 8, Bowen 8, Ogbonna 8, Soucek 8, Emerson 8 Subs: Benrahma 7
13′ GOAL FOR WEST HAM! (SOUCEK) Well, would you believe this. Tomás Soucek thumps a volley into the corner of the gaping net from the Bowen cutback. Home defence all over the show. Was that ball out? VAR will take a look. West Ham fans in party mood.
29′ BRILLIANT STOP FROM WEST HAM KEEPER Alphonse Areola throws up a left arm to claw the ball over the bar from Saka’s close-range header. Lovely play by the home side with Gabriel Jesus playing provider.
31′ BAD NEWS FOR WEST HAM HERE Looking like Lucas Paquetá has run his race for the evening. That is a bad blow for the visitors. Is it a knee injury? He limps off the pitch with Moyes forced to throw on Saïd Benrahma.
43′ SAKA HITS THE POST FOR GUNNERS! That is so unfortunate for the home side. Areola well beaten at his near post this time from the Martin Odegaard pass. How did that stay out? It somehow remains 1-0 for West Ham, who are guilty of losing possession in their own half.
55′ GOAL FOR WEST HAM! (MAVROPANOS) What a brilliant finish for West Ham as they move 2-0 clear. Ward-Prowse with a superb corner and Konstantinos Mavropanos rises to power home the ball with his header. In off the bar and 2-0 to the Hammers.
90+5′ WEST HAM HAVE A PENALTY! But Raya saves the spot kick from Said Benrahma after Rice had felled Emerson. And it will finish 2-0 to West Ham as the final whistle sounds. What a night for West Ham!
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