Nicolas Pepe inspires Arsenal comeback against West Ham as Gunners show fight for Freddie Ljungberg

first_img Comment Arsenal’s next six league matches Manchester City [H]Everton [A]Bournemouth [A]Chelsea [H]Manchester United [H]Crystal Palace [A] Sean KearnsMonday 9 Dec 2019 10:07 pmShare this article via facebookShare this article via twitterShare this article via messengerShare this with Share this article via emailShare this article via flipboardCopy link1.2kShares Nicolas Pepe inspired Arsenal’s comeback against West Ham (Picture: PA)When Freddie Ljungberg eventually gets round to watching back his first victory as Arsenal interim boss there may be chunks of it he’ll want to forget.For an hour the Gunners were as poor as they’ve been all season, no matter who has been at the helm. The passing was wayward, the tactics disjointed and the less said about the defending the better. But as the Swede will have learnt by now; it’s results that matter and what a crucial three points this was for Arsenal.The Gunners entered the match on their worst run since 1976 and with the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Everton on the horizon, it’s not far-fetched to suggest defeat could have seen them staring at the relegation places by Christmas.AdvertisementAdvertisementFor an hour, it looked like it was going that way. In an indescribably poor first half, West Ham entered the break a goal up thanks to Angelo Ogbonna’s deflected strike. The Italian reacted quickest to Pablo Fornals’ floated cross after 38 minutes and his header bounced in off Ainsley Maitland-Niles. The Hammers, who have won just one of their last nine, showed more ambition during the opening 45 minutes but it was an uninspiring half bereft of quality.ADVERTISEMENT Advertisement Ogbonna gave West Ham a half-time lead (Picture: PA)The irony is that the home side actually improved after the break and were threatening a second when Gabrielle Martinelli latched onto Sead Kolasinac’s cutback to strike the equaliser. It was the Brazilian’s seventh of the season but his first in the Premier League. A rare bright light in an otherwise depressing campaign for the Gunners. Aubameyang rounded off the victory (|Picture: Reuters)For Arsenal it was victory at last. Every single Premier League club has picked up three points since the Gunners last won against Bournemouth on October 6th. This was just their fifth win of the season and their third post-August. Though their fixtures ensure there can be no lapse in concentration, the victory gives Arsenal some breathing space and they’re now seven points above the relegation zone and into the top half.AdvertisementAdvertisementFinal score: West Ham 1-3 ArsenalMan of the Match: Nicolas PepeAttendance: 59, 936MORE: Deontay Wilder claims Anthony Joshua fight will ‘never happen’ Pepe came to life after the break (Picture: AP)Arsenal could scarcely believe they were ahead, so poorly had they played for an hour. But it got even better just three minutes later when Pepe turned provider for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to volley home to give the Gunners a two-goal lead.Just nine minutes separated the three goals and the London Stadium emptied even quicker. The empty seats made for a grim look as seven minutes injury time were announced and less than half of the 59,000 attendance were there to witness it. The Hammers travel to relegation-threatened Southampton on Saturday and there’s then 12 days before their trip to Crystal Palace on Boxing Day. You fear anything but a win for Manuel Pellegrini at St Mary’s will see him lose his job. One win in ten would test the patience of any board. Advertisement Nicolas Pepe inspires Arsenal comeback against West Ham as Gunners show fight for Freddie Ljungberg The goal shook West Ham’s confidence, which isn’t the most difficult feat at this moment in time. Suddenly, where once there was tackles, there was now space. Unimpressed with what he’d seen in the last two matches, Ljungberg made changes aplenty in east London. Alexandre Lacazette, David Luiz and Joe Willock were out, while Nicolas Pepe, Calum Chambers and most notably Martinelli came in. They were changes that many thought the Swede would make when he was first appointed, given he had spent time with the players before and would have wanted to immediately stamp his authority on the squad.Ironically, it was another of Unai Emery’s signings that got on the scoresheet next when Pepe curled home an exquisite finish with his left foot into the far left corner. It was the Ivorian’s first league goal for the club and the sense of relief was palpable as he celebrated wildly in front of the away crowd behind the goal.last_img read more