At this stage of the season, performances count for very little. It’s also good for Arsenal.
They stuttered, nervously, for much of that match at the London Stadium. But they won – with four games to go, absolutely nothing else matters in the Champions League pursuit of the Gunners.
But what Mikel Arteta’s team lacked in fluidity and invention, they made up for in grit and grit.
Gabriel scored the winner as Arsenal beat West Ham 2-1 to move up to fourth in the Premier League table
The Brazilian defender’s 54th-minute header was enough for Arsenal to move past Tottenham in the table
Rob Holding celebrates after scoring his first Premier League goal to put Arsenal ahead in the Premier League clash
MATCH DATA, PLAYER RATINGS AND LEAGUE TABLE
West Ham (4-2-3-1): Fabiansky 6; Coufal 7, Zouma 6.5, Cresswell 6.5, Fredericks 5.5; Noble 6.5 (Soucek 77), Rice 7.5; Benrahma 6 (Yarmolenko 81), Lanzini 6 (Antonio 71), Fornals 6.5; Bowen 7.
Subtitles: Areola, Vlasic, Diop, Masuaku, Kral, Alese.
Reserve: Creswell, Bowen
Manager: David Moyes 6.5
Arsenal (4-3-2-1): Ramsdale 6; Tomiyasu 6.5 (Cedric 77), Gabriel 7.5, Holding 7.5, Tavares 6.5; Elneny 7.5, Xhaka 6.5; Saka 7 (Smith Rowe 87), Odegaard 7 (Lokonga 90), Martinelli 7; Nketiah 6.5.
Subtitles: Leno, Lacazette, Pepe, Kirk, Oulad M’hand, Swanson.
Reserve: Saka, Nketiah
Manager: Mikel Arteta 7
Arbitrator: Mike Dean 6.5
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What do they say about winning when you don’t play well?
Pressure is mounting in the Emirates; they could so easily have cracked here against West Ham – but they didn’t.
It will mean the world for Arteta as he prepares his team for three weeks that will make or destroy their season.
They hold their own destiny in their own hands, that’s all you can ask for. Yet when the euphoria of this vital victory subsides, Arteta will be under no illusions that his side risk heartbreak if they keep playing like this.
Arsenal looked like a side paralyzed with fear at various times against the Hammers, which is perhaps understandable given what is at stake.
Perhaps the news of Tottenham’s 3-1 win over Leicester, which dropped them to fifth, earlier today shook them.
Either way, Arteta – increasingly restless in his technical field – would have expected more from his players.
But they did the job; though tumbling down the line.
Holding put Arsenal ahead in the 38th minute after a rather uneventful start to the game in east London
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta will be delighted with the result as his side take another step towards the top four
Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale celebrates after Holding’s goal put the Gunners in the ascendancy against West Ham
West Ham has much bigger fish to fry, of course. Their Europa League semi-final second leg away to Eintracht Frankfurt on Thursday night is all anyone can really think about at the London stadium right now.
Credit to David Moyes, who bravely selected a strong team minus Tomas Soucek and Michail Antonio against the Gunners despite his side’s date with a doom fast approaching.
Playing with the kind of freedom that was deserting Arsenal, the Hammers got the better of the opening exchanges.
Manuel Lanzini had his effort linked to Vladimir Coufal’s cross goal blocked by Rob Holding in the 30th minute before Declan Rice worked Aaron Ramsdale to stop his drive from the edge of the box giving West Ham the lead.
The hesitation in Arsenal’s game made sense with so much to lose before the final days of the season.
Champions League football is so close – even closer after this win – to miss it now would be soul destroying.
So you can imagine the eruption of emotion when Holding topped Lanzini to watch Bukayo Saka’s corner past Lukasz Fabianski to give Arsenal a lead they simply didn’t deserve.
After Holding put Arsenal ahead, West Ham quickly equalized as Jarrod Bowen managed to find the net
The lukewarmness of Arsenal’s display ahead of Holding’s first Premier League goal for the club – at least for a few moments – was forgotten.
A plume of yellow smoke billowed from the far end; Arsenal fans equally relieved that Arteta was on the touchline.
But make no mistake, they were lucky to be ahead. So when Bowen equalized on the stroke of half-time, Arteta could have had no complaints.
Rice’s floating pass to Coufal on the right wing was played to perfection, as was the Czech defender’s pass to Bowen.
The arrival of the England hopeful in front of Ramsdale was deadly, placing his left-footed shot with precision past the Arsenal keeper.
It’s surely only a matter of time before Gareth Southgate gives Bowen the green light.
Arteta couldn’t get his players back within the confines of the away dressing room fast enough.
Bowen’s goal saw West Ham equalize against Arsenal but the Gunners responded in the second half to win the game
Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah took on West Ham midfielder Declan Rice in the latter stages of the match
His team was in tatters – which certainly didn’t sit well with a team vying for a place in the top four.
The Arsenal manager’s half-time address – at least for the first few minutes of the second half – seemed to do little to quell his side’s evident anxiety.
Ramsdale’s 52nd-minute rush of blood to the header could so easily have had serious consequences, as the keeper rushed to meet Bowen for an unnecessary 50-50.
Bowen was eventually booked for the dive, despite reaching the ball past Ramsdale, who frantically waved his arms as he insisted no contact was made.
Nevertheless, Ramsdale was a lucky boy. A very lucky boy.
Indeed, it was the kind of stress Arteta could have done without; His team’s display was causing the Spaniard more than enough concern.
West Ham manager David Moyes has been frustrated but his side still have Europa League commitments to focus on
Eventually, however, Arsenal composed themselves to keep their Champions League dream on track.
The crucial moment came in the 55th minute, with Gabriel nodding past Gabriel Martinelli’s cross at the far post after another corner kick from Saka wreaked havoc on the home defence.
In the end, Arsenal could have extended their victory, with Eddie Nketiah coming close twice.
Moyes, even with their trip to Germany imminent, didn’t just turn around – the Scot launched Antonio and Soucek from the bench in search of an equaliser. It was a London Derby after all.
But in the end, Arsenal wanted more. They needed it more.
Recap as Sportsmail’s Jeorge Bird provided live updates on the Premier League clash between West Ham and Arsenal.