Ar­se­nal’s worst win­less streak in 42 years halted at West Ham

Muscat Daily - - SPORTS -

Lon­don, UK - Ar­se­nal care­taker man­ager Fred­die Ljung­berg be­lieves a weight has been lifted off his play­ers' shoul­ders af­ter a three-goal blitz in nine sec­ond-half min­utes beat West Ham 3-1 in an English Premier League (EPL) on Mon­day to end the Gun­ners' worst win­less run in 42 years.

An­other mis­er­able night for the Swede seemed in store when the vis­i­tors trailed at half-time to An­gelo Og­bonna's de­flected header.

How­ever, Ar­se­nal sud­denly sparked into life af­ter Gabriel Martinelli scored his first EPL goal as Ni­co­las Pepe fi­nally started to de­liver on his club record US$94.8mn fee by curl­ing home a bril­liant sec­ond, be­fore crossing for Pierre-Em­er­ick Aubameyang to se­cure all three points.

"It means so much for the play­ers. They have been liv­ing un­der enor­mous pres­sure and you see it in their per­for­mances," said Ljung­berg.

"You can see the play­ers have been a bit low and you see in the dress­ing room the re­lief and how happy they are."

A first win in ten games in all com­pe­ti­tions lifts Ar­se­nal up to ninth and cuts the gap on fourth-placed Chelsea to seven points in the bat­tle for Cham­pi­ons League qual­i­fi­ca­tion next sea­son.

Ljung­berg re­acted to tak­ing just one point from his open­ing two games in tem­po­rary charge against lowly Nor­wich and Brighton by mak­ing five changes with Martinelli and Pepe among those com­ing into the side.

Pepe's in­abil­ity to make an im­pact has been one of the ma­jor rea­sons for Ar­se­nal's strug­gles, but the Ivo­rian looked a new player af­ter curl­ing home his first EPL goal from open play 24 min­utes from time.

"Ni­co­las is an amaz­ing foot­ball player, but it is not easy to come from the French league into the Premier League and ad­just straight away," added Ljung­berg.

"It was an amaz­ing goal and he'll get bet­ter and bet­ter."

Not much had im­proved in Ljung­berg's first two games since re­plac­ing the sacked Unai Emery and it was the same tame and life­less Ar­se­nal for the first hour against a West Ham side that has won just once in its last 11 games.

"I think we dom­i­nated the game for 60 min­utes and af­ter that in ten min­utes we lose the game," said West Ham man­ager Manuel Pel­le­grini, who is un­der in­creas­ing pres­sure as his side sits just one point above the rel­e­ga­tion zone.

An­other home de­feat means the Ham­mers have taken just one point from their last five games at the Lon­don Sta­dium and the home side was booed off at full-time.

"You un­der­stand the boos be­cause the last five games we played here we didn't win," added Pel­le­grini. "You can­not con­cede three goals in ev­ery game."

In a first half of pre­cious lit­tle good foot­ball it was fit­ting the opener ar­rived in scrappy fash­ion as Og­bonna's at­tempted header came off his shoul­der and de­flected off Martinelli to wrong-foot Bernd Leno in the Ar­se­nal goal.

But one mo­ment changed the course of the game when Sead Ko­lasinac burst down the left and crossed low for Martinelli to slot home his eighth goal of the sea­son af­ter im­press­ing in the League Cup and Europa League.

Sud­denly the con­fi­dence which Emery and Ljung­berg be­moaned had drained away from their play­ers in re­cent times was re­stored, none more so than in Pepe, who cut in­side onto his favoured left foot and curled into the top cor­ner.

Pepe then turned provider for Aubameyang to slide in for his 13th goal of the cam­paign.

(AFP)

Ar­se­nal's striker Pierre-Em­er­ick Aubameyang (left) scores against West Ham dur­ing the English Premier League match on Mon­day night

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