Arsenal missed out on the chance to regain top spot in the Premier League after suffering a surprise 2-0 home defeat against West Ham on Thursday.
Tomáš Souček’s first-half goal gave the visitor the lead against the run of play, before Arsenal’s misery was compounded by former defender Konstantinos Mavropanos, who rose highest from a corner to seal West Ham’s victory in the second half.
The scoreline could have been even worse for the Gunners but David Raya saved Said Benrahma’s penalty deep into stoppage time.
However, as has been the case on so many occasions this season, VAR was again a major talking point.
After reviewing the build-up to Souček’s opener, it was deemed there was no conclusive evidence to rule out the goal despite Arsenal’s claims the ball had gone out of play as Jarrod Bowen cut the ball back for his teammate.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta was far more measured in his response to the decision than he was when a similar incident occurred earlier this season that led to a Newcastle goal.
“I haven’t seen it, the only thing they are saying is that it’s not conclusive the images that they have,” he told reporters, per Arsenal.
“It’s just a shame that with the technology that we have that it’s not that clear that we can say yes that it was out or in. It’s done, it’s gone, nothing we can do about it now.”
Perhaps of much greater concern to Arteta is just how wasteful his side was against West Ham.
Arsenal dominated the vast majority of the match, registering 74% possession and 30 shots to West Ham’s six, with the Hammers’ two goals coming from just three shots on target.
In total, Arsenal had 77 touches in West Ham’s penalty area, the most in a single Premier League match for a team that failed to score, according to Opta.
“This is football,” Arteta said. “You look what we’ve done in the game, how much we generated in the game and to see the result is very disappointing, but they were better than us in both boxes.
“In football you have to do that better if you want to win, and today we haven’t won because of that and for the rest, the team kept trying and had an incredible attitude again.
“If we don’t score goals in 30 shots, we have to do 50 or 60 to try to score, it’s the only thing. I cannot imagine a game that you have more dominance, more touches in the box, less situations of the opponents against a really good West Ham side, but today wasn’t enough to win the game.”
Arsenal’s profligacy in front of goal arguably once again highlights the need for a ruthless striker, but Arteta said he’s happy with the squad of players at his disposal.
“What we have is the players that we have, it’s the players that I love the most,” Arteta said. “What we have to do is try to get better situations, and more training, put them there and raise their confidence and that’s it because they have done it.”
Arsenal’s defeat was good news for Liverpool, which stays top of the Premier League, as well as Aston Villa and Manchester City in the chasing pack.
David Moyes continues to do a stellar job as West Ham manager, with the Hammers climbing to sixth in the league, just four points off the Champions League places, alongside its ongoing Europa League campaign.
In Thursday’s other Premier League, Brighton & Hove Albion delivered an impressive performance to beat Tottenham Hotspur 4-2 in a thrilling match.