Football News

Arsenal capitalise on Dawson and Soucek absences to beat West Ham in aerial masterclass

By Ben Green

Published: 18:33, 1 May 2022

Arsenal regained their position in the Premier League top four after beating West Ham 2-1 at the London Stadium, with the goals coming from unlikely sources.

Tottenham had thrown down the gauntlet earlier in the day after battering a heavily-rotated Leicester City 3-1 in north London, climbing into the Champions League places as a result, but the Gunners responded across the M25 to reclaim their position.

Rob Holding broke the deadlock at the London Stadium after evading marker Manuel Lanzini to nod home a glancing header, leading to bemusement from pundits and social commentators alike as to why the 5ft 6in playmaker was marking Arsenal’s 6ft 2in centre-back.

Holding was only drafted in after Ben White was rendered unavailable with a hamstring injury, and he duly vindicated his starting berth after coming in, scoring, and helping the Gunners on their way to three crucial points with some very composed rearguard action.

That finish actually turned out to be the first of his Premier League career as he opens his account at a crucial juncture in the season, with Tottenham heavily breathing down the necks of Mikel Arteta’s men. It was also only the second goal of his Arsenal career.

Jarrod Bowen restored parity just before half-time, but that equaliser wouldn’t last long as Gabriel got Arsenal’s noses back in front less than 10 minutes from the restart, heading home at the back post after Gabriel Martinelli picked him out with a laser-guided cross.

Where Holding netted the first Premier League goal of his career, Gabriel brought up his fourth of the season, which is more than any other centre-back in the division across 2021/22, moving level with Southampton’s Jan Bednarek.

Not renowned for their aerial prowess, this is only the second time Arsenal have scored two headed goals in a Premier League game this term, also doing so in a 3-0 win over Southampton in December, with Arteta firmly capitalising on West Ham’s uncharacteristically shoddy form from the air.

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That can largely be attributed to the absences of Tomas Soucek — who started on the bench and only came on when Arsenal were 2-1 up — and Craig Dawson, unavailable after collecting a straight red card against Chelsea last weekend.

So, the Gunners are back in that coveted fourth position, two points ahead of bitter rivals Spurs with four games to go, placing a huge emphasis on the North London Derby at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in less than two weeks’ time.