David Moyes finally ended his long wait for an away win against Arsenal as his West Ham side left the Emirates with a 2-0 victory on Thursday night.
Before Manchester City and Tottenham joined the party, the Big Four ruled English football at the start of the 21st century, consisting of Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea. All four of those teams have gone through periods of struggle, particularly Chelsea recently, but Moyes just couldn’t work out how to beat them away from home in the Premier League.
He’s managed wins in general, beating Chelsea and Man Utd in the league this season, as well as knocking Arsenal out of the EFL Cup, while you have to go back to 2021 for his last victory over Liverpool. But they all came with West Ham at the London Stadium. Even when he was in charge of Manchester United and Everton at their peak, he couldn’t do it. Until 28 December 2023, a day he will no doubt mark in his diary.
Arsenal were the hosts at the Emirates, a stadium where West Ham haven’t won since the opening day of the 2015/16 season when Slaven Bilic was in charge against Arsene Wenger. The Gunners are a team Moyes has massively struggled against overall too, with just five wins from his previous 42 meetings as a manager, one of which was that EFL Cup victory earlier this season.
There was reason for West Ham to be confident, having beaten Man Utd 2-0 at the weekend, putting the Red Devils to the sword at Old Trafford to string together back-to-back Premier League wins — although there was a 5-1 thrashing to Liverpool in the EFL Cup sandwiched in between.
Arsenal started the better of the two sides, after surviving an early shot from James Ward-Prowse, but it was West Ham who took the lead. But it wasn’t without its controversy. The goal came from a slight defensive mixup between Gabriel and Oleksandr Zinchenko which meant the ball wasn’t cleared properly, falling to Jarrod Bowen at the byline. By the view of the referee, Bowen had managed to keep the ball in, hooking it back to Tomas Soucek who finished past David Raya.
Of course, the goal was checked by VAR and there was no conclusive evidence that the ball had gone out of play — though it looked incredible tight — so they had to stay with the on-field decision.
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— Squawka (@Squawka) December 28, 2023
Conceding the opening goal might have given Arsenal fans some cause for concern, as they had failed to win their last three matches in which they had gone 1-0 down, while West Ham had won seven of the 11 previous occasions they had opened the scoring. And history repeated itself.
Arsenal peppered the West Ham goal for the remainder of the first half, going in at the break with nine shots, but only two hit the target. Things were worse come full time, with Arsenal only hitting the target with eight of their 30 efforts, and 77 touches inside the opposition box — the most on record (since 2008/09) in a single Premier League match for a team who failed to score.
It wasn’t the first time Arsenal have had 30+ shots in the Premier League and lost a game, also doing so in December 2017 when they had 33 attempts in a 3-1 defeat to Man Utd (since 2016/17). At the same time, they are just the second team since 2016/17 to have 70+ touches in the opposition and lose in the Premier League, after Man City’s 79 in their 2-1 defeat to Man Utd in December 2017.
By contrast, West Ham had just six efforts and hit the target three times, the second making it 2-0.
This time it was former Arsenal man Kostas Mavropanos whose wonderful header from a Ward-Prowse corner hit the bar and post before bouncing over the line. He refused to celebrate, but inside Moyes will have been doing backflips, knowing he was close to a special moment.
Unfortunately for West Ham, the third shot on target was a saved penalty late on as David Raya won the battle of the minds with Said Benrahma, but the win was sealed. It means that, at the 73rd time of asking, Moyes has finally won an away league game against either Chelsea, Man Utd, Liverpool or Arsenal. The record now reads 51 losses, 21 draws and one win.
But, it turns out, Moyes thought he had already won away at Arsenal.
“I though Steven Pienaar scored here in the snow for Everton, chipped the goalkeeper. I thought we won here, but I might be wrong,” he told Amazon Prime Sport.
Unfortunately for Moyes, that goal came in a 2-2 draw at the Emirates in January 2010, scored in the 81st minute to make it 2-1 to Everton, but Tomas Rosicky equalised for Arsenal in injury time.
He added: “I’ll take it anyway.”