Arsenal’s season started in defeat as West Ham won their first Premier League game under Slaven Bilic. Karma, as the old saying goes, is a bit of a b-word.
When Thibaut Courtois was sent off for Chelsea against Swansea, Arsenal fans everywhere laughed, chortled and chuckled. With Petr Cech now firmly a Gooner, they seized on the chance to troll their London rivals about no longer having the Premier League winner to call upon.
Give me some old rope and I’ll find you an Arsenal season ticket.That was, as comedowns in north London go, among the most spectacular in a long list and all the more so because Petr Cech, cited by many as the finishing touch to Arsenal’s well oiled machine, did himself absolutely no favour there. Glaringly at fault for the first and complicit in a chain of errors for Zarate’s opportunistic second, his performance was a considerable factor in West Ham’s win although you have to give Slaven Bilic and his men big credit.
Yes, you do. From the first couple of minutes it was clear that they would get on the ball and get men forward when they could and, while they spent a couple of periods under the cosh, they generally played with a sense of authority that you’d have been forgiven for thinking was beyond them. Arsenal, who seemed flustered and hurried in possession, created a number of half-chances but rarely got behind a team superbly marshalled by Winston Reid and bolstered by a remarkably mature display by the 16-year-old Reece Oxford. Most of us underestimated West Ham today but the manner of their performance suggested the win was no accident.
As for Arsenal, they’ll go again at Palace next week. It’s just one defeat, just one blip in what has been a positive year, and there is plenty of time for them to go on the title charge many expect. But there will be alarm bells that, regardless of personnel, the same errors keep repeating themselves at inopportune moments. It seems systemic and needs to be cut out if they’re to get to the next level.