It was another two points dropped for Arsenal in the Premier League title race as they let another two-goal lead slip as they drew 2-2 with West Ham United at the London Stadium on Sunday.
For months we’ve been wondering whether the Gunners have what it takes to steal Manchester City’s Premier League crown and they have largely silenced their doubters but recently they have been starting to crack. This isn’t too surprising, however, as their expectation heading into the season wouldn’t have involved pushing City all the way for the title.
Arsenal’s brief this year was to ensure they finished in the top four and qualified for the Champions League for the first time since 2016-2017. Within weeks of the campaign getting underway it looked like the north London club could perhaps achieve more than that as they have played their part in a gripping title race with Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.
The Gunners have enjoyed some excellent results and performances this term which has led to some comfortable leads at the top of the table, but now it seems like cracks are starting to show as it seems like the pressure of this unexpected title charge is getting to the Gunners’ youthful side.
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The Hammers started the game with a high intensity with some strong challenges flying around but Arsenal quickly asserted their dominance and found an early breakthrough. A nicely worked move saw Ben White pull an inviting low ball into the box for Gabriel Jesus to tap into an empty net as West Ham were undone by some poor defending.
Moments later and the hosts were left to pay for their childish defending as Gabriel Martinelli found Martin Odegaard unmarked at the back post to slot home the Gunners’ second of the match. You then got the feeling that this result could end up being a cricket score as West Ham looked completely unaware at the back
🤩 Jarrod Bowen's goal makes it 2-2 with over half an hour to go!
@WestHam_Central | #WHUARS
For a large part of the first half the visitors were in complete control and were knocking the ball around as though it were a training exercise. The momentum of the game began to change when Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey, who was already having an underwhelming game by his standards, gave the ball away to Declan Rice who slipped the ball to Lucas Paqueta and he was brought down in the box by Gabriel.
Match official David Coote immediately pointed to the penalty spot and Said Benrahma fired past Aaron Ramsdale to halve the deficit and pull his team back into the contest. The goal seemed to have a similar effect on Arsenal to when they played Liverpool last weekend as their dominance started to evaporate.
The home crowd started to have something to get behind after their appalling start and they headed into the break on the ascendency. This continued early into the second half but Arsenal were soon awarded a spot-kick for a handball from Michail Antonio. Bukayo Saka stepped up but fired wide to suggest that the Gunners were still shell shocked from their collapse at Anfield.
Within minutes of Saka missing the penalty, West Ham equalised. Jarrod Bowen caught Arsenal's offside trap out and with a looping ball into the box, the winger smashed a volley into the back of the net as the London Stadium erupted. You started to get the feeling that the Hammers could go on and win this match.
Arsenal tried to find a way back in front as the game went on but they were misplacing passes, making the wrong decisions in the final third and had to deal with some much-improved West Ham defending. The Hammers continued to grow in confidence up the pitch too. Antonio came close to putting his side ahead with a header late on Arsenal looked shaken.
The Liverpool game last weekend (where they also let a 2-0 lead slip) was concerning but this one was truly worrying - it seems as though the pressure of the title race is really getting to Mikel Arteta’s players and the four points that they’ve dropped in their last two fixtures could end up being their undoing. An eight-point lead at the summit has quickly reduced to four, with Arteta's men having still to face their title rivals at the Etihad Stadium and City also having a game in hand.