David Moyes’ West Ham United were locked in a goalless draw in East London last night with Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal, in a game that far from caught the imagination of the London Stadium faithful.
Both teams had their opportunities, but these were few and far between as the rain fell in the Capital, the home side going closest in the closing stages through Javier Hernandez.
The visitors’ biggest threat to the organised hosts’ back line was Olivier Giroud but he didn’t have his shooting boots on by a long stretch, as The North Londoners struggled to find any form of final ball.
A point apiece sees the Hammers fall worrying down to 19th position despite being level on points with Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion above, whereas, the Gunners drop to seventh place and are now closer to the foot of the Table rather than the right end.
From the start in Stratford, Irons Boss Moyes decided to go unchanged in the wake of Saturday’s London Stadium victory over Chelsea, leaving the returning Andy Carroll and Javier Hernandez on the bench one more.
The clear danger men in The Hammers Xl included the likes of forward Michail Antonio, winger Marko Arnautovic, the unorthodox Arthur Masuaku and a rejuvenated Adrian between the sticks.
Meanwhile, Wenger the Frenchman opted for four alterations from his side’s draw on the South Coast on Sunday with Southampton at the St Mary’s Stadium.
Coming into the side was England hopeful Jack Wilshere, starlet attacker Alex Iwobi, another youngster in Ainsley Maitland-Niles and France forward Olivier Giroud, they replaced injured Aaron Ramsey, Alexandre Lacazette, full-back Sead Kolasinac and veteran centre-back Pep Mertesacker.
On a bitter night in East London, the away side would get off to the better of starts, always threatening with plenty of possession, however, little in the way of chances.
Alexis Sanchez looked brightest early on, forcing Adrian into a low early save and almost finding the head of Giroud with a cross but the affair’s first real moment of note would occur at the other end.
Masuaku, advancing down the left side, was able to pick out the head of Arnautovic with his cross, the Austria man heading superbly past Petr Cech, however, the flag was up on the near side and the effort didn’t count.
Maitland-Niles was soon proving a threat to Pablo Zabaleta on the wing by getting into some promising positions to no avail, it would be a different youngster to deliver the final chunk of real drama in the first period.
Iwobi, the Nigerian International, was able to skip away from defenders and hit a racy low strike that cannoned off the post and out to safety, with that the scores would remain even at the break, despite the best efforts of Arnautovic and Antonio to change that on the counter-attack.
If the first-half was a little bereaved of clear-cut chances, the second-half followed a slightly different storyline, a frustrating one for Wenger’s men in black.
The visitors came out with more attacking impetus and were able to find a little more space in dangerous areas, the cutting edge just lacking in the final third, this was seen when Giroud was unable to head home from a great Niles ball.
Earlier, Arnautovic had gone close in the Arsenal box, getting in behind to volley a dink just over the bar, before almost converting an empty net from a similar ball although he had fouled Cech in the build-up.
There was plenty more in the way of openings for the Austrian, who could only nod wide from an Antonio cross, whilst, Mesut Ozil was set up brilliantly by a scuffed Sanchez shot, his toe-poke rolling comfortably wide of Adrian’s right-hand post.
But, the pick of all the Gunners’ chances was yet to come, arriving at the end of their best move, Niles to Giroud, the France International to Wilshere against his boyhood club.
However, the man making his first PL appearance since May 2016, wad only able to volley high into the Sir Trevor Brooking Stand, they would soon test the Spaniard between the sticks though.
After Mark Noble’s foul on Wilshere, the visitors had an excellent free-kick opportunity, Sanchez stepping up and giving Adrian a quite magnificent save to make on 73 minutes, pushing the ball out for a corner to his left.
In the dying embers of the feisty clash, the home side were able to break free from the shackles of Wenger’s side’s attacks, partly thanks to a wonderful defensive showing from Angelo Ogbonna, and create some late opportunities.
The first came from an Aaron Cresswell corner, Cech needing to punch clear, moments before what was perhaps the London Derby’s biggest chance.
With less than 60 seconds of normal time remaining, some great pressure from Lanzini forced Nacho Monreal to gif the ball to Noble, his neat pass finding substitute Chicharito in the box as he Made his return from injury.
The Mexican tried to curl his effort in the far top corner, Cech getting the faintest of touches to push it onto the bar, bouncing down on the line and going out of play, no corner was awarded, and Jon Moss soon signalled the end of play, two of London’s finest inseparable after 90 minutes.
Moyes’ boys will now look to swiftly move on from two terrific results to focus on Saturday’s League trip to The Bet 365 Stadium, before facing The Gunners once again in The Carabao Cup.
Meanwhile, Wenger’s men go up against Newcastle United at The Emirates Stadium next, what is surely a must-win for the North London side in the Top-Flight.