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Rice strike enough to down the 'Gunners'

Ciara Fleming by Ciara Fleming @rfutbol - 0 5,427

Pin The young defender proved to be the derby day hero for his side. AFP
The young defender proved to be the derby day hero for his side. AFP

Rice strike enough to down the 'Gunners'

Ciara Fleming by Ciara Fleming @rfutbol - 0 5,427

An early second half strike from centre half Declan Rice, was enough for West Ham to seal braggings rights over Arsenal, in their East meets North London derby on Saturday afternoon.

In a very tame affair, one goal was all it took to take the spoils and local bragging rights. In truth, there were various opportunities for both sides to snatch a commanding victory, but a vast lack of quality and composure in the final third, ensured that a sole strike would be sufficient to take the points. 

The first half of the encounter began at a frantic pace, with both teams keen to get an early notch on the scoreline. However it was not meant to be, as the likes of Arnautovic and Aubameyang were ill afforded much service in respective penalty areas, and as such, they rushed finishes when they did have a chance to take aim at goal. 

After 25 minutes or so, the first real chance of the match would fall to former Arsenal man, Samir Nasri. However the Frenchman, clear excited at the prospect of putting his former employers to the sword once again, snatched at his shot, and the ball skewed well wide of the target. Nevertheless, the hosts were comfortable in the match, with visitors Arsenal struggling to maintain a consistent spell of pressure in the attacking third. Unai Emery's side were very much limited to pot-shots from the edge of the area, which never really looked like troubling 'Irons' stopper Lukasz Fabianski. 

As half time loomed, the hosts would have one final chance to get themselves in front in the match. A corner from Felipe Anderson was met by a strong headed effort from Declan Rice. However, as the defender had been so focused on making solid contact with the ball, he appeared to abandon any attempt of directing it, and the ball looped wide of the far post.

So, the scores would remain in deadlock at the interval.

Having played out a rather dull opening 45 minutes with their capital rivals, hosts West Ham seemed to shoot out of the blocks at the start of the second half. An early attack led to a great opportunity to lay siege to their guests' penalty area, in the form of a corner. A poor cross to the front post appeared to dispell any chance of a breakthrough from that particular opportunity, yet the ingenuity of Felipe Anderson created a secondary attack for the hosts. 

The Brazilian had the wherewithal to put another cross into the box, which caused absolute chaos in the Arsenal defence. Centre half Koscielny could only watch as the ball ricocheted off his knees and into the feet of Arnautovic. Upon seeing his own route to goal was blocked, the Austrian laid the ball off for team mate Declan Rice to take aim. Sure enough, the young defender caught the ball sweetly, sweeping it past a helpless Leno and into the back of the net. 

The London Stadium erupted into euphoria. The hosts had finally made the most of an attacking chance, and had put themselves into the lead against their capital rivals.

The remainder of the second half passed by without much incident. In spite of responding well to going behind in the contest, Arsenal were unable to muster any significant threat to the West Ham net. Midfielders Guendouzi and Iwobi went very close to an equaliser, with long and short range efforts respectively. However neither effort had been aimed accurately enough, and so keeper Fabianski remained untested.

One final moment of drama occurred in the very last moments of the match. Arsenal's Sead Kolasinac seemed to steal a share of the spoils for the visitors in the final minute of stoppage time. But it just was not the 'Gunners' day, as the header was correctly chalked off for offside. So, in surviving this late scare, West Ham hung onto all three points, to ensure that they would climb back up the Premier League table, and earn local bragging rights over their rivals. 

Overall, on the balance of play, perhaps neither side deserved to take the full quota of points on offer for the contest. A great lack of quality in the final third ensured that there was not much for either set of fans to cheer during the 90 minutes. Yet West Ham were able to muster one solid piece of finishing, and so, for that, it could be said that they had earned their victory. Arsenal will be disappointed not to take at least a point from the game, especially when you consider the chances that they did create. However, as has not been said often about Emery's side so far this season, a blunt attacking showing suggests that they were not worthy of a share of the spoils.

Ciara Fleming

Ciara Fleming

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