Alexandre Lacazette’s 82nd-minute header completed a remarkable Arsenal comeback as West Ham surrendered a three-goal lead to draw 3-3 in a breathless encounter at the London Stadium.
The Hammers raced into what seemed an unassailable advantage after Jesse Lingard’s opener (15) was added to by Jarrod Bowen (17) and Tomas Soucek (32).
But Lacazette played his part in beginning the sensational response by the Gunners when his shot deflected in off Soucek (38), before another own goal from Craig Dawson further reduced the deficit (61). West Ham were crestfallen when Lacazette met Nicolas Pepe’s cross to secure a share of the spoils.
This will feel like a defeat for David Moyes’ side having been in such a commanding position, but his team remain in fifth place on 49 points, two adrift of Chelsea in the final Champions League place. The result moves Arsenal into ninth ahead of Aston Villa’s game with Tottenham later on Super Sunday.
West Ham: Fabianski (6), Coufal (7), Dawson (6), Diop (6), Cresswell (6), Soucek (6), Rice (7), Bowen (7), Lingard (8), Benrahma (7), Antonio (6).
Subs: Noble (n/a), Fredericks (n/a).
Arsenal: Leno (6), Chambers (8), Luiz (7), Pablo Mari (6), Tierney (6), Partey (6), Xhaka (5), Saka (6), Odegaard (8), Aubameyang (5), Lacazette (8).
Subs: Pepe (7), Smith Rowe (6), Martinelli (n/a).
Man of the match: Calum Chambers.
Man of the Match – @Arsenal's Calum Chambers:
Most clearances (6)
Most crosses (8)
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) March 21, 2021
Sky Sports’ Jamie Carragher:
“I’m going for Calum Chambers. If you look at the Arsenal team, and why he is in the team, you would have thought it would have been to cope with West Ham at set-pieces.
“You don’t think he’s going to offer too much to the Arsenal attack, but without him they wouldn’t have been able to get back into this game.”
On Chambers’ performance, Arteta said: “He was really good, he has been training really well. He gives us something else, some height in the back line and he was busy in the final third as well. A really good performance.”
How Arsenal fought back in thriller
West Ham had won just three of their previous 24 Premier League home games against Arsenal, but they started the day five places above their opponents in the table and dominated the opening half an hour.
Mikel Arteta had spoken of wanting his Arsenal side to return to the standards he has set for them after underperforming in Thursday’s 1-0 Europa League defeat to Olympiakos, but they deservedly went behind after 15 minutes when Lingard rifled in Michail Antonio’s cutback.
Ninety-eight seconds later, Arsenal fell further behind in comical circumstances. Bukayo Saka fouled Antonio on the edge of the penalty area, but, as the Gunners turned their backs in preparation for the set-piece, the razor-sharp Lingard played a quick free-kick into the path of Bowen, who beat Bernd Leno at his near post.
Arteta felt obliged to change something as Saka and the ineffectual Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang switched flanks, but he witnessed his team concede for a third time as Soucek (32) pounced to direct Antonio’s header from Vladimir Coufal’s cross into the bottom corner, with replays showing the Czech was marginally onside.
It was the earliest from the start of a Premier League match that West Ham had scored three goals since May 2007 against Bolton.
But Arsenal were handed a lifeline just five minutes later as Calum Chambers was played down the right and his cross was controlled and fired emphatically past Lukasz Fabianski by Lacazette, via a significant deflection off Soucek.
West Ham welcomed back Jesse Lingard for the home game against Arsenal. The on-loan England winger was ineligible to face parent club Manchester United last time out. Lingard joined Michail Antonio, Jarrod Bowen and Said Benrahma in an attacking line-up.
Pablo Mari, Bukayo Saka and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang started for Arsenal as Cedric Soares, Emile Smith Rowe and Gabriel dropped out.
Moyes’ side had scored with all three of their shots on target during the opening period but there were signs of the momentum shifting in Arsenal’s favour before the restart.
Within two minutes of the second half, the Gunners came within a whisker of a second as Lacazette took in Chambers’ cultured pass to lift his shot over Fabianski but Issa Diop managed to hook the ball off the line.
The Frenchman was growing in influence as he then turned provider moments later for Saka, who was released through on goal but Fabianski smothered his low shot.
Arsenal began sluggishly and got worse before they staged the comeback
Sky Sports’ Jamie Carragher said on co-commentary: “The change in intensity is stark compared to what we saw in that first half. Arsenal looked like they were in bed in that first half. West Ham have got in that same bed in this second half.”
By the hour-mark, the deficit was reduced to one as Arsenal forced a second own goal. This one was far more clear-cut, as West Ham were this time picked off by a quick free-kick. Lacazette worked it inside to Martin Odegaard, who played in Chambers on the overlap and his low cross was crashed beyond Fabianski by the sliding Dawson for his second own goal in as many games.
West Ham came within inches of restoring their two-goal lead as Lingard’s pass was flicked on by Antonio into the path of Bowen, who only had Leno to beat but Kieran Tierney recovered to produce a crucial block.
The best form of defence was to attack for the hosts, and they missed a glaring chance to put the game to bed when Antonio struck the post with the goal at his mercy following brilliant work by Said Benrahma. His cross-shot fell to the stretching forward but he could only divert the ball onto the woodwork from close range.
By now, Arteta had hauled off Aubameyang despite needing a goal as Emile Smith Rowe and Pepe were summoned, and it was the latter who unlocked West Ham for a third time to complete the spirited fightback.
Odegaard was involved once more as he found Pepe down the right, and, on his weaker foot, his cross was headed home at the far post by Lacazette.
3 – This was the third Premier League game this season in which a team has led by 3+ goals and failed to win (also West Brom 3-3 Chelsea and Tottenham 3-3 West Ham); the only other Premier League campaign to see three such instances is 2010-11. Comebacks. pic.twitter.com/EL0YNha8Fy
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 21, 2021
David Moyes was disappointed that West Ham surrendered a three goal lead to Arsenal but said that the draw still shows that the Hammers can compete with the best teams in the league.
West Ham boss David Moyes: “It was a really good game, tough, lots of goals. We played very well especially in the opening 30 minutes and unfortunately we gave them a goal before half time, which gave Arsenal a foot up.
“There was a lot of frustration throughout the game about the decisions, but that’s the way football goes sometimes.
“We played very well for long periods, Arsenal played well but are in good form, it wasn’t a great result after going 3-0 up but we showed we are up there competing with the best teams.
“It has been a long time since we finished above Arsenal, we have done our best to make sure they can’t catch us. Now we want more, I’m greedy and they are devastated in the dressing room at not taking three points.”
Mikel Arteta was furious with Arsenal’s first half performance against West Ham which saw them concede three goals which Arteta labelled as unacceptable.
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta: “I’m very disappointed because I cannot accept my team to play the way we did in periods in the first half. I expect we play at the level we did afterwards.
“The first goal, it can happen. It is a really good combination [by West Ham]. That is fine. The way we concede the second and third is unacceptable. Afterwards the attitude and togetherness we showed – it is really difficult to do what we have done. We got really close to winning and I think we deserved to win it but the first part really worried me.”
On switching off at a set-piece: “Unacceptable. We talk about that all the time. I don’t know if it’s a hangover from Europe, tired, focus, it was more than one player that switched off. We have to right that quick.”
Player reaction: ‘Mixed feelings but sense of pride’
Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette to Sky Sports:
“My feeling is mixed between being proud of the team for the comeback. We didn’t respect the game plan from the coach [in the first half].
“We had the pressure, we knew it was a big game. We have to work a lot to be ready for the end of the season.
“It is really complicated, this kind of game, we need to work a lot. We knew even after the bad first half we could come back and score more.”
Analysis: ‘Arsenal must find consistency’
Jamie Redknapp described Arsenal’s defending for West Ham’s second goal as ‘abject’, while Paul Merson said the performance was ‘unacceptable’.
Sky Sports’ Paul Merson:
“That was Arsenal’s season summed up in 90 minutes.
“It’s so inconsistent. One minute they are poor and the next minute they are great, and that’s not good enough. If you want to be a successful football team, you’ve got to be consistent but at the moment it is like a rollercoaster.
“Mikel Arteta has got to sort that out if they are going to be successful next season.”
Arsenal rise from the dead – Opta stats
- West Ham failed to win after being three goals ahead in a Premier League game for the first time since September 1998 (3-4 v Wimbledon). Arsenal, meanwhile, avoided defeat in a Premier League game they trailed by 3+ goals in for only the second time – previously doing so v Bournemouth in January 2017 (3-3).
- This was the third time in the Premier League season that a team has led by 3+ goals and failed to win (also West Brom 3-3 Chelsea and Spurs 3-3 West Ham) – the most instances in a single Premier League campaign since 2010-11 (also three).
- West Ham have only won one of their last 11 games against Arsenal in the Premier League (D3 L7), failing to win any of their four meetings in the last two league campaigns (D1 L3).
- Tomas Soucek is the first player to score both a goal and an own goal in the same home Premier League game for West Ham since Frank Lampard v Leicester at Upton Park in November 1998.
Following the international break, Arsenal host Liverpool in the Premier League on April 4, live on Super Sunday; coverage starts at 4pm with kick-off at 4.30pm. West Ham travel to face Wolves the following day on Monday Night Football; kick-off is at 8.15pm.