West Ham United 1-3 Arsenal
- Goals: Angelo Ogbonna (£4.5m) | Gabriel Martinelli (£4.5m), Nicolas Pepe (£9.1m), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£10.9m)
- Assists: Pablo Fornals (£6.0m)| Sead Kolasinac (£5.2m), Aubameyang, Pepe
- Bonus: Aubameyang x3, Pepe x2, Martinelli x1
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (£10.9m) registered his third double-digit haul of the season as Freddie Ljungberg oversaw his first win as interim Arsenal manager in a low-quality affair at the London Stadium.
Bar ten minutes of ruthless attacking play from the visitors in the second half, it was difficult to split the teams in terms of sheer awfulness.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side came into this match on a run of one victory in ten league matches, while the Gunners were winless since Gameweek 8.
Only Aubameyang could boast a double-digit ownership among the players on show and the lack of faith in other West Ham and Arsenal assets seems warranted at present, at least while the clubs are in their current stagnant states.
The right managerial appointment at the Emirates could alter that, of course: Spurs assets were hardly en vogue before the arrival of Jose Mourinho and are now much sought-after among the Fantasy community.
Owners of Manchester City players will perhaps be hoping that Stan Kroenke and co can delay any decision on that front, with Pep Guardiola’s troops the visitors to north London in Gameweek 17.
The scoreline masked a dreadful first-half display from the Gunners, with their first shot on target indeed being Gabriel Martinelli‘s (£4.5m) 59th-minute equaliser.
The budget Fantasy Premier League forward, making his first-ever Premier League start on the left flank of a 4-2-3-1, converted a Sead Kolasinac (£5.2m) cut-back to finish a slick Arsenal break and spark a turnaround that had seemed very unlikely in the preceding hour.
Nicolas Pepe (£9.1m) collected an Aubameyang pass to superbly curl home the visitors’ second goal before the Ivory Coast international returned the favour, crossing for his teammate to volley in the Gunners’ third.
Aubameyang, who had earlier carved out Arsenal’s only real chance of the first half for Mesut Ozil (£7.2m), almost added to his tally but saw a goalbound, stoppage-time shot deflect over for a corner.
The Gabon international now has 11 goals for the season and cracked the 100-point FPL barrier with his attacking returns in Gameweek 16, becoming only the fourth player to do so this season.
It is frightening to think of the damage he could do playing in a side that provides him with adequate service and under a manager that regularly plays him in a central role.
Here, at least Ljungberg had the good sense to do the latter after wasting the premium striker on the right flank against Brighton last Thursday.
Alexandre Lacazette (£9.3m) was dropped to the bench for the first time since Gameweek 9, with the interim Arsenal head coach fielding Aubameyang in the lone striker’s role ahead of an attacking trident of Martinelli, Ozil and Pepe.
Aubameyang had only four more touches of the ball than 86th-minute substitute Matteo Guendouzi (£4.5m) but, a bit like Jamie Vardy (£10.1m), he is one of of a handful of FPL assets who tend to make the most of their opportunities.
Owners of the Gabonese striker, along with the rest of us, will be watching keenly in the days ahead to see who the Arsenal board plump for as Unai Emery’s permanent replacement.
Pepe has been slow to get to grips with English football and his first double-digit haul of the season likely won’t be enough to prompt a wave of transfer activity, with there being a number of in-form alternatives in the premium/mid-price midfield bracket.
Similarly, we’ll have to wait to see if Martinelli becomes a permanent fixture in the plans of whoever is appointed Arsenal boss before we can get excited about his budget-freeing potential as a third FPL striker.
Where all this leaves Lacazette is another question.
Speaking of his two wingers, Ljungberg said after full-time:
People always ask me about Nico and I try to explain. He comes from the French league, he comes to the Premier League – in my opinion, the best league in the world – and it’s a lot faster and a lot harder. He needs to adapt.
People put pressure on him but that’s not so easy, and I thought what he did today was he worked really hard offensively and defensively and showed his quality.
Gabi is a fantastic player. He’s still very young but he has that energy about him and he goes and he goes. He has no fear and he just keeps on going.
So it’s a pleasure to see him there on that pitch, and for him to get the success that he did today, it gives you a smile to your face.
Arsenal’s defence was as uncertain as ever and they suffered a double injury blow in the full-back department, with Hector Bellerin (£5.4m) withdrawing from the starting XI in the warm-up and Kieran Tierney (£5.4m) exiting the field of play before the game was half an hour old with a shoulder problem.
Ljungberg said after the game:
Tierney, I think it’s something with his shoulder but I don’t know exactly what it is. But obviously we had to take him off so I think he’s going to maybe go to hospital and check what it is.
Hector had a bit of feeling, I think, in his hamstring in the warm-up. Then we took the decision. I said I’m not going to force anyone to play if you don’t feel 100 per cent.
Reflecting on the match overall, the Arsenal boss said:
First half we were slow, we were a bit lethargic, we didn’t move, we didn’t run. But that, in my opinion, comes when players are low and have no confidence. You don’t do it at the speed you need to and it’s been hard on the players, but I felt like we gave it a go in the second half and we did that. It was amazing to see, for me.
And you saw West Ham getting a bit tired and a bit low around the 60th minute and we sliced them open and played some really good football, in my opinion. That’s how we want to play and we were keeping the ball well.
But of course, we don’t get carried away. We have a lot of work to do on things but all credit to the players for how they did in the second half.
The fact that Arsenal emerged as 3-1 winners despite their shortcomings reflected badly on West Ham, who themselves hadn’t done much to merit a one-nil led.
Out-of-position FPL midfielder Michail Antonio (£6.9m) was back in a striker’s role for the Hammers after a precautionary midweek absence and showed glimmers of promise early on, firing over before forcing a save out of Bernd Leno (£5.0m).
The deadlock-breaking goal came out of nowhere, though, with Pablo Fornals (£6.0m) capitalising on Arsenal’s inability to clear a corner and crossing for Angelo Ogbonna (£4.5m) to power a deflected header past Leno.
The Hammers were just as bad in the second half as Arsenal had been in the first and their defensively suspect display will be of encouragement to owners of Danny Ings (£6.3m) ahead of Southampton’s home match against Pellegrini’s troops this weekend.
As for the Hammers on the whole, they will surely be far from Fantasy managers’ thoughts at present.
On top of their indifferent form, Pellegrini’s side also blank in Gameweek 18 due to Liverpool’s involvement in the Club World Cup.
Pellegrini said after full-time:
If Arsenal create six or seven goals and score three then maybe, fair enough, but they didn’t create much and then in nine minutes decided the game.
We need to be more concentrated and try to finish with more quality when we had the chances like we had tonight.
It is difficult to understand why we made those mistakes or why you are not solid in every ball. I always say that two or three balls decide the score, you can play well but if you are not concentrated in defending then you allow them to score and that’s what happened tonight.
The Hammers also lost a full-back to injury, with Aaron Cresswell (£4.7m) forced off just after half-time.
Budget goalkeeper David Martin (£4.0m), meanwhile, started his third straight game between the posts.
Become a Member and get unrestricted access to our data and articles
Full-year memberships are now available for the price of £17.50. Monthly subscriptions also cost just £2.99.
Join now to get the following:
- Plot your transfer strategies using the fully interactive Season Ticker.
- Get projections for every Premier League player provided by the Rate My Team statistical model.
- Use Rate My Team throughout the season to guide your selections and transfers.
- Get access to over 150+ exclusive members articles over the season.
- Analyse our OPTA-powered statistic tables specifically tailored for Fantasy Football Managers.
- Use our exclusive tool to build custom stats tables from over 100 OPTA player and team stats.
- Enjoy our brand NEW Flat-Track Bully feature which introduces an opposition filter to your tables.
- View heatmaps and expected goals data for every player.
- Use our powerful comparison tool to analyse players head-to-head.