“Every player has to stick to those values. And play with a passion,” said Mikel Arteta with an obvious Aubameyang sub-text.
This was a victory for youth and exuberance. It followed a pattern of recent home games – high energy start, a dip after 25 minutes, and a slight change of tactics after half-time to secure a victory.
Until Smith Rowe scored a second late in the game, there was an underlying feeling that West Ham could equalise at any minute, despite Arsenal’s dominance in possession, an element etched into Arsenal fan’s psyches from the Wenger era.
And in homes games the recent focus has been on a young player excelling and being man of the match. This time it was Martinelli’s turn – and highly deserved.
The Brazilian looks to have learned to pace himself better, since his major injury and is more of a team player. Rather than haring around like a young bull in a china shop – he is looking to choose his moments, even though this may be hard to spot with his all-energy style. And occupying Aubameyang’s spot on the left is another few letters on the writing on the wall.
Arsenal were unchanged from Southampton. For West Ham, Fornals was in for Benrahma and were carrying a few injuries most notably in defence with Zouma and Ogbonna both out.
Moyes has never won in 17 attempts against Arsenal. But this was like a Cup tie for a place in the top four, with psychological import. It has been two and a half years since Arsenal occupied a potential Champions League position.
It was feisty with both teams exaggerating fouls for a yellow or red card advantage. Coufal slung his arm across Tierney, about to cross on the left, leaving the Scot on the floor clutching his face.
Soucek stetched his leg, wrapped it round Tierney and fell to the ground, gaining an artificial free kick in a dangerous area. Lanzini’s cross was headed out – straight to Fornals whose bender beat Ramsdale but went just past the post.
Although Arsenal were dominating possession, attacks broke down in the final third. Saka set up Xhaka in the area, but he was too slow, and Tierney’s dipping shot was tapped against the bar by Fabianski.
Saka then set up Lacazette for a first time shot saved by Fabianski and Martinelli was thwarted from tapping in the rebound, being put off by Dawson.
West Ham had chances – the best of which fell to Masuaku, but he drove over the bar.
Arsenal started the second half with more zest than the previous 20 minutes, and with obvious intent to get behind the West Ham back four.
It didn’t take long to breach the rear-guard. White found Lacazette with a straight, vertical pass and the Frenchman who was having an excellent game holding up the play and driving forward, set up Martinelli with another straight pass who outpaced the West Ham defence, took one touch, moved inside, and slotted it past Fabianski with precision.
The Brazilian returned the favour on 67, setting up Lacazette on a run into the West Ham area, before being brought down clumsily by Coufal. It was one of those where the foot rises off the ball. But there was enough force for a second yellow and a penalty.
Fabianski dived to his left to save the Frenchman’s low shot – the third time in succession that Arsenal have missed from the spot. A potential problem rising.
The save galvanised West Ham, leading to jitters in the crowd, not helped by Xhaka’s propensity to lose the ball.
Arsenal responded. A Martinelli corner, delivered with precision came to Gabriel who side-volleyed just wide. And the Brazilian forward then set up Saka, but his effort was deflected wide.
With a few minutes remaining, Arsenal showed no let up and Tomiyasu and Saka robbed Benrahma and the England international brought the ball forward and released Smooth Row who drove to the West Ham area and fired past Fabianski.
Mikel Arteta said: “I’m really pleased with the quality, passion and energy. There were some good moments. They (West Ham) are a difficult team. They pose a threat and have a lot of solutions. But we had a high standard
On Martinelli’s goal: “It was a great goal – that’s what he can do.”
“Overall, it was a good performance against a difficult team. They were fully focused today.”
Premier League: Arsenal 2 West Ham 0
Arsenal:32RamsdaleBooked at 72mins, 18Tomiyasu, 4White, 6Gabriel, 3Tierney, 7Saka, 5Partey, 34Xhaka, 35Martinelli (Booked at 58mins, Substituted for Nketiah at 82’minutes),8Ødegaard (Substituted for Smith Rowe at 66’minutes), 9Lacazette (Substituted for Tavares at 89’minutes)
West Ham:1Fabianski, 5Coufal (Booked at 67mins), 15Dawson, 23Diop, 26Masuaku, 28Soucek, 41Rice, 20Bowen, 8Fornals (Substituted for Ashby at 84’minutes),10Lanzini (Substituted for Benrahma at 76’minutes), 9Antonio