Arsenal fight back to beat West Ham and move seven points clear at top

Gunners score three second-half goals after impressive display at Emirates stadium

Eddie Nketiah of Arsenal celebrates with teammate Kieran Tierney after scoring their side's third goal in their home match against West Ham United. Getty.
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Arsenal recovered from a goal down to beat West Ham 3-1 on Boxing Day and extend their lead at the top of the Premier League table to seven points.

Said Benrahma’s 27th-minute penalty gave David Moyes’ side a slender advantage at half-time, after the Gunners had a spot kick disallowed by VAR on the stroke of the interval.

Mikel Arteta saw his team move up through the gears after the break with Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli scoring with fine finishes at the start of the second period.

Eddie Nketiah’s goal in the 69th minute ensured the Gunners secured all three points and equalled their longest-ever Premier League home winning streak, with their 10th straight victory at the Emirates.

As predicted, Nketiah, 23, started in place of Gabriel Jesus, who is sidelined with the injury he sustained while playing for Brazil at the World Cup.

Arsenal thought they had gone ahead inside five minutes when Saka found the back of the net, but the ball had taken a touch off Nketiah in the build-up, resulting in an offside call.

Martinelli then went on a fine run down the left before he was brought down by Jarrod Bowen, who was immediately booked.

The Gunners were awarded the eighth-minute free kick but could not make anything of it.

Arsenal squandered a good opportunity to pull ahead when Martin Odegaard tried to set up a one-on-one for Granit Xhaka, but overpowered his pass and the Switzerland skipper could not get to the ball before West Ham keeper Lukasz Fabianski.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and Bukayo Saka embrace after their team's victory. EPA.

The Gunners, who dominated possession in the first period, continued to find themselves frustrated by the resilient visitors, who ultimately pulled ahead when William Saliba brought down Bowen just inside the area, clipping the West Ham forward’s left foot.

The referee pointed to the spot and Benrahma stepped up, firing into the back of the net as Aaron Ramsdale went to his left to open the scoring in the 27th minute.

The Gunners piled on the pressure with wave after wave of attack throughout the first 45 minutes, frequently finding themselves in the final third but ultimately producing nothing.

The first half ended in more frustration for the hosts when Odegaard fired a sharp left-footed strike that hit Aaron Cresswell, whose arm was raised as he made the block.

Arsenal were initially awarded the handball, but a VAR check confirmed the ball had hit Cresswell’s head and ensured the Gunners went into the break 1-0 down.

Michail Antonio saw his attempt to double the Hammers’ lead shortly after the restart thwarted. Thomas Partey’s effort was then turned away at the right post and Fabianski blocked the resulting corner.

The Gunners equalised in the 53rd minute when Odegaard’s effort found its way to the feet of Saka at the edge of the six-metre box. Saka wasted no time, slotting into the bottom left corner to level the scores.

Arsenal took the lead just six minutes later after a few quick touches found Martinelli at the left of the area and he beat Fabianski with a low effort at his near post.

Nketiah had enjoyed the vocal support of the Emirates crowd from kick-off and they were finally rewarded when Odegaard tapped the ball to him.

He neatly pivoted around his marker before firing into the bottom corner as the elated fans chanted his name.

Updated: December 26, 2022, 11:18 PM
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