Arsenal welcomed former manager Arsene Wenger back to the Emirates after four years with a stellar second-half comeback win over hard-fighting West Ham.
Arsene Wenger joined teeming Arsenal fans at the emirates to celebrate Mikel Arteta’s third anniversary as Arsenal manager. The anniversary beautifully coincided with Arsenal’s opening Premier League clash against West Ham after the World Cup break.
The former Arsenal boss and Premier League legend decided to return to the Emirates to watch the club, where he spent a huge chunk of his managerial career, take on London rivals West Ham.
It was a near heartbreak in the first half. Arsenal fell behind West Ham against the run of play. Gunners were dominant throughout the first half, but the disappointing moment came when William Saliba clipped down Jarrod Bowen in the box, and West Ham were awarded a penalty.
Algeria international Benrahma converted it, smashing down the middle while the Arsenal goalie flew to the right. West Ham took the lead against the run of play and maintained it throughout the end of the first half.
Arsenal have been phenomenal since the beginning of the season. They had gone into the game five points clear of the EPL table and were potent contenders for the Premier League title.
After the World Cup break, resuming with a defeat to a struggling West Ham would have been a big blow to their title chase. Meanwhile, Mikel Arteta needed to prove his credentials to his former manager and tutor, Arsene Wenger.
Arsenal’s style of play is no different from Arsene Wenger’s during his days at the club, but Mikel Arteta appears to have breathed new energy into the youngsters, giving the team enough confidence to take on any opponent.
West Ham took a narrow 1-0 lead into the second half, and there were airs of frustration in the Arsenal squad as they struggled to find an equaliser without a breakthrough in the first 45 minutes.
Mikel Arteta always knows how to get the best out of his players. The second half was the turning point in the game.
Arsenal surged forward with renewed energy and drive. The likes of William Saliba and Ben White were far from their box and were closing in on West Ham’s final third.
England star Bukayo Saka set the game rolling when he fired home from close range to equalise for the Gunners.
The goal was a curtain-raiser for the home side, giving the team enough momentum and confidence to press harder for a winner.
A few minutes later, Arsenal got their second to take the lead. Gabriel Martinelli tucked the ball inside the near post from a tight angle, beating Gunners’ former goalie Fabianski.
Eddie Nketiah, who replaced injured Gabriel Jesus, sealed the win in the 69th minute as Arsenal cruised to a dramatic 3-1 comeback win, with all three goals coming in the second half.
It was another stellar and brilliant performance by Arsenal, who are now seven points clear on top of the Premier League table.
It was a great way to welcome Arsene Wenger back to the Emirates Stadium after four years since stepping down as Arsenal manager in 2018.
Arsene Wenger, spotted in the stands, was thrilled with the win as he celebrated Mikel Arteta’s third anniversary as Arsenal manager.
Arteta was happy with the result and duly recognized the presence of his former boss at the club. Speaking after the game, Mikel Arteta said, “It is a really special day because Boxing Day is a beautiful day to play football, and I thought the performance was at the level today that we deserve.
“Hopefully he [Wenger] will like it.”
Arsenal will travel to take on Brighton in their next game, as they hope to recreate Arsene Wenger’s indomitable 2003 Premier League champions.