West Ham travelled North for their 2015-16 season opener having not won at the Emirates in eight years. But with industry and neat finishing, they left with a 2-0 victory, leaving Arsenal to wonder where, outside of Alexis Sanchez, a cutting edge for them might lie.
Slaven Bilic’s side set up to pack the midfield, attempting to nullify Arsenal’s attacking quartet of Santi Cazorla, Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. As the match went on and the visitors in claret and blue became increasingly hard to live with, chances appeared on the counter and via set pieces. An incidence of the lagter allowed the Hammers to open the scoring when Cheikhou Kouyate nodded home from a precise Dimitri Payet free kick. Arsenal tried to force an equaliser, but found it impossible to consistently find ways through the West Ham defensive structure. Poor defending and baffling goalkeeping gifted Mauro Zarate a fine goal, and his team saw out the 2-0 victory, one earned through grit and pragmatism by a wholly second-choice West Ham XI.