A late flurry of goals saw Arsenal sweep aside West Ham and record a morale-boosting 4-1 win. In the wake of Arsene Wenger’s decision to step down, the team showed they are capable of giving him a decent send-off between now and the end of the season.
The Gunners took the lead through Nacho Monreal before being pegged back. However, a strange goal by Aaron Ramsey and a brace for Alexandre Lacazette ensured Wenger marked the occasion with three points.
Ahead of the Atletico Madrid match on Thursday night, it was important that Arsenal got a positive result to gather some momentum. Their performance wasn’t entirely convincing but at least they got the win.
Arsenal fans will also have been encouraged by more link-up play between Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. For the second game in succession, the January signing laid on a goal for the former Lyon man.
Wenger will be disappointed to have lost Mohamed Elneny to injury. The Egypt international has been in terrific form recently and would most likely earned a start against Atletico. The midfielder departed the field covering his face to hide the pain: though the medical staff said it was just a “rolled ankle,” it’s unlikely he’ll be back any time soon.
It’s also a shame that even after Wenger’s announcement, there were so many empty seats at the Emirates Stadium. The match was a “sell-out” so many season ticket holders must have simply chosen to stay away.
Manager rating out of 10
6 — In the end, Wenger will be glad for a handsome win. However, that happiness will be offset by his disappointment at losing Elneny. We’ll only know on Thursday if he made the right decision to go with such a strong XI.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK David Ospina, 6 — According to Arsenal, Petr Cech was absent from this game with a hip injury. Assuming he is fit to face Atletico on Thursday, it will fascinating to see who Wenger picks in goal. He has insisted Ospina is the nominated keeper for European competition but with so much at stake, will he reinstate his No.1? Ospina might consider that harsh in the circumstances especially as he didn’t really do too much wrong against West Ham.
DF Hector Bellerin, 7 — This was a decent game for Bellerin, whose best moment was probably a fizzed first-half cross towards Danny Welbeck. Antoine Griezmann is likely to provide him with a sterner test in midweek.
DF Laurent Koscielny, 6 — Finding a long-term replacement for the France international might be the biggest task facing the incoming Arsenal manager. In this match, he was caught out once or twice by Marlo Arnautovic: further evidence of his decline.
DF Shkodran Mustafi, 6 — Assuming Diego Simeone has been doing his homework on Arsenal, Mustafi is surely the man he will look to target on Thursday night. Mustafi did actually make one excellent sliding tackle in the first half but just two minutes later, he was caught napping. That sums him up: he’s wildly unpredictable, which isn’t what you want from a centre-half.
DF Nacho Monreal, 7 — The Spain international has discovered a scoring touch this season and continued that by sweeping come a corner with an excellent left-footed finish. He now has three goals in his last seven Premier League appearances.
MF Granit Xhaka, 7 — The Swiss international was responsible for providing Monreal’s goal with an excellent out-swinging corner from the left-hand side. He largely controlled the game with his passing from midfield but was also needlessly booked.
MF Mohamed Elneny, 6 — What a shame that he looks likely to miss the Atletico match and possibly the remainder of the season. His form in recent weeks saw him earn a new contract and the consolation for Elneny is that he is certain to have a future with the club.
MF Aaron Ramsey, 7 — The Wales midfielder had a pretty difficult afternoon filling in for Mesut Ozil at No. 10 but ultimately scored the winning goal with a teasing cross from the left side that evaded everyone before finding the far corner.
FW Alex Iwobi, 5 — If Iwobi’s form had looked to be recovering in recent weeks, today was a significant backwards step for him. His passing was off and his decision-making poor. In fairness to the Nigeria international, he tends to look far better playing off the left than the right.
FW Danny Welbeck, 7 — Although his performance was punctuated by a couple of customarily clumsy goal attempts, for long periods Welbeck looked like the Arsenal player most likely to make something happen. He probably did enough to earn himself another Europa League start.
FW Alexandre Lacazette, 7 — He is the sort of striker who can be ruthlessly efficient in front of goal. However, when chances don’t come his way, you might struggle to notice he’s playing. Eventually, his opportunities did come and he took them in the clinical fashion we’ve come to expect.
FW Ainsley Maitland-Niles, 7 — Came on for Elneny (45) for a rare Premier League outing as a central midfielder.
FW Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 7 — Replaced Iwobi (70) and helped Arsenal to find their flow in attack. It’s just a shame they can’t use him on Thursday.
DF Calum Chambers, NR — Introduced for Welbeck (88) as Arsenal switched to a back three.
James McNicholas is one of ESPN FC’s Arsenal bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter @gunnerblog.