West Ham spoilers again under David Moyes, frustrating Arsenal in draw
LONDON -- Three quick thoughts from the London Stadium after West Ham held Arsenal to a 0-0 draw in the Premier League on Wednesday:
1. West Ham spoilers again as Gunners frustrated
Arsenal were held to another frustrating away draw that dented their top-four aspirations even further, as David Moyes' West Ham claimed another impressive result against a top team.
Arsene Wenger's decision to ring the changes both in terms of personnel and formation backfired as the Gunners struggled to create quality chances against a West Ham side playing with five at the back. It left Arsenal without a win in their past three Premier League games and languishing in seventh place, closer to the bottom of the table (18 points) than the top (19 points).
In the end they were even lucky to escape with a draw, as the returning Javier Hernandez hit the crossbar in the 90th minute after comical defending from the Gunners. But Moyes' side couldn't quite pull off another upset victory four days after beating Chelsea 1-0 at home -- although this was no doubt another sign that his appointment is already having an effect.
With Arsenal having been held to a 1-1 draw at Southampton on Sunday, Wenger handed Jack Wilshere, Olivier Giroud and Ainsley Maitland-Niles their first Premier League starts of the season and reverted to a back four in the process, playing a 4-1-4-1 with Granit Xhaka as a deeper-lying holding midfielder.
While it helped the visitors control possession, they struggled to make anything of it throughout the match, with West Ham's defensive wall holding firm. Alex Iwobi hit the post with a low shot 30 minutes in, but that was one of the few times Adrian's goal was under threat. The goalkeeper's only save before the break was from Alexis Sanchez's low shot through a crowd in the 22nd. Sanchez forced a better save from Adrian with a free kick in the second half, but he never really looked close to scoring.
Instead, West Ham had arguably the better chances desite being content to sit back and wait for their opportunities on the break. The hosts thought they had gone ahead when the excellent Marko Arnautovic headed in a cross from Arthur Masuaku, but he was correctly flagged for offside. The Austrian then missed a great chance just after the restart, while substitute Hernandez nearly snatched the win in the final minutes.
2. Wilshere makes a case for more starts
This was Wilshere's first Premier League start for Arsenal in 577 days, and his previous one came another year before that -- in May 2015. While it wasn't one of his best games by any means, he made a decent case for not having to wait so long for his next one.
Wilshere showed a bit of rust at times, but there's no doubt he's more than capable of dealing with the intensity of the Premier League. Whether he can coexist with Sanchez and Mesut Ozil is another question.
Wilshere has had precious few chances to play with Arsenal's star duo because of injuries, last season's loan move and this season's demotion to Wenger's second-string cup team.
Their lack of connection was evident at times, as they often seemed to be on different pages when it came to making that final incisive move in the final third. And with three No. 10s on the pitch -- Wilshere, Ozil and Iwobi -- Arsenal lacked a more incisive player who could have made a difference.
But the midfielder's ability to keep the ball glued to his foot as he charges up the pitch remains, and he could be the type of midfield dynamo the team have been lacking in the absence of Santi Cazorla.
With Aaron Ramsey out with a hamstring injury, it's a perfect opportunity for Wilshere to convince Wenger to hand him a new contract. This wasn't a perfect performance, but it certainly warranted an encore.
3. Arnautovic shines again for Moyes
Arnautovic is clearly enjoying life under Moyes. While the West Ham striker couldn't quite repeat his game-winning heroics from the Chelsea match, he gave Arsenal's defence all they could handle despite being his team's only real attacking outlet.
He was unlucky to stray offside before beating Petr Cech with a well-placed header early on, then embarrassed both Nacho Monreal and the otherwise excellent Maitland-Niles with an exquisite dribbling performance along the sideline.
He nearly scored again just after the break when Mark Noble chested the ball into his path as he broke into the box, but the forward couldn't connect with the ball and it looped harmlessly over the bar.
Still, it was another impressive performance by Arnautovic, whose goal against Chelsea was his first of the season in the league. Judging by this performance, it won't be his last.
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.