First it was “Wenger out.” Then it was “Emery out.”
The question facing Arsenal at the moment during their worst run of results in 42 years heading into Monday’s derby at West Ham United is, does anyone want in?
The Gunners (4-7-4) are winless in their last nine matches (0-6-3) in all competitions, their longest stretch without a victory since losing eight of 11 from Jan. 22-March 23, 1977. They were 10th in the table through Saturday’s matches, closer to the drop than fourth and incurring the increasing wrath of their supporters with each passing match.
That was apparent in Thursday’s 2-1 home loss to Brighton and Hove Albion that served as the Emirates debut for interim manager Freddie Ljungberg. The players provided little of a hoped new manager bounce as the Gunners slipped to 0-3-4 in their last seven in league play. Alexander Lacazette had pulled Arsenal even on 50 minutes, but a lack of cohesion and chemistry – and occasional drive – was evident throughout the contest.
Arsenal would eventually pay the price in the 80th minute when Neal Maupay’s header beat Bernd Leno. It was Brighton’s first win in club history at Arsenal and highlighted the alarming trend that has accelerated since Arsene Wenger’s departure: No one is afraid of Arsenal anymore, and there is little confidence in them reversing form evidenced by the fans walking out in the final minutes as they hunted out an equaliser in vain.
“The main thing is we didn’t show up in the first half. We were very passive and we had a chat at half-time, made a tactical change and all of a sudden we looked like a team,” Ljungberg told the club’s official website. “For 20 minutes or so we really pushed them, scored goals and thought we could win the game, but VAR was correct. That’s how we have to play the whole game. I said to the players that you can’t give away a whole half to any team in the Premier League. That’s what we need to learn from.”
Another area that would be helpful is getting on the scoreboard first. The Gunners have fallen behind 1-0 in nine of their league matches, and only Norwich City (10) have conceded first more often. The 19 points accrued through 15 matches is their lowest total since having 17 through the first 16 matches of 1975-76 – that season Arsenal finished 17th with 36 points from a 42-match schedule.
The Gunners have gone 4-6-10 in their last 20 league contests outside the Emirates, a run beginning 369 days from kickoff of this game with a 2-2 draw at Manchester United.
Yet for all their misery, they have company in east London with West Ham United. The Irons (4-4-7) are in 16th place through play Saturday, trailing Bournemouth on goal difference and one point above the drop.
Manuel Pellegrini’s team have just one win from their last 10 matches (1-2-7) in all competitions and a bid to record back-to-back league victories for the first time since late August was thwarted with a 2-0 loss at Wolverhampton on Wednesday. It may have been a case of playing with house money for the Hammers coming off a surprising win at Chelsea last weekend, but there was little in the way of offence as West Ham finished with only three shots on target and six overall.
I think three points playing two games away was not bad, but of course we were not happy with the result against Wolverhampton, even though we knew before it was a difficult game. Now we must recover our good results at home,” Pellegrini told West Ham’s official website.
“This is a special season in the Premier League, where we have ten or eleven teams separated by five or six points, so to have a win at our home would be very important for us.”
The Irons continue to underwhelm on both sides of the ball despite an aggressive spend in the transfer market the past two seasons. They have just 17 goals in league play and are winless in their last four at London Stadium (0-1-3), shipping nine goals in that stretch. West Ham have not lost three consecutive league home matches since October 2013.
To that end, keeper David Martin will make his home debut for West Ham after splitting his first two Premier League starts between the sticks. Pellegrini made the switch to his third netminder of the term with Lukasz Fabianski injured and Roberto ineffective.
West Ham ended a six-match winless spell to Arsenal in the most recent meeting, a 1-0 victory at London Stadium in January on Declan Rice’s goal in the 48th minute. The Irons also ended a 10-match winless stretch at home versus the Gunners (0-3-7) with the three points and improved to 3-8-12 at home in the Premier League era to their derby rivals.
Arsenal are 16-4-2 in the last 22 league matchups.