There were times during the second half at the Emirates Stadium when it seemed inevitable what was going to happen next.
Alexandre Lacazette’s opening goal felt like a distant memory as West Ham, buoyed by the deserved equaliser scored by Michail Antonio moments before the break, subjected the hosts to wave after wave of pressure. The crosses rained down on the Arsenal box. The shots kept coming.
An Arthur Masuaku delivery almost crept over the line via a deflection. Antonio then struck the crossbar with a towering header. Moments after that, Bernd Leno allowed a high ball to squirm out of his arms – only to be rescued by Gabriel Magalhaes, who pulled off a last-ditch block behind him.
It felt like a matter of time until the net finally bulged and West Ham – unrecognisable from the side defeated by Newcastle on the opening weekend – made their superiority count. As the game approached the closing stages, Arsenal had not had a shot since the 47th minute. The visitors, meanwhile, had attempted 10 in the same timeframe.
It was a position from which Arsenal would not have recovered in years gone by, but it is a measure of their progress under Mikel Arteta that, even on off-day such as this, they were still able to plunder a victory.
Having ridden their luck, they regained their composure. Then, when their opportunity arose, they were clinical, Bukayo Saka feeding Dani Ceballos, who squared for substitute Eddie Nketiah to do the rest.
At the end of it all, West Ham had taken 14 shots to Arsenal’s seven but it was the hosts who had the points, a victory to add to their opening day win over Fulham and ensure that the early-season optimism around the club is not punctured. Arteta screamed in delight at the final whistle, his fists clenched and a broad smile on his face.
“What I liked was the approach that the boys had in the last 25 minutes, when I could seem them coming down a little bit, and they lifted up,” he told Sky Sports afterwards.
“Probably, a few months ago, we would have drawn or lost that game and today we won it. In the end, you have to find a way because you are going to have games like this through the season.”
Arteta’s delight was obvious. Arsenal’s next five Premier League fixtures include meetings with Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United, so taking maximum points from their first two games was imperative. But at the same time he was under no illusions about their shortcomings.
“I am really happy with the three points, but we have a lot to analyse because there were a lot of issues we created for ourselves in many moments,” he added. “We have to improve many things.”