No festive cheer for Arsenal, Tottenham as north London rivals lose in Premier League
There was no festive cheer for north London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham on Thursday.
A 2-0 home loss to West Ham stopped Arsenal moving back to the top of the Premier League.
A 4-2 defeat at Brighton prevented Tottenham moving back into the top four.
Arsenal’s setback was more surprising, given it was the team’s first loss at home in any competition in seven months.
And it’s just one win in its last four league games for the Gunners, at a time when Manchester City — the defending champion — has been looking vulnerable with just one win in six before a come-from-behind victory at Everton on Wednesday.
In truth, Arsenal — despite having 30 shots — never looked like getting the better of West Ham once the visitors went ahead through a goal that was less conclusive than the final score.
Cameras did not show definitively whether the ball was out of play when Jarrod Bowen turned it back into the penalty area for Tomas Soucek to force home a finish in the 13th minute. Bowen’s right leg blocked the best sight of whether any of the ball was in play and the referee stayed with the onfield decision of giving the goal.
“The technology we have at the moment is not clear enough if the ball is out,” Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said.
Konstantinos Mavropanos, a former Arsenal player, added the second goal with a glancing header at a corner in the 55th and it could have been worse had David Raya not saved a penalty by West Ham substitute Said Benrahma off virtually the last kick of the game. Declan Rice, sold to Arsenal by West Ham in July, gave away the penalty in what proved to be a miserable night for the midfielder against his former club.
Arsenal stayed in second place, two points behind Liverpool at the halfway stage of the campaign. City has a game in hand over both teams and suddenly is well poised, three points behind Arsenal and five adrift of Liverpool.
West Ham has climbed to sixth place on the back of consecutive wins over Manchester United and now Arsenal either side of Christmas Day.
Don’t be fooled by the score line. Tottenham was outplayed by Brighton except for a remarkable final 15 minutes when Spurs had so many chances, they could have come from 4-0 down to equalise.
Before that, a Brighton team missing as many as 10 players because of injuries ripped apart the visitors, who were also without key men in centre backs Cristian Romero and Micky van de Ven as well as suspended midfielder Yves Bissouma, the main protector in front of the defence.
Jack Hinshelwood and Joao Pedro — from the penalty spot — put Brighton 2-0 ahead by the 23rd minute. Halftime substitute Pervis Estupinan and Pedro — again with a penalty — doubled Brighton’s lead by the 75th and the margin could have been bigger.
Alejo Véliz and Ben Davies scored amid that belated dominant period for Tottenham, whose captain Son Heung-min had no complaints.
“Every team is strong in the Premier League and if we’re not playing like the last 15 minutes in every game, we’re going to struggle,” he said. “This has to be a big wake-up call.”
Tottenham stayed in fifth place, a point behind City in fourth.