Arsenal came from behind to end their nine-match winless streak as Freddie Ljungberg enjoyed his first victory as interim manager at the expense of his former club West Ham.
Eighteen-year-old Gabriel Martinelli marked his full Premier League debut by side-footing an equaliser which cancelled out Angelo Ogbonna’s deflected first-half opener at London Stadium.
Within nine minutes, Nicolas Pepe had curled a magnificent second into the top corner and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang fired in a third.
The salvo turned the game on its head and piled the pressure on West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini, whose side have taken four points from their past nine league games and conceded three times in three successive home games.
The Hammers remain a point above the relegation zone in 16th and face a trip to third-bottom Southampton on Saturday. Arsenal move up two places to ninth.
Arsenal recover from dismal start
Arsenal’s victory was all the more remarkable because until Martinelli added to the seven goals he has scored in cup competitions this season, the visitors had been utterly woeful.
Club officials had spoken before kick-off about the improved atmosphere triggered by Ljungberg’s appointment as Unai Emery’s replacement but it appeared this game would end in frustration, just as the previous two had done under the Swede.
The visitors were bereft of confidence and mild boos from the travelling support accompanied the end of a first half in which their side failed to have a shot on target and went behind when Ogbonna’s header bounced in off Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
True, they did not have much luck. Hector Bellerin was injured in the warm-up and when Kieran Tierney was helped off in obvious pain with a shoulder injury sustained in a seemingly innocuous tangle with Michail Antonio, Ljungberg had lost both his first-choice full-backs in the space of half an hour.
Nevertheless, it was pitiful stuff and when Aubameyang surged down the right wing and sent over a cross that flew over everyone and straight out for a throw-in on the other side of the pitch, it was symptomatic of a club apparently heading nowhere fast.
‘Nerveless’ Martinelli rewards Ljungberg’s faith
It was 1977 when Arsenal last went 10 matches without a win. With an away Europa League game against Standard Liege followed by a home encounter with Manchester City to come, at the interval it was not beyond the realms of possibility that the 12-game barren sequence from 1974 was going to be threatened.
With Alexandre Lacazette and David Luiz on the bench, it was two of Arsenal’s most inexperienced players who sparked the change in fortune.
Ljungberg had obviously seen enough of Martinelli in two substitute appearances to trust the Brazilian with his first league start. The reward was a nerveless finish when his side needed it most. Sead Kolasinac provided the cross but there was still a lot to do for the Brazilian, who steered a first-time effort into the corner.
Emery paid a club record £72m for Pepe in August. With one league goal all season, the Frenchman has not really lived up to his billing but his goal here, a curling shot into the right-hand corner of David Martin’s net, was perfect in its execution.
Aubameyang made certain of a win few would have anticipated 10 minutes earlier when his clinical finish took his tally for the season to 13. It disguised the fact he had been a virtual spectator for the first hour.
At the final whistle, Ljungberg ran to applaud the visiting fans, knowing he had given his own chances of replacing Emery a significant boost.
What now for the unhappy Hammers?
When they beat Chelsea 1-0 nine days ago to end their own winless sequence, it appeared West Ham were on an upward curve.
The combination of boos and thousands of empty seats that accompanied the final whistle on Monday underlined the truth of the matter.
West Ham are perilously close to dropping into the relegation zone, something the club cannot countenance after moving to the 60,000-capacity London Stadium.
Even if Pellegrini survives this defeat, if West Ham lose again at Southampton on Saturday the calls for his dismissal will become piercingly loud.
This was the third home game running in which they had conceded three goals.
The Hammers were not particularly convincing when they were in front. Once they lost the advantage, the lack of confidence so clear in Arsenal’s play transferred to theirs.
Record signing Sebastien Haller was left on the bench and even when he was introduced 20 minutes from time, he made no noticeable impact.
Man of the match: Gabriel Martinelli (Arsenal)
‘Like a Duracell battery’ – what they said
Arsenal interim boss Freddie Ljungberg told BBC Sport: “The players have belief and tried to move the ball with more tempo. West Ham got tired.
“The players ran their socks off and fought. I believe in them. When I could see them put their shift in, I could see the quality. I thought ‘it is here for the taking’.
“Martinelli did amazingly. He is like a Duracell battery, he keeps going. Laca [Alexandre Lacazette] is a tremendous player but I had to make a tough decision.”
West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini told BBC Sport: “For 60 minutes there was just one team on the pitch. But football can be like this.
“We made mistakes in moments of defending. The problem was a lack of patience and quality to decide the game with a second goal and we made important mistakes in defence.
“The pressure for me is exactly the same if we win or lose. When you don’t have results things are more difficult. If I had not seen the team play the way they did in the first 65 minutes, I might have doubts [about his ability to turn things around].
“After Southampton at the weekend we have a break. We must try to recover as quickly as we can and we must try to win those three points.”
Rare Arsenal recovery away from home – the stats
- West Ham have lost three in a row at home in the Premier League for the first time since August 2015.
- Arsenal came from a half-time losing position to win a Premier League away game for the first time since October 2011 (5-3 v Chelsea).
- Gabriel Martinelli is Arsenal’s fourth-youngest scorer in the Premier League (18 years 174 days), after Cesc Fabregas, Serge Gnabry and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
- Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been involved in 12 goals in his past 11 Premier League London derbies (nine goals, three assists).
- Since his Premier League debut in February 2018, Aubameyang has scored 43 goals in the competition, a joint-high along with Jamie Vardy.
Arsenal conclude their Europa League group phase campaign at Standard Liege on Thursday (17:55 GMT), still needing a draw to be sure of qualification before entertaining Manchester City at Emirates Stadium in the Premier League on Sunday (16:30). West Ham visit Southampton on Saturday (17:30).
Brentford made it three Championship wins in a row with a deserved victory at west London rivals Queens Park Rangers.
The hosts, who would have gone second in the table with victory, went behind in the first half when Ollie Watkins headed in Bryan Mbeumo’s cross.
Rangers equalised soon after the break through returning captain Grant Hall’s header, before Brentford retook the lead on the hour mark as Said Benrahma smashed in a penalty.
Watkins sealed the win in the fourth minute of stoppage time, tapping in Mathias Jensen’s low cross as Brentford broke on the counter-attack.
The Bees were good value for their victory and could have had more goals were it not for R’s goalkeeper Liam Kelly who made fine saves to deny Benrahma, Josh Dasilva and Watkins.
Rangers also created some good chances – the best of them Nahki Wells’ bullet header which was superbly tipped wide by David Raya.
But it was Josh Scowen’s foul on Mbeumo in the box which led to the decisive spot kick, although it looked a harsh decision on the R’s midfielder.
French winger Mbeumo appeared to be already falling when Scowen made contact, but referee Andy Woolmer had no hesitation pointing to the spot.
Watkins simply made sure of three points, scoring his 10th goal of the season with the last kick of the game.
QPR remain eighth in a tight Championship table, two points off an automatic promotion place, while Brentford are three points outside the play-offs in 12th.
The Bees will be hopeful of stretching their good run as they play teams below them in their next five fixtures.
Mark Warburton’s Rangers side face a tough visit to Leeds United on Saturday.
Goals from academy gradates Joe Willock and Bukayo Saka helped Arsenal overcome a difficult test against Eintracht Frankfurt and begin their Europa League campaign with a victory.
Willock put the Gunners in front with a deflected shot in the first half before Saka smashed in his first senior goal for the club in the 85th minute.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang added a third two minutes later as Arsenal ended their three-game winless run.
The Gunners had created further chances but also relied on goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez to come to the aid of their fragile defence.
The Argentine produced excellent low saves to deny Filip Kostic and Andre Silva in the first half.
The second period was frantic in front of a vociferous home crowd with Arsenal’s late goals only coming after Dominik Kohr was shown a second yellow card for a cynical foul.
The Gunners, beaten finalists in last year’s Europa League, are top of the early Group F table on goal difference after Standard Liege beat Vitoria in the night’s other game.
Youngsters star in attack
Manager Unai Emery opted for a mix of youth and experience for the game in Germany, despite it arguably being Arsenal’s toughest test in Group F, and it was their young players who stood out.
Eighteen-year-old Saka, playing for the first team for the first time this season and fifth time in total, was excellent on the left flank, scoring once and setting up the other two goals.
He created Willock’s goal by beating his marker with fine skill in midfield and was the main threat for the Gunners in the first half.
The only criticism was he spurned a number of chances to increase Arsenal’s lead but he silenced those doubts with an emphatic finish from the edge of the area late on.
Willock played as the Gunners most advanced central midfielder and offered a goal threat but also linked play well, notably with a fine driving run in the second half which ended with Martin Hinteregger excellently blocking an Aubameyang shot.
The scoreline flattered Arsenal in the end but the game will be most memorable for the performance of their youngsters.
Defensive issues remain
The Gunners came into the game on the back of their disappointing 2-2 draw against Watford, after which their defensive display was heavily criticised as they spurned a two-goal lead.
Although Arsenal kept a second clean sheet of the season, they still looked uncertain at the back and allowed Eintracht 24 shots on goal – seven fewer than the Hornets’ 31 on Sunday.
Arsenal’s deeper midfielders Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira failed to control proceedings with the second half end-to-end until Kohr was dismissed.
Eintracht, who reached the semi-finals of the Europa League last season before losing on penalties to Chelsea, lost strikers Sebastien Haller and Luka Jovic to West Ham and Real Madrid respectively in the summer and had either been in their line-up on Thursday, Arsenal’s slack defence may have been punished.
Kostic caused right-back Calum Chambers significant problems but was wasteful, as was AC Milan loanee Silva, who shot well wide in the second half when given another good opportunity.
That said, Martinez, brought in for first-choice goalkeeper Bernd Leno, impressed with key saves in the first half and assured handling when called upon.
Man of the match – Bukayo Saka
‘A dream come true’ – reaction
Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka: “I’m so happy to score for Arsenal, it’s a dream come true – I have been dreaming of this moment since I was a kid.
“I just want to keep working hard to make sure I can feel this feeling again.”
Arsenal manager Unai Emery: “We knew tonight was going to be difficult, they fell back very deep and caused us problems early on.
“We recovered the ball well and the young players showed the confidence to take their chances.
“Everybody can be happy and continuing in this competition is important, so it was good to get a good win, especially away from home.”
Eintracht coach Adi Hutter: “It’s a bitter defeat for us, because the performance does not reflect that result.
“When it was still 1-0 for Arsenal, we tried to score the equaliser but then conceded another one.
“The important thing is for us to create chances, I have seen enough of those. A goal can help open some doors, give you a boost, that did not happen today.”
Aubameyang’s goal-scoring run – the best stats
- Arsenal have only lost one of their 13 group stage games in the Europa League (W10 D2), while this was their sixth consecutive clean sheet in the group stage of the competition.
- Arsenal picked up their first European away win against German opposition since November 2013 (1-0 v Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League), having failed to win on any of their previous five trips (D1 L4).
- Eintracht Frankfurt suffered their heaviest home defeat across European competitions – in what was their 74th such game on home soil.
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has netted seven goals in his last seven Europa League appearances for Arsenal, with four of those coming away from home.
- Bukayo Saka is the youngest player to score for Arsenal in the Europa League/Champions League since October 2008, when Aaron Ramsey (17y 300d) netted against Fenerbahce.