Arsenal got their 15/16 Premier League season underway with a bad defeat to West Ham at the Emirates on Sunday afternoon.

There were a few surprises in the squad: Hector Bellerin missing out with a thigh strain, an injury that is only expected to keep him out of action for a few days and he should return for the game against Palace, while Alexis made the bench after impressing since his return from holiday.

It was a side that should have been capable of much more.

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 09: A general view inside the stadium ahead of the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and West Ham United at the Emirates Stadium on August 9, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 09: A general view inside the stadium ahead of the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and West Ham United at the Emirates Stadium on August 9, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Kicking off, playing towards the Clock End, Arsenal were immediately put under pressure by the Hammers who won the first corner of the game with just two minutes on the clock in what was a fast start from the visitors.

But by the time seven minutes were on the clock, Arsenal had regained control and West Ham had two players in the book; more an indication that the Hammers were struggling to cope with the quick movement of Arsenal than a deliberate ploy to try and hurt players or ‘stick it up ’em’ however Martin Atkinson would soon forget his cards and start awarding non-free kicks to West Ham.

The first half was both entertaining and intriguing but decidedly lacking in clear-cut chances; Arsenal coming closest when a Ramsey effort, from outside the box, took a wicked deflection and looped onto the bar after half an hour but as halftime approached Arsenal did what they do best – concede from a set-piece with the keeper making a poor decision to come for a ball he couldn’t get.

Until that point Arsene Wenger had looked decidedly unimpressed with Arsenal’s decision-making and as the break got closer, he looked positively disgusted with how things were turning out.

The second half was frustratingly familiar as well. West Ham were happy to let Arsenal have the ball and try to hit on the break, offering the Gunners an early chance to show if they have, finally, learned how to break down a side that packs the edge of the box. They haven’t.

Two nil came via a rocket of an effort, drilled low into the corner of the net by Zarate, after a careless touch from the Ox gave them back possession when the ball should have been easily cleared. Cech, perhaps not unreasonably, had assumed the danger had passed and was heading to the other side of his goal, unable to adjust himself in time to get down. He probably didn’t get the memo about how things are different here than at Chelsea.

Wenger responded immediately by bringing on Theo Walcott for Francis Coquelin before bringing on Alexis for Mathieu Debuchy ten minutes later. He was going all in, knowing what a blow this already was to their title ambitions with 90 minutes of the season not even completed.

Midway through the second half, Olivier Giroud was knocked out cold in a clash of heads in the West Ham box, requiring that he was put in the recovery position. Predictably, as soon as he came around, he was deemed fit to carry on. No matter how much Arsenal needed a goal, he should not have been allowed to continue and football still needs to take a long, hard look at itself when it comes to head injuries.

Beyond that, Arsenal hit the side netting but never really tested Adrian beyond a few routine saves. It was a poor start to a season that still promises so much, one that highlights a number of lingering, familiar flaws.

Never do like to make it easy for ourselves, eh?

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Writer. Feminist. Dreamer. Gooner. Owner of DailyCannon.com, writing about Arsenal since 2008. Sometimes found in the Guardian, Vice.com & elsewhere talking queer issues, politics & football. If in doubt, assume sarcasm.