This was an opportunity Arsenal could not afford to squander if the Champions League places were to remain a possibility and, by hook or by crook, they made it count. For the moment they will not care how, even though this was a flat performance and a lively West Ham side created enough clear chances to leave with a win that would not have been remotely unflattering. Mikel Arteta was thankful for Bernd Leno, Alexandre Lacazette and the lines and vectors of VAR.

Arsenal’s threat had been sporadic when, 12 minutes from time, Bukayo Saka cut in and fed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. His shot was deflected off Declan Rice and up to Mesut Özil, who nodded astutely across for the substitute Lacazette to sweep the ball home. Their celebrations were immediately cut short by an offside flag but, after a delay of several minutes and numerous different dissections of toe and elbow positions, the decision was correctly reversed. It could be a significant moment in Arsenal’s campaign, putting them within five points of the top four and giving at least the impression of genuine momentum.

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