Ozil, Cech performances reflect Arsenal's dismal opening display
Arsenal's Premier League campaign started in disastrous fashion with a 2-0 home defeat to West Ham United.
Petr Cech was the big summer signing for Arsenal -- a keeper, it was said, who could transform them into title contenders -- but it was Cech who was guilty of mistakes on both West Ham goals at Emirates Stadium.
The excellent Dimitri Payet set up Cheikhou Kouyate for the opening goal before Mauro Zarate struck in the second half to drastically undermine suggestions that this could be the season Arsene Wenger reclaims the Premier League title which has eluded him since 2004.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Petr Cech, 4 -- It was most unfortunate that the first significant act of Cech's Arsenal career was to be caught out by a superb Payet delivery, as the former Chelsea goalkeeper rushed out and failed to prevent Kouyate from heading home the opening goal. The second shot on target he faced in an Arsenal shirt also went in, as Cech's misstep allowed an eminently saveable effort from Zarate to beat him. A catastrophic debut.
DF Mathieu Debuchy, 5 -- A minor injury to Hector Bellerin gave the Frenchman an unexpected chance to restate his credentials, but the rust showed having played one game since the start of April as he struggled to contain floating playmaker Payet. Debuchy was guilty of a couple of sloppy moments and it was no surprise when he was sacrificed to make way for Alexis Sanchez as Arsenal grew desperate.
DF Per Mertesacker, 6 -- Mertesacker was alert to the threat posed by West Ham in the early stages with a couple of key interceptions showing the value of a proper preseason -- a contrast to last year's post-World Cup efforts. He was given the occasional problem by West Ham's varied attack but neither goal could be ascribed to him.
DF Laurent Koscielny, 5 -- Cech's rash and self-defeating charge from his line was the defining image of the opening goal, but Koscielny was just as culpable, allowing Kouyate to run completely unhindered and convert with his head. It marred an otherwise acceptable performance, although like the rest of his teammates, Koscielny was far from his best.
DF Nacho Monreal, 5 -- Monreal had Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey, Sanchez and Mesut Ozil all playing ahead of him for spells during the match, so it was tricky to establish any kind of consistent approach in the rare times he crossed the halfway line with any kind of intent. He joined Koscielny in letting Kouyate run free for the goal and left little impression on the game.
MF Francis Coquelin, 6 -- His distribution was mixed in what was an uncharacteristically sloppy team performance by Arsenal, but Coquelin was typically enthusiastic in his pressing and harrying in the midfield depths, even if he afforded Payet a bit too much freedom. Once Arsenal were two goals down, his skills were no longer needed in the hectic pursuit of goals and he was replaced by Walcott.
MF Aaron Ramsey, 5 -- Over the course of the match, the Welshman gradually started to meander forward to join the front four, seeing one deflected effort clip the bar and a drilled shot sneak narrowly wide. He went to the left for the start of the second half, but just when Arsenal were desperate for a bit of control and leadership, he was unable to supply either. Too many moves in the final third broke down and Ramsey was as guilty as anyone.
MF Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, 6 -- He greeted the half-time whistle with an overt show of frustration, and for good reason: Arsenal were 1-0 down, but Oxlade-Chamberlain had been their star performer. His direct running unsettled West Ham from the opening minutes and his slaloms past statuesque opponents became a prominent feature of the first half. But as Arsenal's afternoon unraveled, so too did his performance. One rifled shot into the side netting briefly suggested he could replicate his impact at the Community Shield, but his impotence and wastefulness mirrored that of his team. Was unforgivably nudged off the ball by Zarate for the second goal.
MF Mesut Ozil, 5 -- The kind of performance of which Ozil's many detractors love to cite in evidence against him. Ozil contributed to some neat early moves, flicking the ball around and probing in his usual manner, but as Arsenal lost their grip on the game and their attacks became ever more haphazard, he seemed to shrink, diminishing in the face of the big talent of 16-year-old Reece Oxford.
MF Santi Cazorla, 5 -- Having performed so expertly as a deep midfielder in the second half of last season, Cazorla's return to a wide role, hinted at during the Community Shield, was confirmed. His influence on the ball waned as a result, but when he did have possession he showed his usual imagination and intelligence in a first half where he carved out a handful of chances. His return to the centre for the second half failed to give Arsenal the control they so sorely lacked, though.
FW Olivier Giroud, 5 -- A starting role was a show of faith in Giroud after he was benched for the FA Cup final and the Community Shield for Theo Walcott, but it was not repaid. Although he worked diligently and always looked to make clever runs, the best metric by which to measure a striker is goals and Giroud wasted too many chances in the second half. If Arsenal are in with a chance of signing Karim Benzema, Giroud's performance should redouble their resolve to get the deal done.
FW Theo Walcott, 5 -- Walcott came on for Coquelin in the 58th minute and had a good attempt blocked late on, but by the time he arrived Arsenal's plans were in chaos and it wasn't the right environment for the substitute to impress. West Ham were happy to sit deep and deny Walcott the space he so craves, limiting his impact substantially.
FW Alexis Sanchez, 6 -- Replaced Debuchy in the 67th minute. It was more than faintly embarrassing that Arsenal's best hope of rescuing anything from the game came from a player who had only just returned from holiday after his Copa America exertions. Sanchez, who was not expected to play, conjured up a few chances and supplied the kind of goal threat that his teammates seemed incapable of. He was not as sharp as normal, but for good reason.
Tom is one of ESPN FC's Arsenal bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter @tomEurosport