West Ham United may have been defeated 3-0 by Arsenal on Saturday, but Sam Allardyce’s men remained in the hunt for reward from the game right up until the final ten minutes.
A quick glance at the stats – 68 per cent possession in Arsenal’s favour with 19 shots to seven – suggests that the Gunners could have had the game sewn up long before Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini struck in the closing stages.
That they did not had much to do with the superb performance of Adrian, who overcame the discomfort of dislocating his finger in the warm-up at Emirates Stadium to give a fine performance between the sticks.
Before Olivier Giroud gave Arsenal the lead on the stroke of half-time with an unstoppable angled drive, the Hammers No13 made five saves to keep the score at 0-0.
All five came from shots fired inside the West Ham area, showing Adrian’s fine reflexes and shot-stopping ability as he twice frustrated Alexis Sanchez, along with Theo Walcott, Mesut Ozil and Ramsey.
It looked as though his heroics would get West Ham to the break level, only for an outstanding team goal from Arsenal to prove the visitors’ undoing 59 seconds into first half stoppage time.
Five Gunners men were involved in the seven-pass move which ended with Giroud taking the ball off Ramsey to lash home via the far post.
It left the Hammers with a mountain to climb after the interval, and although they did a far better job of restricting Arsenal’s opportunities after the break – they had only four attempts on or off target from the start of the second period before Ramsey’s game-clinching second - they were more clinical with the clear cut opportunities which presented themselves.
Adrian was far less busy in the second half, making only one save from Danny Welbeck right at the game’s end, but he has only had to make more than the total of six, fuelled by that demanding opening 45 minutes, on one occasion this term – at Chelsea on Boxing Day.
The Hammers will be hoping that a bottom half opponent in the form of Sunderland this weekend will allow them to tighten up at the back.