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A few thoughts on the West Ham United match

December 29, 2014

I’m nearly always confident of Arsenal getting a result at Upton Park as the club have a pretty good record there and a pretty good record against West Ham overall. However, this season with Arsenal’s up and down form I thought this match would be a lot more difficult than it turned out. West Ham were playing reasonably well having already beaten Liverpool and Manchester City at home this season. West Ham had also won six out of the last seven at home and combined with Arsenal still finding it difficult to get their overall play right it looked a tough match.

Team : Szczesny, Debuchy Booked, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin Booked, Flamini, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Chambers – 90), Cazorla, Welbeck (Gibbs – 85) , Sánchez Booked – Substitutes Gibbs, Podolski, Ospina, Walcott, Chambers, Campbell, Akpom

The best back four Arsenal have with maybe Gibbs in place of Monreal. Flamini and Coquelin playing together, it seemed that Arsene thought the same as well, yet Arsene always goes for the win.

Arsenal didn’t start the match on the front foot, but then Arsenal hardly do nowadays and the first real moment of the match came in the fifth minute when the ball was cleared from a West Ham corner was hit straight back in by Song who was waiting on the edge of the area and the ball flew through a crowd of players into the net.  Song was not showing any sign of celebrating, which is just as well as the referee’s assistant had seen three West Ham players in offside positions and disallowed the goal. This did not go down well with Tony Gale. The commentator said a reprieve for Arsenal, reprieve from what? It wasn’t a goal. I also got the feeling that because Song had scored allowing the goal would have made any anti-Arsenal headlines that little bit sweeter for the media.

Now the rules change so much in football nowadays, I’m not really sure if the goal should have stood or not, but if there are three players standing in front of the goalkeeper and one is actually letting the ball go through his legs on the way into the net and this is deemed NOT interfering with play, then I don’t know what is.

Having resting some players against Chelsea it told me Allerdyce thought his best chance of a result over this two match Christmas period would be at home against Arsenal. So we had a Christmas London derby fixture with a noisy crowd of almost 35000 packed into Upton Park. A match full of passion, fight, no shortage of good football up to and around the penalty area’s.

West Ham took the game to Arsenal in the first half yet did not really create much.  Most of the game was being played in the middle third of the pitch by both sides. As for Arsenal it was just a Cazorla free kick that was headed wide by Koscielny when both he and Sanchez got in each others way, maybe Arsenal should have done better there.. At one stage Arsenal had three successive corners (            ) fill in blank as to what happened with them. Both Arsenal and West Ham when they did put some nice moves together the moves simply stopped with the final ball in or around the area being the wrong ball. Coquelin made a superb tackle on Downing and yet the referee gave a free kick to West Ham that they nearly scored from when Carroll controlled the ball, but shot across the goal and Koscielny cleared.

Then with five minutes to go before half time and Arsenal slowly beginning to get a foot hold in the match Santi Cazorla burst into the West Ham area, was fouled and the referee had no hesitation in awarding a penalty. West Ham fans who were baying for blood at every decision the officials made did not like that decision, nor did the West Ham players. Winston Reid basically had a fit and Big Sam was seen walking round talking to himself “What an absolute fucking disgrace”  It was quite nice having a referee who giving a few decisions Arsenal’s way. Santi stood calm, run up and took the penalty with a shot low into the left hand corner and put Arsenal 0-1 up. This was followed by boos ringing round the ground and “Same old Arsenal, always cheating”

Within two minutes of the first goal the lively Oxlade-Chamberlain powered into the area and crossed low and hard for Welbeck to get a simple tap in 2-0 Arsenal!!

HT 0-2

Nine minutes into the second half West Ham reduced the arrears when Kouyate headed the ball in to make 1-2 and we wondered if Arsenal would collapse. The fact is Arsenal didn’t and save one cross that just flew past the out-stretched boot of Sakho West Ham did not really create that much until a really late flurry of free kicks. In turn Arsenal created several chances of which a few were well saved by the West Ham keeper Adrian. Welbeck with a strong run down the left ala Henry into the box and Adrian saves his shot. Cazorla had a shot from edge of the area saved by Adrian. Sanchez dribbled and crossed that found Oxo and his diving header was well saved by Adrian. Cazorla to Sanchez who shot low from the edge of the six yard box – again Adrian saved.

Towards the end of the match as I said earlier the referee was giving West Ham a lot of free kicks which is sort of right up Allerdyce’s alley as far as football is concerned. Up went everyone including Adrian for the free kicks and as the ball was pumped in high towards Carroll yet each time Arsenal held steadfast. Arsenal did get a couple of breakaway chances but could not turn them into goals.

Arsenal held out for the last five minutes under pressure from West Ham to gain victory unlike against Liverpool.

Full time 1-2.

I thought Arsenal showed that they can battle and defend when needed. OK! Arsenal conceded a goal, but teams do concede goals at times. Playing what most would say is Arsenal’s first choice back five for the first time this season Arsenal defended well. Koscielny makes the defence so much more solid. The man is a total boss on the pitch. Wins headers, great interceptions, read the game so well and has such a good touch for a defender. He can run out with out with the ball as comfortable as you like and his passing range is top quality, surely one of Europe’s top defenders.

Mertesacker benefits no end when Koscielny plays. Monreal had a good game as did Debuchy, who I understand has never lost when he has played in an Arsenal shirt. Coquelin had a very good match also. In fact yesterday was one of the few games when not only did all the players including Szczesny have a good game, but they had a good game as a team as well. The football is still not quite there just yet. However, we are told players are due back and the window is just around the corner. Hopefully the next few weeks will see new signings Ozil, Ramsey and Theo back actually playing and not sitting on the bench,

So for me this was a very pleasing victory with it coming on top of the victory against Queen’s Park Rangers giving Arsenal six points out of six over Christmas and Arsenal are currently on a run of seven wins in all competitions right now.

Now it’s onto New Years Day and another tough match away at Southampton. Once again, what team will turn up? If it’s the team that turned up against West Ham then we should win.



One Comment leave one →
  1. Geoff Platt permalink
    December 29, 2014 20:30

    First of all it’s great to read your insight into Arsenal on a regular basis, I don’t always agree but you always give a good fair point of view, please keep them coming.
    Secondly Tony Gale is a disgrace to match commentating, he was totally biased against Arsenal and I’m not sure what Debuchey has ever done to him but he obviously dosnt like him! Sky need to sort him out or send him off to the knackers yard!

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