I had the fear about yesterday’s game. We had a tough old tie against QPR because we didn’t really rotate any players and we fought the game out until the last 20 minutes. We also didn’t make any early subs and we unfortunately dropped down to ten men.
West Ham on the other hand bent over to Chelsea and wound down on easy street against us. You almost felt that game was so causal Jose and Sam were in on a deal… like the good old days when Sam used to bend over to United. He loves to align himself to managers who have influence.
Anyway, the starting line up was an interesting one. We had our best back 5 out. Kos returned to the lineupist, Monreal floated out to the left and Debuchy moved out to the right. In midfield we saw a first start of the season for Coquelin. He lined up with Flamini and Cazorla. Up top we had Chambo, WELBZ and Sanchez.
We were under the kosh from the off, West Ham were slightly fresher than us and they have a pretty exceptional home record this season. Alex Song was playing for himself as per usual and it was to the detriment of this team mates at times.
The first bit of controversy came early on. From a cleared corner, Alex Song smashed home a volley from the edge of the box, it whistled low through a sea of players with one of the claret shirts jumping the ball to avoid it hitting him. Song turned away (clearly hoping a show of respect like that will earn him a move back) only to realise his goal had been chalked off for offside.
Fat Sam kicked off like a lunatic after the game claiming he couldn’t understand this. Sam, when one of your players is in an offside position and they have to jump the ball, it’s pretty clear they’re interfering. Tony Gale on commentary was also beside himself…
‘I know he was interfering, but you’ve seen them given’
Tony, my dear, that’s not a cogent argument. That’s bemoaning a prosecuted looter because you’ve seen people steal trainers and get away with it in the past.
Anyway, I smiled. Alex Song went into Hollywood overdrive after that… like the kid who gets booted off X Factor then has to be dragged off singing for one more chance… ‘I BELIEVE I CAN FLY, SIMON, I BELIEVE I CAN TOUCH THE… SIMON, PLEASE, IT’S MY DREAM’.
The game was a thriller, it was mostly controlled by West Ham, but I couldn’t help think that was maybe some form of tactic. We weren’t going to be able to go toe-to-toe with a more rested team, so we attempted to absorb pressure. Risky, because West Ham came close on numerous occasions. It was reassuring to see that the keeper had obviously been practicing crosses into the box because he totally nullified the looping ball with some assured keeping.
I felt that we looked the more threatening in front of goal. Oxlade-Chamberlain was driving through their defence whenever he landed the chance. Sanchez was having a field day everytime he picked the ball up. The power and speed that guy has is incredible, it’s even more exciting because he’s sublimely technical as well.
We opened the scoring from a penalty. Reid had chunked over Santi and it was the second clear cut penalty of the week. Sanchez didn’t take the shot this time, Santi did and he buried it sending the keeper the wrong way. Minutes later we killed (LOL) the game when the Ox slipped in a perfect ball for WELBZ to tap home.
The second half opened with something that made the game not so over. Tomkins took the ball past Santi, his cross beat Monreal,Cheikhou Kouyaté beat Debuchy to the header and it looped over the keeper.
The fight was on. In typical Arsenal fashion, we were incapable of closing out a game with calm controlled football. The game turned into an end to end thrilling scrap. Wenger didn’t make his subs until really late on, as per usual, frozen by fear. He once again opted to bring on defenders to protect the lead in the 82nd. We invited on more pressure but luckily we managed to keep pace with the game and hold onto the lead. That over exertion though… it might well catch up with us. We’re not being smart with energy conservation. West Ham was never going to be easy, but we could have done more to make it easier.
Guys needs to take a look at the goal again and reassess his stupid comments post game. Truly pathetic. That goal shouldn’t have stood, it’s not a debate and it shouldn’t be raised as one. In Italy, they get 20 minutes with the manager to discuss the game. Would be nice if we had that over here.
‘Sam, you f*cking idiot, take a look at that video. Which part confuses you?’
Would be even nicer if the pundits could challenge the managers and their stupid attention deflecting comments with video. The punditry club in England is an old boys club. No real challenging questions, no real post match drama. For me, the press conference after should be like Question Time with Paxman. A smart, well researched presenter (or presenters) challenging the manager on what they saw. Too much of a our TV is led by the clubs. The Premier League are an outrageously well paid supplier of TV. Give us something worth watch. TV execs, give us commentators who know their football, Tony Gale said, ‘Song didn’t celebrate, I don’t like that, what was he with the club, about 2 seasons?’… no Tony, he’d been with us since he was 17. It’s just plan ignorance and it’s rude. The paying customer deserves better. The public are smarter than the panels these days, so give us people who will educate us… like they do in the rest of Europe.
Gotta say, I thought he was excellent yesterday. The backroom team look like they’d identified the long ball as an issue and they’d addressed it by bringing Chezzer into the game. He was strong in the air, confident and he bailed the back four out all day long. Super player from the Polish keeper.
Wenger still needs to work on our in game management. I know his subs worked in the sense that we won the game, but ultimately, that was a mess in the last twenty, same as it was against Liverpool and QPR. You’d hope we work on contingency systems in training. How to change shape to kill a game. We have all the attributes to be able to do it seamlessly, great player, good technical ability… experience. We just flounder when called upon to protect a lead. One can only assume that’s because it’s not part of our plan.
I thought he did well. He started off quite shakily but he grew with the game. I’ve heard good things about him behind the scenes as well. He’s not an ego. Quite smart, big student of the game and hungry to make a name for himself.
We’ve continued to use the same group of players. Short term, that’s massively beneficial because we’re winning points. Long term, I fear that just like last season, it’ll bite us when we’re lacking freshness in the key months of the year. Sanchez, WELBZ, Per and Santi have all been ragged like boy racer cars. That’ll cost us at some point, which is a shame.
Interesting that Song had come out and admitted that both he AND Cesc wanted to join in the summer (article), but the manager passed.
“I would like to have gone back (to Arsenal) but they didn’t want it. That’s life.
“I don’t hold any grudges against them. Cesc Fabregas equally wanted to go back back to Arsenal but they did not want to take up the option to buy him.
“It is surprising. When you see what he has done at Chelsea, he is even better than before!”
It’s interesting, because there was a rumour going around that Cesc never wanted Arsenal and it was some weird PR cover up (Rumour came from an exQPR player). You have to say, when you’re starving, you take a sirloin steak when it’s offered to you. I’m not fan of Song, you know this, but jeez, if the option was nothing and he was available, I’d have taken him. Same with Cesc, if I’d know we weren’t going to play Ozil through the middle, I’d have had him all day long.
A pretty good day for us. Spurs and United could only muster a draw. City dropped points and so did Chelsea and Southampton. A good day to be an Arsenal fan! Next up is Southampton, so the perfect chance for us to make up some ground on our top four assault. A few people said they don’t think we’ll hit those heights… I’d be very surprised. We have Theo, Ozil, Ramsey and Jack all coming back into contention. That’s just too much goodness for the rest of the pretenders. Even Geoff was agreeing on the Song thing… and he hates him!
Onwards and upwards… see you in the comments.
P.S. Apologies if you’re suffering with slow Le Grove service. There’s a problem with the server, the guys are looking at it and we’ll be migrating to a new one tonight… so full speed ahead!