West Ham United 1 (Diame 21) – Arsenal 3 (Giroud 41, Walcott 77, Cazorla 83)
Man of the Match – Santi Cazorla (Arsenal)
Thuggishness 1 Class 3. Oh Yeah! Carroll, aerial bombardment, physical battles, defensive susceptibilities, lack of mental strength. All of that was thrown right out of a window on a gloomy evening in East London, by an Arsenal side, who answered most questions posed by critics before the tough London derby clash against West Ham United at Upton Park.
The yellow kit was one of few changes to the side that played Chelsea and Olympiakos over the course of the last week. Per Mertesacker recovered sufficiently in time to be passed fit to start. Francis Coquelin was dropped to the bench, as Aaron Ramsey got a start, and Olivier Giroud was preffered ahead of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
The yellow kit, with brown, or is it maroon shorts, returned after a hiatus of over a year. It was last used in May 2011 in a 3-1 loss at Stoke. Of course, there was the ill fated match in Milan, but that was an all yellow kit, and it was nice to see the Gunners strut their stuff in yellow.
The monsters of West Ham, all huge, powerful masses of humanity, with brutes of bodies, made a few changes themselves, with the biggest and brutest of em all, Andy Carroll starting up front. At the back, George McCartney started at left-back.
Arsenal started brightly rolling things about in midfield, playing tippy-tappy, with West Ham unable to get stuck under our noses. Olivier Giroud had the first real chance of the match, in just the second minute, testing Jussi Jaaskelainen.
However, completely against the run of play, it was West Ham infact who scored, surprisingly enough, without being too physical, but with some neat movements. McCartney played the ball into Diame, who easily turned past Ramsey and shot into the far corner. The Senegalese midfielder, however, was booked for his celebrations.
And, he should have probably seen a second yellow card, when he clattered into Arteta 7 minutes or so later. And Diame was the scapegoat for West Ham, as he lost possession in midfield to Arteta, who played in Giroud. The French striker played a lovely ball to Podolski, and Giroud came at the end of his cross, to finish a lovely move he had started.
It was his first goal in the Premier League, and by the celebrations it was clear how much it had meant to him. He almost did a Debuchy, by attempting to French kiss Podolski, but the German was not having any of it, and eventually settled for a hug! 😀
West Ham looked more threatening in the second half, and tried to use more of their long ball tactics to get Andy Carroll to win headers and set up his supporting players. Matt Jarvis had a chance, but he volleyed it over the bar. Carroll beat an outstretched Mannone but nodded wide, with the goal gaping in front of him.
Kieran Gibbs had to leave the field, injured after seemingly having had a thigh strain, and there were a few sighs when Andre Santos, and his cuddly self came rambling on to the pitch
However, Arsenal soon regained their composure in the centre of midfield, and looked to create chances, but to little avail. Arsenal withdrew an ineffective and tired looking Gervinho, and replaced him with Walcott. There was a lengthy delay when Ricardo Vaz Te, stumbled over Mannone and dislocated his shoulder, similar to Puyol’s injury in midweek against Benfica.
Kevin Nolan had a great chance, when clean on goal, after being played marginally offside by Jenkinson. It took a fine last ditch tackle from Mertesacker to ward off the danger. Minutes later, Olivier Giroud’s exemplary vision spotted Walcott, and he played a fine through ball. Walcott easily beat the trailing West Ham defenders for pace, to slot home the crucial second goal of the match.
His wild celebrations bought him a yellow card as well, which is kind of a shame. I think this rule needs restructuring. How can a player hide his feelings when he has just scored a goal. Cazorla then almost set up Giroud, who made a run past the defenders, but his shot was too close to the keeper, and was saved.
Anyways, this goal bought much needed calmness to Arsenal’s passing, as they kept hold of the ball for longer periods, with West Ham chasing shadows. Kevin Nolan got another chance, having been played in, at the edge of the penalty box, but he lashed his effort over. West Ham soon paid, as Walcott won the ball in a tangle, to set up Cazorla, who unleashed a sweet left footed strike into the top corner of Jaaskelainen’s goal.
The Spaniard with ambidextrous feet, had been the creative thrust all day, despite being heckled all day by the Hammers’ midfielders, and it was a goal he thoroughly deserved. Cue some lifting, as it was Andre Santos’ turn this time to lift the pocket sized dynamo clean off the ground.
By then, West Ham had Carlton Cole on, but Arsenal closed down, on what is a fantastic win at a very very tough ground to come to. So far, in 7 games, Arsenal have already played Stoke, Liverpool, Manchester City and West Ham, which are some of the toughest places to go to. Next up, Norwich City. Tough one that!
Positives, ah well, too many. First, we look really good in yellow. Please get rid of that purple crap! Giroud scoring his first goal is a treat to sore eyes. He has shown he has the quality, and just needed to score to get going. He already has 2 goals and 4 assists, which isn’t in the least bit shabby. Defensively, I thought we were solid overall. Yes, we were harried all the way by Carroll, but none of his headers were dangerous.
He just seemed to win the balls, but there were barely any ocassions, where Arsenal did not have them covered, which is a positive. Having seen Mitroglou score a cheap goal days earlier, it was good to see the improvement so quickly. Vermaelen looked error free all evening. Jenkinson did have a bit of a struggle, but nothing much to worry about.
In midfield, Arteta was immense as usual, and so was Ramsey. Unfortunately, Cazorla stole the show, leaving very little light being shed on Ramsey’s performance. Podolski was a battering ram all night, and Walcott’s return of a goal and an assist would have done wonders to his confidence, and left Arsene Wenger with some more thinking to do.
Negatives, very little. Gervinho looked a bit tired, and that is understandable. Gibbs is a slight concern, and hopefully he will be back fit in time for the game against his former club, Norwich. I think the goal could have been avoided. Ramsey looked out of sorts at that moment defensively, and Mertesacker was in a position, where he could’ve been braver. But, this is just grabbing at straws on what was a solid display overall.
Bring on the Interlull!
Jai Arsenal 🙂