Sunday, 31 October 2010

Arsenal Just About Beat West Ham 1-0.

First things first today and as it stands Arsenal are second in the table, five points behind Chelsea after 10 games. Yesterday's 1-0 home win over West Ham may not have been a great performance but the three points were gained from a very unlikely source and that's the most important thing.
When I say it was an unlikely source what I mean is that the assist for the goal came from the right foot of Gael Clichy. His attacking efforts in recent seasons have been very limited and usually involve him overlapping the right sided attacking player, before cutting back and passing the ball infield.
Yesterday he managed to cut inside himself and hang a ball up invitingly for Nicklas Bendtner and Alex Song to attack six yards out from goal right in the centre of the goalmouth.  Thankfully Song managed to get his head to the ball and he couldn't really miss. West Ham appealed in vain for offside but the goal was quite rightly given and with only two minutes left Arsenal had the three points they desperately needed.
The team selection was as expected with Laurent Koscielny coming in for Johann Djourou but all the other players who started against Man City last Sunday keeping their places. It meant that Theo Walcott was on the bench despite the fact that he scored two goals against Newcastle on Wednesday night in the Carling Cup.
I made my way to the supporters club in Bray to watch the match as it was on Setanta and I refuse to pay extra money to have that channel included in my package. By the time the match had finished I knew exactly why I made that decision as the punditry of Pat Dolan and the co commentating of Stewart Robson were so biased against Arsenal that it was unbelieveable. They are both ex Arsenal players and as was pointed out to me by Arseblogger yesterday, Robson is employed by ATVO.
If Pat Dolan is to be believed then Arsene Wenger is a football snob who doesn't rate Walcott because his touch isn't as good as some of the other players in training. I've heard Dolan complain about how well the youngsters at the club are treated these days compared to when he failed to make the grade at Arsenal. He obviously has a chip on his shoulder and in my opinion he should not be allowed to be a pundit when Arsenal are playing. I missed his comments before the game but I was told he called Maraoune Chamakh a cheat and while I think Chamakh has bought a couple of his penalties quite easily he is far from a cheat.
After listening to Dolan's inane ramblings we were then treated to Stewart Robson's very obvious bias against Arsenal during the commentary. I don't know if he has a chip on his shoulder but he certainly has a very low opinion of most of the Arsenal players. He accused Chamakh of going down easily to look for fouls when he was clearly fouled but when Carlton Cole went down untouched it was clever play from him according to Robson. When a West Ham defender went through the back of Chamakh early on, Robson claimed that there was no foul as he had got the ball. He may have got the ball but it was after he had gone through the player first and that is a free kick and a yellow card in my opinion. 
I could write paragraph after paragraph about how biased he was against Arsenal and it's not the first time I have heard his opinions either. We were live on Setanta earlier in the season and he spent the whole game criticising Arsenal players and showing that same bias that is quite incredible for a supposedly neutral observer. When you factor in that he is employed by Arsenal it's actually quite incredible and I will be contacting the club to let them know that I think it's conduct unbecoming of a club employee.
Anyway, enough of my moaning and back to the real business of yesterday's game.  I had mentioned yesterday that I hoped Arsenal would set out from the start to put the game to bed early but it was evident fairly early on that no such thing would happen. West Ham put virtually every man behind the ball and invited Arsenal to break them which we found it difficult to do. 
In games like that it's usually Cesc Fabregas who makes the difference but he had a poor game by his very high standards and I can't remember ever seeing him caught in possession so often in a game. When we eventually managed to carve West Ham open in the first half Bakari Sagna cut a beautiful pass back to Cesc who looked certain to score from 12 yards out in the centre of the goal. Robert Green made a fine save from Cesc's effort but an on form Cesc would have absolutely buried the ball.
There were plenty of other chances as the game progressed and Green made plenty of saves too in what was probably his best game of the season. Occasionally West Ham looked dangerous but to be honest Lukasz Fabianski had very little to do in the Arsenal goal and we never looked likely to lose our clean sheet. When Walcott came on for Denilson with 25 minutes left Arsenal upped the pace as Nasri moved infield to play alongside Cesc. I thought Denilson had a very poor game and I lost count of how many misplaced passes he had which is very unusual for him.
As the game progressed Cesc picked Walcott out with a ball behind the full back and he raced through on goal. I was sure he would score and he did everything right but his shot to the far corner hit the post and rebounded into Green's arms. At that stage I thought that we wouldn't get the goal we so badly wanted  and then the news came through that Chelsea had come back from a goal down to go 2-1 ahead of Blackburn.
It then becamevital that Arsenal got that win and the players pushed forward in wave after wave. To be fair to West Ham they defended very well most of the time and when they didn't Arsenal somehow managed to attempt that extra pass in the box or they just made a mess of things. The tension was unbearable but at least we knew there would be plenty of injury time after all the substitutions, injuries and time wasting.
With just over two minutes to go I suddenly wished that there was no time to be added at all as Song got us that goal I described at the start and the Arsenal players and fans were ecstatic.  West Ham tried their best to get an equaliser and it was nerve wracking every time the ball came near our box but thankfully that was fairly rare as Arsenal played possession football as much as they could.
The positive aspect of the game for me was the result and I was fairly impressed with the performance of Song too. Besides his goal he was the Arsenal player who seemed to want the ball all the time and he was also able to find plenty of space to work in. Fabianski again performed well and when Manuel Almunia eventually returns from his elbow injury he cannot walk straight into the team. We managed to keep our second league clean sheet in a row which is no bad thing either.
Sure we didn't play particularly well and quite a few of the players were missing at times but we got the three points to stay second in the league. The defence stayed solid throughout the game and it was a far better result than the one against West Brom when we last played poorly at home. I'll leave it there for today but I'll be back early tomorrow with some more thoughts on the game.
See You Tomorrow.

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