West Ham 2 – 2 Arsenal, same old Arsenal?

West Ham 2 – 2 Arsenal

What on earth happened there? To be honest, I am still in shock in our 2008/2009 style of defending a lead in the last two games and that’s 2 points dropped in the Champions League (which works out at £350,000 of prize money) and 2 points dropped in the league against a club 2nd bottom in the league whom even Liverpool have beaten. It was a disaster of a result and despite going 2-0 up, we didn’t really deserve it at that point – don’t get me wrong – I was very happy to be 2-0 up at half time, but West Ham looked like they were more up for it than us… reminiscent of Fulham last year… okay maybe that’s a bit harsh.

Two players who I don’t think played well enough were Diaby and Eboue – they both did well overall, getting into good positions, but their final ball and general decision making was very poor and it’s no wonder that both were substituted for Bendtner and Eduardo eventually – the only question being why so late on in the game.

I’m a big fan of playing 3 attacking players in the front 3 and I really think it’s important to our system to do this. We have enough defensive players when we play 4-3-3, with the middle three being a defensive shield – so when we play with two in Arshavin, Van Persie and have Eboue on the right, we don’t do justice to our system and this has been true in all the games where we have drop points.

Against Man United, we played Eboue, Song, Denilson and Diaby – against Man City, we played Song, Denilson, Diaby and Cesc, and against West Ham, we played Eboue, Song, Diaby and Cesc. Please please play a third offensive player in the forward roles instead of playing a defensive player – we’re much better going forward and attacking than we are at defending. With all three of these games, having an extra attacking player would really have put West Ham on the back foot.

The line up yesterday was:

Mannone

Sagna – Gallas – Vermaelen – Clichy

Song – Diaby

Eboue – Cesc – Arshavin

Van Persie

The good news was that we had a fit again Nasri, Eduardo and Bendtner on the bench along side Silvestre, Gibbs, Ramsey and a fit again keeper in Almunia. I’d expect Almunia to start on Wednesday as it’s quite unfair that he’s on the bench. Mannone’s last couple of games have seen him make 21 year old mistakes and I’ll touch on that later.

We did go ahead when a great cross by Sagna was palmed into Van Persie’s path who finished first time on the volley – that’s the sixth goal from the Dutchman this season and he’s starting to play better now. We were 2-0 up by half time when a great corner from Van Persie was nodded in by Gallas – and our centre backs have 9 between them – that’s impressive.

The second half was atrocious by us – I don’t think I’ve seen a worse 45 minutes by us this season – albeit West Ham really came out in the second forty five. The goal that made it 2-1 was terrible from a goal keeping point of view. Mannone really should have caught the ball, knocked it out for a corner or punched it away. He did none of them and basically pushed the ball in front of Carlton Cole.

The penalty which ended up making the result 2-2, was a terrible decision. We were admiring how strong Carlton Cole had been throughout the game, hold us off and keeping possession – and it was very interesting to see how he tumbled in the box so easily, considering his play outside of the box. Not great from Alex Song, who was very good generally through out the game and even worse from Cole and even worse from the referee, who really did make some shocking decisions.

On the game Arsene said:

“We complicated the game a little bit. We had five or six chances in the second half where we missed the final ball. That’s where we have to learn. “It is very frustrating. West Ham did fight until the final second of the game and I never had the feeling that the game was won, even if we were completely in control because I saw the attitude of West Ham, they were not giving up. You know that if you make a mistake you will be under pressure and the crowd got behind the referee’s decision and then it’s always difficult away from home.”

On the refereeing decisions, he continued:

“I believe that if you start to consider the decision the referee makes in 80 minutes is influenced by the 60th minute, the 61st, 62nd, then you don’t need a rulebook. Just make your own rulebook; the next decision is influenced by the decision the minute before. We have to keep the positives today. We played well and we are a strong team, and we want to learn of course to finish these games off. That is basically the most important lesson of the day.”

And Arsene really did feel like it was points dropped yesterday:

“It is a major missed opportunity of course. In our job you have no luxury to miss opportunities. It is our job to get points when you deserve them and sometimes to get points when you don’t deserve them.  Today we didn’t get the points when we deserved them and that means we have not made the maximum of what we should have done. We have a great chance [in the Premier League] this year but you cannot repeat this kind of performance and not come out with the three points. It is not complacency. We just have to continue to play in a rigorous way, respect the game we love and the pass. That is what we forgot sometimes and we have paid for it. We play at top quality and at the moment we do not get rewarded for what we produce. In the Champions League it can happen that you are 1-0 up and are caught on a free-kick in the last minute. Today it has not to happen.  At 2-0 we lost the way we want to play the game. And when a team comeback to 2-1 and you are away from home you are always under threat to go to 2-2.””

Arsene says we need to learn from this – but we really should have learned from this last season. With Chelsea and United playing next weekend, surely we really really really have to beat Sp*rs at home next Saturday to ensure we’re still up there.

I am confident we can do it this season, but the real question is – are the team?

  • dave

    if we keep giving these lower level teams chances they are going to take them we need to kill teams off 2 up we shouldnt be drawing if we want to win the title

  • Richiebacardi

    I thinks we need to take a lesson from Barca v Zaragoza…just looking at them on Sky…ruthless.

    I was a bit angry but calmed down and thought to myself…last year we would have maybe lost that game…we’re learning. I hope they got a good tongue lashing from AW, and we see less of that in the future!

    Ooo Ahh O Ahhh!!

  • sam

    I’m a believer in Wenger, but yestreday he didn’t do his job. He should have adjusted his team based on West Ham’s subs, but he instead waited till 88th to bring Ed in!
    Conceding goals from poor teams you’ve scored 6 against is not going to win you trophies. Just not good enough defensively.
    And please, let’s not talk about “learning a lesson”, that’s what the last 4 years have been about.

  • VJ

    i agree dev drops for mannone eboue and diaby against Sp*rs and replace them with almunia nasri and eduardo respectively, no more fuking around get the early drive for the second and third and then play possession football its high team we start playing like a proper big 4 team and crushing the opponents like we used to in the old days and stop prancing around like school kids who are bored because they are winning and just riding time out, wenger needs to makes sure clichy and sagna gets back with the pace of lennon down the wing and the insticts of defoe and keane, not the mention the height of crouch we need to be at are best defensively to beat tottenham, fabregas needs to give a rally call this week.

  • Leeroy.N

    I was at Wembley watching the NFL game yesterday, So I missed the match! I will have to look over the game and highlights to form a serious opinion of how or where w lost the game. But we will be punished if we do not learn to finish off and or for a better word “destroy” teams like we are capable of. I beleive in the score one more rule. Just aslong as it doesnt leave you open. I will watch it tomorrow and see where it went to pot. Come on you Gunners.. play to and past your potential.

    Win, Lose or Draw.. Gooner til I Die!!

  • Fabrez

    That was painful…how could we drop points on a day so many title contenders did? I was very very angry and frustrated as I watched our old defensive failing surfacing once again. I was sat there in front the telly next to a Man U fan and he didn’t even rub it in…it was that shocking! I felt as if we were just ok in the 1st half but the difference in quality gave us 2 goals. Ok…so not a totally fabulous 1st half but we more or less played our game n got rewarded.

    Then the second half…we were as flat as a Coke that was left without a cover for months! I was really disappointed that we didn’t come out hungry to get the 3rd. No killer instinct whatsoever! I was thinking, “A 3rd and the game is over…surely!”…yeah right… I just couldn’t see it coming and Mannone makes a mistake to compound a flat 2nd half…great! Don’t get me wrong…Mannone has done well enough to be Arsenal’s number 2 and put Almunia under some pressure but he’s not yet good enough to be number 1. He is a hell of a prospect tho. Carlton Cole…he just decided to take a tumble…Song didn’t need to tackle the lad…but he barley did and bang…penalty…but definitely not enough in it to be a foul in my opinion.

    But it’s like I could have seen it being 2-2 after looking at our body language a few minutes into the second half. It’s a mental lapse that we continuously seem to have. And as Ronaldo-less as Man U are, they would have NEVER let that 2-0 advantage slip. If I see or hear, “must learn from that experience” again, I’ll just get upset and angry bcuz I’m so so so so tired of hearing it. It could give me an ear-bleed one of these days.

    I’ll just end by saying I’m trying to stay positive…we need to as supporters…as Arsene once said, “If you eat caviar every day it’s difficult to return to sausages.” And boy-o-boy wasn’t Alkmaar and West Ham eating sausages! Kinda looking fwd to Wednesday then Saturday…let’s get back to winning ways! And yes Dev! Agreed that we need to be using offensive players in an offensive formation! Eboue needs not be in that advanced role on the right! We had Edu and B52 on the damn bench! We need to be more positive away from home sometimes!

  • Berth

    Serious minded players are needed. Players like Nasri, Eduardo and Rosicky and not players like Ebuoe and Diaby with no conviction in their style of play. I heard one of Ashley Cole’s interview; I know his not popular with us fans but he made something known. He mentioned that what motivates Chelsea to win is trophies especially with the ageing team they possess. That bit of hunger is what the team (Arsenal lacks). Wenger should find what motivates the team and most importantly he should call on senior players like Arshavin, Cesc, Gallas, Rosicky and V.P to step up and allow their experience to reflect on the team.

    It won’t be surprising to know that most of the players in the Arsenal squad could be playing just to enjoy football rather than playing to win all (like V.P)

  • JDD

    After Going 2-0 up Drawing Is Obviously A Bad Result But By The Way We Played Then One Points Is A Good Result.But Still We Should Be Taking 3 Points From A Team Second Bottom.Up Next Liverpool.I Wonder Who Wenger Will Play????I Would Go With..

    Almunia
    Gibbs Silvestre/Vermaelen Senderos Eboue
    Nasri Ramsey Wilshere
    Vela Eduardo Watt

    Fabianski Silvestre/Vermaelen Gilbert Traore Rosicky Sunu Bedntner

    What Do You Guys Think????

  • salaquin

    While this team undoubtedly has bags of quality, it is clear that we do not have a team of real winners. Having quality is not enough in the Premiership. I know I might upset a few (maybe a lot) but Cesc is not Arsenal captain material. Saying this does not take away from the quality of the player but if we’re honest, he doesn’t really lead the team. Wenger has plied us with a load of tosh about leaders all over the park but for me, we lack THAT GUY who says “lets keep the ball, make them work and probe for the finishing blow”. The players should know how to close a game given their age and experience but we’re lacking in this department severely and Cesc, as good as he is, is not not the rallying type need for this team. I think a lot of it is to do with the nice guy “palms and teeth” culture that’s been grafted onto the team. I just feel that the Chelsea and Man U players are under no illusions as to what is required to win in terms of determination and ruthlessness. We seem to think that having good quality players is enough. I can’t really put my finger on why we seem so complacent and take leads for granted but maybe it has something to do with having quite a few players who haven’t won much up until now. If you don’t think its a worry that for a few seasons now, our fighting spirit does not show until we’ve been pegged back in a match that should have been out of sight for the opposition, you are overlooking perhaps the most serious weakness in our team. And one more time please tell me, HAS DIABY IMPROVED OVER THE LAST FEW SEASONS? Don’t worry, I’ll wait. The sooner Nasri’s back the better. Carlton Cole would have been a perfectly acceptable replacement for Ade.

  • jien

    JDD..i think wenger will still stick with his policy of using youngester in the CC

    i will more likely be:

    gilbert-senderos-silvestrre-gibbs
    randall-ramsey-coquelin
    merida-watt-vela

  • Gunnersgun

    It is not the result, it is the performance.
    ARSHAVIN WAS THE WORST, Cesc was not his usual self may be of family problem.
    may be Arsenal SHOULD ENGAGE GEORGE GRAHAM AS SPECIAL ADVISER FOR THE DEFENCE. He is the best DEFENDER.
    already leak 13 goals in EPL; 4 goals in CPL.
    Always the same excuses: didn’t get final ball to kill the game. Where & when is the ruthlessness coming ? (always like to buy midfielder who can play wide & not deadly striker e.g Torres from LFC)
    If the team can grind out, the game is already won.
    Mr AW pls don’t say need another goal to kill the game (IN CPL final, LFC 3-0 down, 2nd half come back & win). Work on the defence & balance it up with beautiful soccer
    Why other teams can grind out 1-0 win & the end of season they have trophies (Chelsea under JM).
    AW likes to play players out of position, y he didn’t do to diaby as a lone striker baffles me ???
    If continue to let Diaby involve in defence, we will definitely get more similar result & forget about winning trophies.
    Pls Mr AW don’t be TOO stubborn in substitution, learn from J. Mourinho
    Arsenal have many wide players who should supply crosses & also drift in instead of depending on Sagna & Clichy to supply crosses. They are defenders.
    AW should take a major part of the blame (team line up, substitution)

  • http://kierandelaney.net kierandelaney.net

    I thinks we need to take a lesson from Barca v Zaragoza…just looking at them on Sky…ruthless

    This kind of comment is mental. You want Arsenal to play more like Barcalona? So you’d like them to lose 2-1 to a romainian team in the champions league at home?

    It’s easy to criticise the team for not playing well or thrwoing away two points – Arsenal let themselves down. But they didn’t lose. They got a point. They’ve got a game in hand that could pull them to second in the league. It’s not all doom and gloom.

    Compare them to any team you like, but just remember even the mighty Barca have awful matches – losing to the worst team in the champions league at home could potentially be more damaging to Barca than earning a draw away in a London derby will be for Arsenal.

  • patrik

    Resulting from the latest seething in the blogs after the unfortunate draw against West Ham, I am requesting a chance to express some views on Arsenal which I have for awhile.

    My view is that we did not fail against West Ham but rather that we have progressed as a club for the last 4 seasons despite not winning trophies. My view is we are not on the wrong track this season, we actually are doing well.

    The draw on Sunday was really bitter but I still retain vivid memories of 3 games which happened during the ‘98 and ‘02 seasons.

    - The magic game with three goals from Dennis Bergkamp… but we ended up drawing that game
    - The game we lost at home against Blackburn (1-3)
    - The last minute equaliser from, again, Leicester City in the ‘02 season

    What I want to emphasize is that even in successful seasons, there were still many bitter and heartbreaking moments. We actually won the league title(s) after the turn of the year – it’s really up to how we do in the last 18-20 games or so that will define our season.

    Right now it’s the players’ job to do their best to keep up (stay at worst 5 points from the top) or even win all their games to lead the league going into the year 2010.

    Of course many moaners said that we are competing with more teams now (back then it was us and Man U). But look at how all the teams, and I mean all of them, have dropped many points already this season. And I can argue for myself that we are the only team who dropped points undeservedly.

    As to my second idea, all I will say now is that what other manager has…

    1) managed a team under such a tight budget to reach CL final and semifinal

    2) produced another crop of young and great players

    3) managed an injury prone team to lead the league for 8 months before that evil moment against that evil team

    4) sold greedy, want-away, and unneeded players for a large chuck of profit

    5) given us the most beautiful footballing team in the history.

    (The answer is no one apart from the Lord Wenger, of course).

    It’s funny too when you compare the SUCCESSFUL Arsenal teams to this current squad of how they do in Europe. This current team is actually doing a lot BETTER than the class of ‘98, ‘02, and ‘04. So unsuccessful and incompetent? I’d say hell no.

    We just have to pray that we will get a break this season (bad calls, injuries, lucky goals…..), – the sort of break we have not had for a long long long time.

    Moaners say that we can’t look at the past. But a great manager is defined by ALL his actions, both the past and the present.

  • Pete

    Thats exactly whats annoyed me the last day or two. Don’t get me wrong, the result was disappointing and the players probably feel it more than any of us, but its the fans that have been absolute misery guts in the last day or two. You’d think their pets have died or something! All of a sudden there’s comments like “our season is over”, “the manager got it wrong”, and “it was the keepers fault”.

    It seriously baffles me how some supporters only chip in with their comments when there’s a disappointing result, but when we’re on a winning streak for a few weeks they’re no where to be seen. You can criticise Diaby and Eboue, but the fact is they are squad players, so they’re not going to be as good as the lieks of Rosicky, Nasri and Eduardo. But if they’re fit to start and other better players aren’t then there’s not much that can be done is there. I’d still rather have them in the squad then not have anyone to cover for someone whose injured.

    The fact is you’re going to have days like this in football. No team wins every game all the time. If you can accept that then you better get out now because you’re not going to cope with the rest of the season. We’re going to lose and draw more games because thats the nature of the beast. But there will be wins too, so its all right. You cant just be along for the ride when we’re hammering Everton away 6-1. In the Unbeaten season, similar thingswere being said when we drew games we “should have won”, which is an invalid phrase because nothing is certain in football. Its after these sort of games where we show our real support the most. All the complaining wont change the result of the last game, all there is is the next game.

    Come on Gooners, we know better than to be like this.

  • patrik

    Majority of people have claimed how ruthless Chelsea are against the traditional middle to weak teams. But no one has been able to explain how Wigan trashed them or how Aston Villa withstood the so called Chelsea barrage and edged past them. ManU lost to Burnley and indeed, nearly lost to Sunderland at Old Trapshite. How does anyone explain that? In this league as it is now, anyone can beat anyone. That makes the league interesting, not dominance. If your team can beat other teams playing football; in that lies your pride. There is no pride in winning against minnows who cannot string 3 passes together successfully. So, when other teams manage a draw against your team, kudos to them for trying and not just laying down to die. That Should galvanise your team to work harder and not be complacent. You, the so called supporter, moaning and criticising would not help. If care is not taken, you will end up demoralising, and completely eroding the confidence of, your team. How can that help your team? Immagine if you take the dagger out everytime your child or your wife makes a mistake? You will end up loosing them; that¿s a fact. If ManU and Chelsea were treated the same way as the referees treat Arsenal (hashly, with biaz & extreme prjudice), I wonder how they would cope?

  • Debs

    Like I said earlier, we’ve missed one chance, but there will be others- no doubt about that. As long as we take it when it eventually comes, all will be forgotten. There’s still a longgg way to go, and we always tend to do better anyways when we’re under the radar, almost like the forgotten men. We’re still in a very strong position guys- no need to pull out your hair just yet!

  • Berth

    Whatever Parik and Kieren. The truth is that it happened on Tuesday and also again on Sunday – that alone is enough to make one panic. I understand that we should not be fretting over this little slip up but then again we fear this pattern; this sort that saw us draw 5 matches in a row last term. That pattern is what I feel most people are scared of and not the fact that Man u drew at home or Chelsea lost to Wigan. Its about us and not them.

  • Gbengs

    The team needed that win to boost the trust of there fans that this year is our year.Only to see them drop point (2)knowing that it was to be a good weekend for us to shoot high up the table with a game at hand which with what i saw them play in the second half, could likely end up messing it up again with Bolton as West H.

  • Pete

    Guys, sorry if that last post was came out a bit too strong. Wasn’t trying to have a dig at anyone in particular. Everyones entitled to their opinion, but sometimes it seems us fans are our own worst enemies at times. We get over excited with our wins, and in turn set ourselves up for major disappointment when results don’t go our way.

    Just like to re-emphasise my point again, but more calmly this time lol. Despite how Diaby and Eboue played, it’s too easy an excuse to just single out those two players in particular, especially as they’ve contributed goals and assists already this season. The team as a whole should have killed the game off, period. If we’d scored a 3rd goal in the 90th minute and won the game, no one would be criticising any of the players, despite conceding the same two goals. I just think its too unfair a judgement. If you apply that same thinking to RvP, Arshavin and Cesc, then they should be slagged off for not scoring when they had chances too, but we all know that would be unfair to do. Song had a good game, but his one mistake gave away a vital penalty. Every player makes mistakes, but if all the players on the pitch make one or two mistakes each then collectively it can hurt our reseult, and thats what happened Sunday.

    Contrast that with past games. We were terribly lucky at Fulham to have won that game. We played badly, somehow got the 3 points yet weren’t criticised. We played brilliantly in both Manchester games, deserved to win, yet lost both. Thats how football is. Best teams aren’t necessarily the winners or the champions.

    The one mistake fans of big teams make is thinking they have a God given right to win absolutely every game and every competition, Chelsea and Man United supporters are particularly prone to this in recent seasons. By doing that supporters end up deluding themselves regardless of what team they support, not to mention disrespecting the opposition team by highly underestimating them. West Ham have good players and they deserved to be level after the final whistle. Sometimes you got to be big enough to show respect toward the opposition, take these kind of results on the chin and put it behind you because the next game comes round fast. I still have to remind myself that we didn’t acutally loose the game, we still got a point, so if you want some labour party-style spin on it then we’re still on a good unbeaten run in all competitions lol :P

    As Leeroy always says at the end of his posts, “Win Loose or Draw, Gooner til I Die”. Lets make that our motto here at WOA. If you’re going to take the wins, then you got to take the draws, losses, injuries and unfair decisions as well.

    Peace!

  • JDD

    Arsenal.com-Nasri and Fabianski to start Liverpool game,Wilshere and Traore injured,Eduardo and Bendtner to feature.Lokks like it will be a young team with expereinced players

    Fabianski
    Gibbs Silvestre Senderos Gilbert
    Nasri Coquelin Ramsey
    Vela Bendtner Watt

    maybe???

  • Debs

    Anyways, On another note, did you guys see this Ramsey goal v Liechtenstein the other day? It was his first goal for the full team. It was from a free-kick. Brilliant goal!

    youtube.com/watch?v=Vjtb9SM-JJY

  • Fabrez

    Yeah Debs! What a goal that was! The manner in which he took it reminded me of Becks… And the pass was a killer pass… that would have been a great assist! Ramsey keeps getting better. I feel as if he’s really learning from those around him and he’s hungry. I like his attitude. He’ll be a tremendous player for us in the near future!

  • wills

    I hope Wenger goes for Eboue instead of Gilbert. Liverpool are probably going to go with Babel on the left and Gilbert is nowhere near good enough to contain him.

    Possibly…..

    Fabianski
    Eboue-Senderos-Silvestre-Gibbs
    Nasri-Coquelin/Randall-Ramsey/Merida
    Watt-Bendtner-Eduardo

    If Wenger has said that both Nik and Eddy will start, and he’s not mentioned Vela then he may be on the bench unfortunately. I can’t see all three of them starting for some reason.

  • JDD

    he said they will feature he didnt say whether that would be from the beginning or not.I forgot Merida is back from the u20 world cup i hope he starts because he is a real talent i would say with a couple games under his belt he could be good enough to play in the prem/Cl on a weekly basis.

  • Debs

    Yeah Fabrez. Brilliant awareness to know the pass was even on! Can’t wait to see him play week in week out for us in the near future!

  • Richiebacardi

    I thinks we need to take a lesson from Barca v Zaragoza…just looking at them on Sky…ruthless

    This kind of comment is mental. You want Arsenal to play more like Barcalona? So you’d like them to lose 2-1 to a romainian team in the champions league at home?

    Keiran…I don’t think I was being mental at all. I wasn’t attacking the team or wanting them to play like barca, no way do I want that.

    In fact what I want (and what I should have stated) is for us to play like Arsenal.

    Correct me if I’m wrong but In the last 5 or so years the only way we could keep a lead is to keep attacking. Every time we sit back and try to defend our lead it sooms to go wrong (well almost everytime)

    When I made the comment about being like barca I meant just to keep playing our style. It seemed that the lads on the last two games were testing themselves…maybe trying something new, to see if we could defend a lead…and we ended un drawing.

    Calling it mental is a bit harsh…it’s just an opinion, with reasons I guess I should have been clearer about.

    Apologies