West Ham 1 – 2 Arsenal, we’re through to the next round…

Yesterday’s game was one hell of a crazy game. Arsene took a massive gamble and decided to play both Wilshere and Merida from the start. It was also a surprise not to see Rosicky who most thought would start today’s game, not even on the bench… the line up for the game was:

Fabianski

Sagna – Gallas – Vermaelen – Silvestre

Song

Wilshere – Merida – Ramsey – Eduardo

Vela

The reason I’ve put a 4-1-4-1 was because that was more like the formation we played, with Ramsey and Merida going forward a lot. We did play a much stronger back line than I expected and to be honest, I didn’t expect to see both Gallas, Sagna and Vermaelen all play. I suppose if we had the likes of Djourou and Eboue around, we may have played them. Senderos – injured or not, is out of the manager’s reckoning now, and if he does play it will be as a last result. With the lack of cover to the rest of the defence, we can’t sell the player in January unless we replace him with another central defender – but we’ll talk about the January sales later.

Back to the game, and credit to West Ham for throwing everything at it, they were inventive in the pass and full hearted in their running. They did cross the line several times, going in with unnecessary challenges – such is the nature of an effective game against us – to be honest, I did feel that the referee should have been stricter with what he allowed to go through, as several of the West Ham players were “studs high” and “late” on purpose. The most shocking refereeing of the day goes to the ref that reffed the Man United vs Leeds game. How on earth did Wes Brown stay on the pitch for 90 minutes…

Bad defending by Silvestre (in my opinion), not marking his player and being attracted to the ball, thus leaving the player onside, let Diamanti in to make it 1-0 to West Ham and despite immense pressure from the home team after that, we eventually took control. The introduction of Diaby and Nasri completely changed the game and hats off to Diaby for his consistency and good form – it’s a welcomed surprise, he’s seemed to have turned a corner in terms of how he contributes to the team, and thumbs up to Arsene for having patience.

The equaliser came through Ramsey after some good work from Alex “we’re going to miss you so much” Song played in Vela who in turn luckily played in Ramsey who finished with his left foot. The winner came from Eduardo, who scored with an awesome header – he somehow managed to beat Matthew Upson to the ball and head the ball looping over the keeper from some distance.

For those of you who haven’t seen the goals, view them here:

Okay, let’s listen to Arsene on his overall view of the game…

“It was a difficult first-half against a committed West Ham side. They were well organised, they won many 50-50s, they were quick on the ball and we got caught on the break. In the second-half we played at a higher tempo and our combinations were better. West Ham dropped a little bit and then we were able to make the difference in the final 20 minutes.”

He commented on Aaron Ramsey, who was personally my man of the match along side Alex Song. We do have some incredible talent down at the Grove.

Arsene  said:

“He improves from game to game. I set him a target at the start of the season to play between 15 and 20 games and it looks like he will get that very quickly. He has a chance to play at the moment. He can play on the flanks and at full-back. He is physically very strong, quick and has a good stamina. He is a good dribbler but of course his best position is centre midfield because he is a goalscorer as well.”

Okay, boys and girls… time to ponder a little about transfers until tomorrow, and then time to figure out who will play against Bolton on Wednesday where it looks like we will be without Song, Denilson and Cesc – so Ramsey, Diaby and [enter the name of a defensive midfielder here who can be disciplined in the role]. Anyway, there will be time to think about that later – now it’s time to ponder the next round of the FA Cup, the fixtures which are noted here (and see us travel to Stoke)…

Southampton v Ipswich
Reading/Liverpool v Burnley
Millwall/Derby v Brentford/Doncaster
Bristol City/Cardiff v Leicester
Stoke v Arsenal
Notts County/Forest Green v Wigan
Scunthorpe v Man City
West Brom v Plymouth/Newcastle
Everton v Nottm Forest/Birmingham
Accrington/Gillingham v Fulham
Bolton v Sheff Utd/QPR
Portsmouth/Coventry v Sunderland
Preston v Chelsea
Aston Villa v Brighton
Wolves v Crystal Palace
Tottenham v Leeds

Ties to be played weekend of January 23-24.

So two rounds, two Premiership teams, two away games… thanks goes to the random fixture machine thing-majig…

More tomorrow my friends, til then…

  • Yemi

    We always get the big teams in FA. i cant remember plyin teams like preston or nott’hm, or the likes in a long while !!!! but we are up to the task and hopefully we would have a more robust team by 23/24

  • goonerman

    all of a sudden we look really short in midfield! obviously diaby and ramsey start in midfield then surely it has to be nasri ! i dont know who will play defensive becuase nasri and diaby can both sort of play the role ! eastmond is way to inexperienced to play the position because even against pompy he had a couple of nervy moments and we were cruising the game! the team really battled yesterday wich was good to see and looks like the boys really want to win something! HOPEFULLY we can cope withour our only song lol!

  • wills

    Denilson should hopefully be back soon so I’d like to see him fill Song’s role.

    A midfield of Diaby, Denilson and Ramsey doesn’t look so bad when Cesc is out.

    Glad we got the win yesterday, a battling performance like that is exactly what is needed to win the cup. With United going out it’s a great opportunity for us to win it. I think if we can avoid Chelsea we’ve a great chance of getting to the final.

    I’m pleased Wenger went with the side he did yesterday, playing a youthful midfield with a strong defence behind. To be honest I thought West Ham bossed the midfield battle but couldn’t get any luck with our back four, apart from the goal which Silvestre must take the blame for.

    We deserved the equalizer however maybe West Ham can feel a little hard done by with the final score, but hey, that’s football, they’ll get over it and I won’t complain that we’re through!

    It’ll be interesting to see who plays on Wednesday. Arshavin has apparently got a foot problem which is why he wasn’t on the bench. I’ve got a feeling we could see Vela and Eduardo up front again with Nasri on one side and a midfield of Diaby, Ramsey and Eastmond.

    Bring on another 3 points against Bolton! Chelsea, we’re behind you!!!

  • http://twitter.com/DebsGooner Debs

    We should be able to take on any teams regardless of the stage, if we want to win the tournament.

  • Yemi

    True debs. To win anything, u should be able to beat any team. I pray we get max points against bolton and everton

  • vj

    denilson should be back so he should slot in

  • Arsefan101

    It’s true. We never seem to get easy teams – it makes it much harder for us to progress, but we’ve got to deal with what we’ve got. I don’t think we’ll progress against Stoke, unless we do field a stronger team.

    To be honest, with Cesc, Denilson and Song out, our midfield looks thread bare. Who would Chelsea play if they had Essien, Lampard and Ballack out – actually, they’d play Mikel, Deco, Cole, etc… but the point is, we can play Ramsey and Diaby, but the actual DM role is missing.

    Eastmond looks like the most likely contender, but Coquelin is around too?? We will see this Wednesday how we deal with it.

    If we do play Nasri, Diaby and Ramsey, who would be the defensive midfielder?

  • ny

    Senderos may step in as the DM

  • hello

    .
    Any suggestions for possible (realistic) signings this month??

    Ideally I would like to bring in a CB, DM and striker… I know we wont do this, but i’d just like to make sure we can challenge on all 3 fronts (league,F.A and europe) even if we suffer even more injuries.

    Remember a couple of years ago when Man U brought in Larsson? I think that was a stroke of genius and exactly the sort of signing we need to make… Although he was never prolific and only lasted 6 months Alex F managed to bring in someone with experience at the highest level, someone who could score important goals and someone who wasn’t going to upset the rythem of the team, AND he was free!!

    What do you guys reckon??

    Suggested signings please:

  • devday

    @ny – I know Arsene tried the whole Senderos thing in midfield – I’m pretty sure it was a failed experiment though! I think it’s time to give Eastmond a run out now. At the beginning of the season, I did think it was going to be Coquelin who broke into the first team first, but it looks like Eastmond one of Arsene’s favourites!

  • devday

    @vj – Denilson won’t be back for Wednesday – Arsene said so yesterday

  • devday

    @wills – I agree – definitely a good choice yesterday. I was surprised with the performance of Jack Wilshere, he was bullied out of the game. Nasri made such a difference on the right.

  • devday

    @hello – the transfer window has opened, and it’s time to think transfers…. personally, I think we need a central defender, a defensive midfielder and a tall striker. If we to get those three players we’d be awesome.

    Imagine if we signed Haageland, Matuidi and Dzeko this January, you’d have to put money on it that we’d win the league…

    But from another point of view, we’ve already got Djourou to come back, we’ve got the likes of Denilson, Eastmond, Coquelin and Frimpong in and around, and of course, we’ve got Bendtner and Van Persie to come back.

    So, realistically, I don’t think we’ll sign a central defender or midfielder… the only place I think we may sign is a striker, simply because we don’t have one and RvP is out for the season.

    Arsene was trying to bring in Chamakh, so it’s evident, he thinks we need strengthening in that department too.

    The big question is… but who?

  • Kuka

    Everything in me feels we need cover at the back. I just don’t think Silvestre is good enough. A few months ago we never thought we’d need a mid-fielder, but injuries to Cesc, delison, Rosicky and now Song to ACN has absolutely left us short. I do fear that any injury to Vam and Gallas might do us in. I pray none of them gets injured, but I just feel it’s quite a long season. I was a fun of Sol Campbell. Why not grab him for a free, even if till the end of the season. He is past his best, but he is better cover than silvestre or Senderos. He is big and a natural defender

  • Kuka

    *and with the world cup comming up and England struggling with the fitness of Rio Fedinand, he (Sol) might just want to prove himself and who knows, secure a place

  • Kuka

    @Dev: Eastmond would be a great cover as a defensive mid-field, but am not sure he is worth a gamble at this stage of the season. Everyone will be watching to make sure we grab our 3 points on Wednesday. It’s a massive game so is Everton. I am not sure the boy has the mental strength to handle that pressure. I saw him play for a few minutes at Pompey, and I was not convinced that he can throw in a tough tackle on hard-playing Bolton or stand in the way of Saha or Felani.

  • Sam

    With a fixture list of Bolton-Everton-Bolton in the next 12 days, we need all 9 points. I trust/hope/wish/pray/beg Chelsea will drop at least 2 points by then (Hall away, Sunderland at home), so we may be celebrating on 17/Jan.

    I just hope Bolton don’t appoint their manager before Wednesday. Somehow, teams get a boost from the appointment of a new manager (Owen Coyle seems headed in their direction).

    Which brings me to a point bothering me for the past couple of days: Only totally mismanaged club would fire its coach before lining up a new one in advance! Bolton are in a real mess.

  • devday

    @Kuka – the problem of course is that Nasri, Diaby and Ramsey are not defensive minded, whereas Eastmond is – so surely it makes sense to have someone defensive minded in that role?

  • jeffvip

    Dev, however is Eastmond is too young to handle those rough guy from Bolton?

  • devday

    @jeffvip – true – he is not exactly the biggest but he is one of those annoying players who snaps at your heels, so it’s aggression over physical…?

  • Yemi

    it would be one of diaby-senderos-eastmond to fill that void. and since we are already short in midfield, i think the boss will go for senderos cos of his height and leave diaby to go forward and maybe eastmond later on.
    On signings, we need an impact signing in CF. I think le boss will buy a striker and nothing more

  • Yemi

    apparently diaby wants to fill that song void !!! We’ll have to wait and see

    http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/diaby-i-ll-talk-to-wenger-about-song-role

    We have started again this transfer window trying to know who we’ll buy or not…. I think we should leave that job to arsene cos we would just be raising a lot of dust and hope at the end nothing might come out of it… Remember we all wanted the boss to sign a DM and that song will not be good enuff but he has proved us all wrong, so my take on this one is “arsene knows best” i think the improvement of diaby is another classic example, we also tought gibbs was to young to stand in for clichy when he first made his appearance !!!

  • http://twitter.com/DebsGooner Debs

    Apparently Merida’s signed a 5-year contract with Atletico Madrid. Any truth?

  • Yemi

    @dev: my previous comment has been awaiting moderation for over 2hours now, whats up with that?

    @debs: where did u get the merida news? i tot the boss said only wilshere may leave (on loan) this window?

  • http://twitter.com/DebsGooner Debs

    Just what I’ve been hearing. He’d leave at the end of the season though, not now…

  • goonerman

    yer i saw the peice on sky sports and it says he is going to atletico ! to be honest he plays in the fabregas position and fabregas plays there then after him ramsey plays there because he is miles ahead of merida! if we cant give him football i suppose he has to go and he is allready 19 so i cant see him turning into a world clas player over the next year or 2 because he wont get the chances to play! if weneger was desperate to keep him i think he would of been able to so wenegr maybe doesnt see him becoming the next fabregas! obviously rather of had him at the club but you cant have them all AY !!

  • devday

    @Yemi, it’s when you post a link, it needs to be moderated!

  • sam

    Just read Cesc won’t be back till end of Jan. Hope it’s not true!

  • devday

    @Sam – news coming to me this morning is that Cesc will be out until the Man United game. Ouch, that’s longer than anticipated…