Morning fellow Gooners…
For those of you who watched the entirety of the game yesterday, like me, you may have lost your voice shouting at the players, but moreover, shouting at the ludicrous refereeing decisions that came through the referee, the linesman and even the fourth official. I’m not one for pointing fingers at referees, I understand that they have a hard job to do, the game is fast, they have to be fair, they have to look at the rules. But there are certain things that you expect referees to be better at, and the ref yesterday let the game down, which played right into the hands of West Ham.
The “advantage” rule is something that we tend to prosper more from than other teams, as opposition teams tend to try to stop us playing, especially on the counter attack – but yesterday, the referee was really in no-man’s land when it came to exercising that rule and literally stopping the game every minute or two. Not exactly how football should be played. But it was not only the stop / start nature of the game, but the plain and simple wrong decisions made by the referee and the linesmans – decisions where a player is called offside when he is clearly a yard only. For me, not only did we have to battle XI West Ham players, but we also had to battle the ref too.
After a Carling Cup outing in mid-week, we rotated our squad again, brining in a few players who were rested and therefore, our starting line up was:
Sagna – Squillaci – Koscielny – Clichy
Denilson – Song
Nasri – Cesc – Arshavin
With a bench of Szcznesy, Djourou, Eboue, Vela, Walcott, Bendtner, Rosicky
The first chance of note did come through a Cesc shot from close range, when Sagna cut through into the inside of their left back and squared it to the captain who shot well, strong and hard, but it was saved by the very good Rob Green! Another excellent move again involving Sagna, saw Song shoot, saved and the rebound which fell to Nasri, who was unable to convert! It was one of those games… The first half ended 0-0 and with the attacking intent of the team, you had to wonder how…
It wasn’t the greatest game for Arshavin and you’ve got to feel that his place in the team is in a lot of jeopardy, you can’t have a player who performs this badly week in and week out as a regular first team member – I’d expect the Russian to start against Shaktar in midweek, as his form is better away in Europe than at home in the Premiership, but maybe a player like Vela or Rosicky could replace him against Newcastle at home next week…
For the second half, it was Arsenal all the way, but similarly to the first half, West Ham defended well, their keeper inspired. A moment of magic from Nasri as he launched an incredible free kick towards the goal, with a lot of pace, without much of a run up – over the wall, over Rob Green but cannoned back off the bar!
We were in that zone where we wanted the goal so badly, to the point where our formation was literally a 2-5-3, and it was working, with us really pressing, Cesc had a great shot, which the keeper saved… I can’t remember the exact details, but it was like… Cesc shoots, saved… Walcott with the shot, in off the post, and out, Song with a shot, a header by Bendtner, Cesc with a shot, saved, saved, saved… and you
Squillaci – Koscielny
Sagna - Song – Cesc – Nasri – Clichy
Walcott - Chamakh – Bendtner
With moment to go, Song and Clichy played the “longest one-two” ever seen to man, as they combined to finally break through the West Ham rearguard and put us 1-0 ahead. Song passed the ball exquisitely on the outside of his right foot into the path of Clichy who dummied a cross and then drove into the box – all of us thought he was going to shoot with his right, but instead, he floating the ball with his right into the path of Bendtner and Song, with the latter heading the ball into the back of the net…!!
Celebrations around the stadium were rife and the three points were in the bag…
Arsene spoke about the game and had this to say:
When you win with two minutes to go it is always a relief. We needed to be patient, intelligent and not make a mistake at the back against a West Ham team who had a strong spirit and were well-organised. We showed patience because in the first half it was difficult to get into the flow of our passing so we had to wait until they got a bit fatigued. West Ham kept going and we did as well. We kept the structure of our game right, we didn’t do anything stupid, we kept trying to be intelligent and that in the end got us the goal with two minutes to go.
And with Song scoring the goal – I think that’s three goals in the last four games, we’ve got a new striker on our hands!
Arsene spoke again about the title aspirations:
I believe we have a good chance, yes, but we want to show consistency first. We go step by step. I believe we still need to step up a gear to completely achieve that. But on the other hand you feel as well that there is more to come out from this team because we had a good potential on the bench today and we still have some players to come back. So if we can keep a good injury record then we have a chance. It’s too early in the season [to be sure] but I have belief. We have to show we can handle every single game with the different aspects that the Premier League has. You saw today that we played against the bottom team in the Premier League and it was a real battle. We have to show we can compete like that in every game.
The main man, Kieran Delaney will be back in the hot seat tomorrow, and for now I’ll leave you with those words from Arsene…
Have a great Sunday folks, there’s a Newcastle / Sunderland derby and a Bolton / Liverpool game to look forward to a little later today!