A London derby, away…. 3 points on offer and 3 points duly earned…
The starting line up was as predicted:
Eboue – Djourou – Koscielny – Clichy
Wilshere – Song
Walcott – Cesc – Nasri
With a bench of Shea, Gibbs, Denilson, Arshavin, Vela, Chamakh and Bendtner
Rosicky was omitted in favour of Carlos Vela, and you would have to wonder why considering we had Chamakh and Bendtner on the bench too – either Carlos Vela is in the shop window and we’re trying to loan him to the highest bidder… or Rosicky had an injury or something niggling…
Of course, before the game there was a lot of speculation about whether or not Avram Grant would still be manager after the game – and potentially being replaced by Martin O’Neill – we weren’t sure whether that would be good for us or not, would the uncertainty galvanise the squad and would they be able to spring a result against all the odds. For me, the news that Scott Parker was not in the squad was big as he is one of their best players and it definitely gave the fans a lift before the game started.
We started the game very well, with an immediate seizing and control of the possession, from the outset, closing down and not letting West Ham have any space. The front four of Walcott, Cesc, Nasri and Van Persie has been our most successful attacking quartet so it was good to see them re-united… and it didn’t take too long for us to get in our groove, with Cesc combining well and becoming the central hub that is he forte.
We took the lead early on in the 13th minute, with a good move and goal – the ball going out to Walcott on the right, who squared it into the middle, with Nasri purposely leaving the ball for Van Persie – the Dutchman duly taking the opportunity and finishing with his right foot with pinpoint accuracy. It was an excellent goal with his “chocolate leg” as he calls it! But I am happy that he took it on with his right and he did so well to connect and score in one move. The dummy from Nasri sublime in the build up – with Theo making the right choices today.
It’s an interesting one, as Theo does have a Jekyll and Hyde-ness about his play – sometimes he makes the right decisions, plays well, shoots when he has to and sometimes he drips over the ball. But today was one of his more inspiring performances, picking out the right pass for RvP to slot the ball home.
Nasri was named the player of the month for December and he continued in his rich vein of form with some sublime inter-play with the rest of the team and although he starts on the left, his forays into the middle of the park and general movement is a big asset to the team. A drive through the centre saw him slip in Van Persie who struck against the bar – an excellent move, unlucky for it to not end in a goal. It was so important for us to capitalise on the domination we had, and we managed to get a second before half time.
Van Persie’s movement was sublime throughout the game, and he moved out wide a little to receive the ball, and was pushed a little further out – personally, I thought the ball was going over the line – but he kept it in and squared it into the middle where Bridge and Walcott were… a yard behind became a yard in front and little Theo’s pace out witted the lacklustre ex Man City defender and he nipped in to score the 2nd.
Djourou looked a little rusty to me, but he has played more games than his quota and perhaps it’s a little fatigue.
The second half was less explosive but we maintained the pressure and passing. The main talking point being the penalty – which was awarded when Walcott chased a loose-ish ball into the box and Wayne Bridge slid into him. Van Persie stood up and dispatched the ball into the back of the net.
At 3-0, there was no coming back for West Ham…
Arsene summarised the performance and commented on the flow of the game:
It became pretty comprehensive because I feel on the whole we had a very strong first half. That certainly affected West Ham’s morale and in the second half it looked as if it were a bit more flat. West Ham in the second half didn’t put us under pressure, didn’t really get out of their own half, and we always looked like we were closer to scoring the third goal than to conceding one. And from then on it became a comprehensive victory. But we had a good, mature performance today.
He also reflected on the games tomorrow and the pressure the other team will now be under:
I think it’s in our hands. In the fact that we play all of the big teams at home and that we have a strong run at home now. We have played many away games, so now we’ll see that it is down to us. Tomorrow we have many big games, but we have done the job today. So we can watch them in a relaxed way a little bit. But we are very interested in one because it is a big test for Tottenham and Man United tomorrow.
A good day’s work, time to enjoy… MOTD here we come!