West Ham 1 - 3 Arsenal
After drawing at home to Chelsea, Arsenal travelled to Upton Park to try to maintain their favourable league position. West Ham though, were sitting just above the relegation zone, and so were hungry for points themselves.[quote_right]”Arsenal were purring everywhere, except where it mattered most - in front of goal.”[/quote_right]
The Gunners started positively, showing off some sleek Football across the midfield, and getting the ball in and around West Ham’s box.
West Ham had their early chances, as Jarvis gave Sagna a tough time down the right flank. But some smart stops from Szczesney, and some excellent defending from Mertesacker, Arsenal held on.
Chances fell to Giroud and Walcott on the other end of the pitch, but both could only muster sorry finishes, putting the ball well wide. Arsenal were purring everywhere, except where it mattered most - in front of goal.
The half time whistle soon blew out, and with the deadlock still in tact, The Hammers were walking down the tunnel with slightly more to celebrate.
West Ham stunned Arsenal almost immediately after starting the second half.
Szczesney was tested with a shot, which he could only parry to the feet of Carlton Cole - who tucked his goal away easily. The Pole really should have held on to the initial shot, and Arteta could have done a better job of clearing the ball.
Thankfully, the goal only helped to spur Arsenal on. They turned up the heat, keeping possession well in the final third.
It took until the sixty-eighth minute for Walcott to equalize. He danced into the box, and let off a relatively tame shot, which somehow went straight through two defenders, and a goalkeeper. In any case, the ball was in the net, and Arsenal were deservedly level.
Just three minutes later, the Englishman popped up for a second time. Substitute Podolski whipped in a good cross, and Theo surprisingly jumped to meet it with a powerful header, putting Arsenal ahead.[quote_left]”[Arsenal] were zipping the ball from right to left, and front to back, with pure ease.”[/quote_left]
Arsenal were now looking far more comfortable. They were zipping the ball from right to left, and front to back, with pure ease.
In the seventy-ninth minute, Lukas Podolski weighed in with a goal for himself. The German had looked lively after coming on, and after Giroud brought down the ball and laid him off in the box, he made no mistake by putting his boot through the ball. The shot rocketed into the bottom corner, and Arsenal were finally safe.
The rest of the game was serene. Arsenal had won the game, and West Ham knew it. Ozil and Giroud were replaced by Flamini and Bendtner, in preparation for yet another busy week for Arsenal.
[title]Arsenal Player Ratings[/title]
Made some smart saves, but should have held on to the ball leading up to Cole’s opener.
Bacary put some decent crosses in, and was energetic as usual. Yet, he struggled to deal with Jarvis a times. Not his most comfortable game.
Another faultless game from Per. He timed his tackles brilliantly, won header, and organised the defence well. A real rock at the back.
No issues from Thomas today. He was untroubled by Cole, and did a decent job of keeping everything in defensive order.
Did well defensively, and also done his fair share in West Ham’s half. Gibbs crossed well, made himself available on the overlap, and was pretty much always in the right place at the right time.
Mikel had a mixed game. He won tackles well, and broke up play in the middle, yet there were times when he looked slow to release the ball, putting himself under unneccessary pressure. Should have done better to clear before Cole’s goal.
Another poor show from Aaron. He looked tired, his passes were either too hard, too soft or complete wide of the mark. I’m surprised he started, because he looked like he needed a rest even during the Chelsea game. Now, he has a thigh injury.
Santi was poor in the first half, but great in the second. Initially he was having next to no impact at all on the game, and wasn’t passing as well as he could have. Yet in the second period, he really helped drive Arsenal forward, and managed an assist for Walcott’s first goal.
Walcott: [8.5/10] - MOTM
Much like Santi, Theo was almost non-existent in the first half. But he grew into the game, and took both of his crucial goals very well. He can be unplayable when his confidence is pumping, and it certainly was in the second half.
Didn’t have a direct impact on the game, but looked a lot better by simply keeping Arsenal moving in the final third, particularly in the first half. He made good runs, good passes and looked very comfortable under pressure. Did some defensive work too. Subbed.
Olivier is out of form, without a doubt. He missed more chances today, and looked seriously lacking in confidence. Yet, he managed to grab a good assist for Podolski before being subbed off.
Lukas was full of energy. He came off the bench, closed down well, crossed even better and deservedly got himself an assist, as well as an impressive goal. Great to have him back.
Nick had one chance, and only narrowly put it past the post from a difficult angle. Followed it up by crossing to nobody in the box though.
[title]Theo Blowing Bubbles[/title]
Podolski had a massive impact after coming on, but the real driving force behind Arsenal’s win was Walcott.
Theo’s two goals were well taken, and his energy in the final minutes helped keep Arsenal flowing, and West Ham pinned back. Cazorla and Ozil alternated roles, with each of them taking turns to run the midfield show. Defensively, we were fine, bar the goal which Szczesney should have averted by holding on to his initial save.
All in all though, it was a solid performance, and an extremely important one, taking Arsenal back to the top of the league.
Next up, Newcastle. Let’s be having ’em.
What did you think of the West Ham vs Arsenal match? Let me know in the comments below!