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Hammered!

A Happy New Year to everybody out there, I hope your respective 2008s are successful, joyous and trophy laiden. I opined last week of my fondness for the Boxing Day fixture, however, the New Year's Day fixture is one that I look upon less favourably. Especially when my match day begins through bleary eyes, awaking on a mate's living room floor, still in last night's threads with the remnants of an ill advised vodka and orange juice sitting precariously next to my head. Of course, New Year is the time for resolutions, a time we all pledge to improve ailing health and trim bulging waistlines. So I began my New Year with a fry up in Addiscombe; followed by several nerve settling Guinnesses before the visit of West Ham.

With my brain still slightly functioning with the effectiveness of an inflatable dartboard, it did not take the Gunners long to blow away some cobwebs. Rosicky solicitously sought out the ball in central midfield, playing a beautiful ball down the line to Fabregas. The diminutive Spaniard looked up and swung in a precise cross, which Eduardo chested down and consummately volleyed past Green to maintain his record of scoring with every single touch he has ever had on a football pitch ever. A goal after 72 seconds was just the tonic, Arsenal rarely drop points from such positions, particularly at home, and we all settled in for an easy afternoon. However, the Hammers had other ideas as Arsenal appeared to to lose themselves in mid afternoon reverie. Firstly, Carlton Cole cut inside a rusty looking Justin Hoyte, Toure deflected Cole's shot inches wide of the far post. West Ham came forward again, as Noble's original strike was charged down, Arsenal did not clear their lines and Mark Noble's cute dink dropped just wide. After April's debacle in the same fixture last season, it was time for the Hammers to taste a small portion of our bad fortune.

West Ham would go even closer a few minutes later, Noble's right wing corner was headed on by Anton Ferdinand, only to see the ball bounce gleefully away from the goal line via Gael Clichy's stationary boot. While we are not generally used to watching an away side dominate in terms of chances, Arsenal fans were treated to a more familiar sight when Freddie Ljungberg hobbled off injured to a rousing reception. Though on this occasion, the fact that he had contributed precisely zero to the match was more infinitely more pleasing. One Premiership goal in two and a half years for Freddie now. West Ham still carried a threat, particularly on set pieces. Another Noble corner was only half cleared by Toure and Matthew Upson blazed wildly over the bar from close range. So when Arsenal made a rare forray forward on 18 minutes, the result was perhaps inevitable. Gael Clichy curled yet another sumptuous arcing ball from left back, which defeated Ferdinand and Upson, Adebayor gratefully raced onto it, nodded the ball last the advancing Green and then somehow contrived to hook the ball in via the post from the touchline. Quite a finish which had the home crowd collectively exhaling in approval. It's a measure of how greatly his finishing has improved since he arrived two years ago.

A John Pantsil bicycle kick whistled just wide, but one could sense that the wind had been unceremoniously removed from their sails. This did not deter the travelling Hammers faithful, who were good value throughout. Not content with singing John Pantsil's name to every tune going, a rather witty chorus of 'we hate Tottenham more than you.' Was followed by, 'sit down, if you love Tottenham.' When the Arsenal fans rose dutifully, the Hammers response was a cruelly brilliant retort of, 'you do what we tell you to.' The sedcond half was played out at virtual testimonial pace. West Ham had neither the desire, nor the imagination to circumnavigate their fatigue and find a way back into the game. Arsenal, playing their tenth fixture in a month, were happy to sit on their lead and resume the match in second gear. This left the fans to really find their own entertainment, a moribund home support did offer one gentle witticism at the introduction of Theo Walcott, 'we need more foreigners!' Whilst Dean Ashton felt the cruel mockery of the home crowd, having chased the ball across Arsenal's backline for what seemed an eternity, he desperately lunged at a Toure pass to Hoyte but missed by inches, leaving home prone on the floor to the general amusement of all except Ashton.

With the Gunners in cruise control, only two real chances of note arrived in the second half. Eduardo disgraced his Arsenal record by heading an Eboue cross wide from close range, when Upson appeared to be pulling him back. Wenger simply must punish Eduardo for this indiscretion, where does he get off missing the goal? I think he should be locked in a dark room for a week and be made to listen to James Blunt on repeat for a week. Or something. A smart move between the lively Rosicky and Adebayor on the left culminated in Adebayor bending a shot just wide from inside the area. Rosicky nearly added a third in injury time when he was played in by Hleb, but he took a heavy touch and Green rushed out to block Tommy Gun's attempt. But in the end it was a routine win and exactly the type of game we needed at the end of a hectic period. I would describe the performance as professional without ever being sensational, basically we did exactly what was required and nothing more. The game lacked intensity and was really all over at the interval, which was just as well. Given the hush of the home support, it was probably about all we could handle.LD.




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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday January 2 2008

Time: 1:21PM

Your Comments

Sh!t game, **** atmosphere, **** hangover, The Wig and Gown has **** service and felt **** with with man-flu. Still, another good 3 points.
hatespur
i really am happy with the way we scored early but i still feel we should be ruthless when it comes to goalscoring.at 2-0 up we seem to be content with the lead and step a bit off the gas. hope arsene addresses dat
gunnerchi
Happy New year by the way.
hatespur
happy new year to you guys
gunnerchi
we moan when we make it too hard for ourselves and leave it late to win and we moan when we score early and kill the game by 18 minutes! either way its 3 points and when you are going for the title every win is vital. Hey LD, I live near Addiscombe. not much else to say about the place is there?!
gazzap
Not really gazzap, but the missus lives there so I kind of have to be nice about it!
Little Dutch
Good one gazzap, but I dont think anyone is moaning here. It was a professional performance, and the West Ham travelling faithful seem to be a reasonably witty bunch. One of the reasons why your reports are always a good read, LD, is the off the pitch flavour. Keep em' coming.
prits
gazzap i dont c any one moaning here but i am merely voicing out my opinion
gunnerchi
"It's like a funeral" was another witty riposte by the pearly queens. Although I do have to agree, the atmosphere was woeful. I thought it was poo against the Spuds too. Perhaps our prawn sarnie brigade don't like the cold much. The row in front of me was 80% empty with 8 minutes of normal time remaining yesterday.
hatespur
not on here no but I have read other blogs today mostly relating to why the atmosphere was poor given we were 2-0 up. sorry I did not make that clearer.
gazzap
For some reason The Emirates sounds really quiet whenever we play the smaller teams. The performance I thought was excellent yesterday. We ou played them. In the second half they were dead. I'm only disappointed because we didn't add another goal. 3-0 would have been nice.
WouldYouBelieveIt?!
Boo Hoo to those complaining about more goals or performance. The team scored early this time so that the nervous supporters could watch with calm this time plus they showed us the beautiful passes/creativity we have been missing for a long while. Only Hoyte looked a little rusty but the rest had a very good game. Regardless of the number of goals, bagging the 3 points was the most important thing and keeping a cleaning sheet! By the way, awesome article LD. Cheers!
CoastarianGooner
Fergie was also moaning about how quiet Old Trafford was yesterday so maybe it's the product of collective hangovers and tired minds. Eduardo wouldn't have missed the chance from Eboue's cross if he weren't held back. Should have been a penalty without doubt. Freddie wasn't entirely useless he produced a smart save from Almunia before he went off. Rosicky has played very well in the last couple of games and it was Cesc's best performance since he got back from injury. We'll need more end product from our play than we got in the last 70 minutes of the game yesterday but confidence should be strong. Happy New Year one and all - with any luck I should be reading LD's report(s) on how the won the ? trophy(ies) before too long.
Amos.
After the nerves of the pompey, chavski, spu*rs, and Toffees games I personally welcomed the fact that we got an early goal and had killed the game before the half hour mark it meant I could actually sit back and enjoy a game instead of spraying spittle like a lawn sprinkler and generally freaking out like a rabid simian.
nikolaijns
It was nice to hear (at least through the television) the home fans give Freddie a bit of love....moreso than his own teammates it appeared. Saw a closeup of George McCartney and Freddie having words prior to him going off injured....clearly called him a dick, but received the classic Freddie scowl that could only be interpreted as 'Go F*** Yourself George' but likely in Swedish. With not a lot else going on in the match, this provided at least a bit of amusement.
SUX2BU
LOL SUX2BU, I missed that part I would have enjoyed it for sure ;)
CoastarianGooner
WOW. Just finished watching pool's game against Wigan. They were held 1-1. Do you guys still think they are title contenders?
CoastarianGooner
Nope. Not even AW does. If you read his lastest quote he says Man U and Chlesea could still catch us, but Liverpools name wasnt metioned.
gunnerkid107
CoastarianGooner, I watched it too. Bored to death. I was surprised how some of their changes went wasted, almost like watching Arsenal last year. And the Wigan keeper did quite well too. So yeah they're too far off the pace in chasing us and ManU. With 4 key African players out, let's hope some teams help us throw Chelsea out of the race too. They face Everton home and away in Carling Cup (in which they use some first-teammers and not Kids XI); Spurs and Liverpool at home, Portsmouth away. With Essien/Drogba/Mikel/Kalou out (who’re arguably even more vital to their team than Kolo/Eboue/Song to us), plus existing injuries, now THAT is a crisis. In fact I expect us and ManU to take the opportunity to widen the gap during the ACN period.
Louisa
Sorry, typo - "some of their chanCes"
Louisa
The thing with Chelsea.. though is that they will hav no hesitation in buying players even though they will be stop gaps in a sense.. I mean.. stories abt Berbatov and Anelka moving make me laugh.. but the fact is that I think Chelsea will be there or there abouts.. they have luck,money and at most times are efficient enuf.. but yeah Liverpool seem to be a long way out now..
arsenalrulz4ever
Title contenders....definitely ManU, and I agree that Chelsea may make a push after some spending....what about Tottenham? Bwaaaahahahaaaahahahahaahahaahhahhahhhhahahaaahaaaaa!!
SUX2BU
I think Chelsea will buy their way out of trouble in the Jan window, so they still present a threat for the title. That they are still in the race despite so many injuries is a very good performance so far.
prits
Arsenalrulz4ever, you can't be thinking Chelsea's new signings would fit in straightaway! They chase every single trophy and send out their first team for Carling Cup so they'll get tired. ANd like I said, their fixture list isn't exactly kind to them. ManU have a tougher period than ours too, including Portsmouth and Man City at home, Spurs away (well that's not that big a deal given their defence now). That's why I'm optimistic there, our injuries permitting, especially in defence.
Louisa
Louisa - you can never say.. I think we shud look at our team in any case.. we should have a good Jan, only Man City away will be a tricky game.. aside from that, I dont think we shud hav a big test. Is Carlos Vela coming back in Jan?
arsenalrulz4ever
Chelsea have squad depth despite injuries and players going for ACN. Look at the "next 11" it's like another first 11 that can do well in EPL. What they lack now is their power to win games plus luck. Those two ingredients are fading away slowly with time. We all knew it well end one day cause those ingredients don't win you EPL year in year out. By the way arsenalrulz4ever, nothing has been said officially on Carlos Vela. What is out there is just two speculations ; he is training with the team while on his winter break or his work permit has been sort out and AW wants him to start fighting for his place in the remaining of the season.
CoastarianGooner
Glad you beat the scum but your happy clappy fans are embarassing,know Highbury was quiet but Emirates is a joke.
MFC67
Assuming you support Millwall, I was at the Oldham and Huddersfield games this season and the atmosphere wasn't exactly brilliant there either. Face it, atmosphere at ANY Bristish ground is a thing of the past. Anyone who thinks their club is an exception is kidding themselves.
Little Dutch
 

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