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West Ham United 0 Arsenal 3

No atmosphere quite matches that of a London away match. They have become my favourite appointments in the calendar (Spurs apart, which is a horrible away fixture to attend). You get the feeling a good 90% of the travelling contingent has a favourite local hostillery in which to lubricate their singing voices. Most of the time, we will know colleagues or friends that support the other side too. So it is for us at Upton Park, despite Transport for London`s quite exceptional decision to close all of the tube stations within a 2 mile radius of the stadium, it was with great difficulty that the journey to Stratford was undertaken on the ongoing disgrace that is London Underground, before we boarded the bus to East Ham. Well done TfL, isn`t it about time you poor stricken souls put your feet up and had a nice relaxing strike? Imbeciles. Anyway, despite TfL`s best efforts, we made it to the Duke of Edinburgh pub on Green Street at 3.30pm. Lord Lowe and I mistakenly ordered a jug of Guinness each instead of one to share, so the prospect of having to chuck four pints of Guinness down the gullet before kickoff was met with gusto I assure you!

The West Ham fans rendition of "one man and his forklift truck couldn`t carry Lampard" drew a smile inside the Duke, before we stumbled our way to the Trevor Brooking Stand. The away contingent were similarly refreshed and in good voice, a rendition of "you`re gonna ground share with Tottenham", allied with a mocking retort of "West Ham Hotspurs, West Ham Hotspurs." The pre match air was sour amongst the home fans with strong rumours circulating that Avram Grant was a dead man walking, as well as literally looking like the walking dead. The sword of Damocles looked like it was hanging over the place for the whole day, without the headless chicken running of Scott Parker, the Irons looked like a team that regarded the game as a grinding chore. Arsenal on the other hand, dominated from the first minute. Samir Nasri had cause to warm Robert Green`s gloves when he smashed a long range free kickgoalwards, his shot deflecting off Upson and into Green`s arms. Arsenal did take a deserved lead on 13 minutes when the imperious Wilshere found Walcott on the right; he raced to the touchline and tucked the ball back into the box. Nasri sold a delicious dummy, allowing the ball to pass through his legs and van Persie read the intention perfectly, smashing the ball past Green with his right foot. Van Persie has been back for three months now and we need to see more of this sort of scoring form from him.

The Gunners were in cruise control and should have stretched their lead when Fabregas sent a precise ball over the top of the West Ham defence for the run of Walcott, he held off the advances of Tomkins and Upson but rushed his finish, scuffing straight at Green. The timing and frequency of Walcott`s runs gives us real variety in the front three. Such was Arsenal`s dominance, that when West Ham did eke out an opportunity, it was created by Arsenal! Johan Djourou chronically undercooked a back pass to Szczesny, but the Pole adopted an imposing, Schmeichel-esque starfish to beat Cole`s attempt out. Szczesny impresses me more by the game, utterly unflappable and the third goal stemmed from another of his good traits, swift distribution, which is said to be the quality that attracted Wenger to Lehmann. Undeterred, Arsenal continued to slice the Hammers open. A sweeping counter attack saw Cesc play the ball to van Persie, he elegantly touched the ball into the path of Alex Song, but his effort was deflected into the arms of Robert Green. The away side should have wrapped the game up by the half hour mark when Nasri`s through ball put van Persie through on goal, but his shot hit the base of the post.

But Arsenal moved into a two goal lead four minutes before half time, just as Lord Lowe decided the need to void bladder could no longer wait. Clichy clipped the ball down the line to an onside van Persie, he cut the ball back into the area and Walcott reacted much quicker than the cumbersome Tomkins to lash the ball into the roof of the net for his tenth game of the season. West Ham might have halved the deficit in first half injury time when Freddie Sears sent a cross into the area which Carlton Cole headed wide. But an unlikely goal scorer almost put the result in no doubt when Alex Song nudged a through ballot Djourou who was foiled by the face of Rob Green. Come half time and we were in complete control, perhaps regretting not extending our lead further. On this occasion, I did not expect West Ham to emerge a different team in the second half; the bells were ringing loud and clear for Grant`s departure and it was clear that the morale of the West Ham side was at its absolute base.

Ultimately, Arsenal rather toyed with the Irons in the second half, doing enough to keep them at arm`s length without over extending themselves. It was like watching a man place his palm onto the forehead of a midget and allowing him to swing away with a series of unlanded punches. The game was fighting for breath on an oscillator and Arsenal pulled the plug on 76 minutes. Once again, Szczesny was quick to get the ball out to Eboue as Arsenal broke, Fabregas played another sumptuous through ball to Walcott and masquerading footballer Wayne Bridge slid in idiotically on Walcott to leave the referee with no option but to point to the spot. After performances like yesterday, it`s not difficult to see why Bridge has such an aversion to actually playing football. Surely Real Madrid can sort him out with a loan deal so he can rest his feet up on the bench for another year? Van Persie stepped up and, as usual, despatched the penalty with aplomb to Green`s right. West Ham were longing for the final whistle and Wilshere nearly added a bell and a whistle to the final score after van Persie and Arshavin worked a short corner to the edge of the area, but Green was equal to it. As the board for injury time showed the number 3, the Arsenal fans taunted Grant with a chorus of "you`re getting sacked in three minutes." There was also a new chant aired for Chamakh to the tune of "Tom Hark" but the only words I could make out were "He`s not white, he`s not black.......and his name is Chamakh." Perhaps someone can fill me in with the rest of it? In the end, it was exactly the sort of game we needed after a brace of tough cup ties. West Ham rather rolled over and died and Arsenal were only too willing to apply the killer touches. The returns of Nasri and van Persie led to greater movement, but I do think the front three of Bendtner, Chamakh and Arshavin would not have had trouble scoring against a shambolic West Ham side either. Walcott is becoming such a dangerous player; the timing of his runs has improved tenfold this season and he`s beginning to see the fruits of it. Likewise, after some early criticism, I really like the look of Koscielny at centre half. He tends to keep things very simple, which you want from someone at the heart of the defence. A valuable three points, but we won`t get anything like this easy a time at Elland Road on Wednesday.LD.

53.SZCZESNY, 27.EBOUE, 20.DJOUROU, 6.KOSCIELNY, 22.CLICHY, 17.SONG, 19.WILSHERE, 4.FABREGAS(c ) (15.Denilson `79), 8.NASRI (28.Gibbs `88), 14.WALCOTT (23.Arshavin `88), 10.v.PERSIE. Unused: 11.Vela, 29.Chamakh, 49.Shea, 52.Bendtner.


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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday January 16 2011

Time: 7:10PM

Your Comments

Easy as it gets. Now for the tougher challenges ahead.
Sajit
It was to easy but you can only beat what is in front of you.
Armory
I forgot to point out that fur of our eighteen yesterday, came from our academy. Bendtner and Djourou have also been with us since 16.
Little Dutch
As of course have been Cesc and Theo!
Little Dutch
Theo's runs were always an outlet for the creative juices of our midfielders. Hope the lads can capitalize on this source of danger and work out varied scenarios with Theo, on the training ground as things will get harder towards the season's end. I also like the fact that we now vary our corner routine; and this is easily attributable to the presence of RvP and Nasri. Their ball keeping skills and confident dribbles make it easy to pass out of the corner flag and disrupt the long corner-kick marking routine of opposition defenses. Kos has continued with his calm and simple defending as he did against Ipswich, even though we lost. All said, while it remains tight at the top in the prem title race, with this side fit and on form, very few teams will avoid conceding to us. Now, to the small matter of a win at Elland road midweek.
Naijagunner
Wouldn't that include Szczesny, Theo, Jack, JD, Gibbs, Shea, Cesc and Song? Maybe, the message of your last post was lost in the spelling error, LD.
Naijagunner
Shea, Gibbs, Wilshere and Szczesny came through the ranks. Cesc, Bendtner, Theo and Djourou joined us at 16, Djourou at 17.
Little Dutch
Well then, that's a good story for the club. 16 years is academy age as well though, albeit, players like Cesc started playing 1st team soccer rather early at 16.
Naijagunner
Thoroughly enjoyable article as always. Can't say I disagree with anything there. Walcott is becoming increasingly efficient and we've certainly found our best possible front six, and, unfortunately in terms of fatigue, they're probably going to be required against Leeds and again in the CC. I've sung Koscielny's praises on the forum, too, I think he's looked excellent. So in your opinion, LD, who would your first choice partnership be? Djourou has of course been terrific of late and Squillaci must also be conisdered, who was looking like an absolute steal before his recent dip in form. It's quite unbelievable considering how much the pundits criticise that area of our squad, and we've now kept three consecutive clean sheets in the league. United have been the masters of defending this season but we've definitely improved and in that aspect, it's certainly more of a gap than a chasm between the teams. Not that our defence was tested an awful lot yesterday.
super_gooner
Not sure who I'd have as first choice CB pairing, all down to who would create the best partnership and TV5 hasn't had enough chancs to play with any of our other centre halves. I reckon the manager considers it to be Koscielny and Vermaelen, but Djourou is knocking very hard.
Little Dutch
Its a really horrible song. He's not White, and he's not black He comes from a place not far from Iraq He plays upfront, and he plays in attack He's our mate, marouane Chamakh Na Na Na Na. Basically the Thierry Henry song. So bad i cringe when i hear it.
paul_ownz
Also i reckon Vermaelen & Djourou would be my ideal cb partnership. As it is Vermaelen is having surgery and will be out for 6 weeks, which basically means the rest of the season in my eyes. Maybe it will force the managers hand and have to get someone in defo for now.
paul_ownz
It looks an easy game because we played so well. West Ham have had a decent run at home and performed pretty well themselves against B'ham in the cup game. They didn't have Parker which does make a difference to them but as a team they're still a better side than Leeds or Ipswich. The difference is in the quality of our performance not so much the quality of the opposition.
Amos.
Have to say I think it was a bit of both, we played very well, but West Ham were hardly pressing us in possession with even 5% of the vigour Ipswich and Leeds did.
Little Dutch
Do you know those were the words I thought I had heard to that Chamakh chant but I convinced myself that it couldn't possibly be that bad. A place near Iraq? He plays upfront AND in attack?? How did that ever get further than the *****head in the pub that first uttered it? Arsenal fans seem to have become allergic to originality in their chanting, Gilberto Silva had a fantastic chant to the tune of Copa Cobana a few years back and when a couple of us used to sing it, nobody joined in, despite it being the simplest song in the world to pick up. The Stones tune Paint It Black gives us so many opportunities for a Chamakh chant but nobody would ever join in with something that isn't to the tune of Tom Hark, Volare or "soooper, super x"
Little Dutch
I think the forward line against West Ham was so much more alert and effective that midfield were able to get the ball away quicker and didn't have to spend quite as much time retrieving the possession that the forwards lost against Leeds and Ipswich. That even allowed the full backs to get more into the game. Though the possession we had in each game wasn't that different it was able to be used much more creatively against West Ham because the forwards were more creative. On the other hand it was easier for Leeds and Ipswich to press us as we did much of the job for them ourselves.
Amos.
Ah sucks, missed the game, but did have a look at the highlights. Glad to see Van P scoring again. He sure needs his confidence after the lengthy layout. Well didnt expect the Irons to put up much of a fight, and they didn't let me down. Well in the past, we may have drawn this game. The story with Verm is rather sad. Guess the boss has to get someone now, even if its a loan. Hate to spoil this momentum with shaky defending. By the side, the premiership should be gearing up for another "invincibles team" (if we can call em that) in Man U. Its either they are unbeatable or no one knows, as yet, how to beat em. I must say, they are the team to beat.
gunnerwest
Our defence worries me. I think we're being lulled into a false sense of security by clean sheets. West Ham's attack was practically non-existent and Man City hardly stepped foot in our half. You only have to look back at Ipswich to see how vulnerable we are at the moment. You would never ever see one of the other top teams concede a goal like that. Certainly not United, who yet again defended brilliantly against Spurs yesterday. We're always moaning about it, but right now its going to make a difference to our season if Wenger does not address the problem. With TV out for the next couple of months Arsene has to bring reinforcements in. Enough talk, time to act.
Wyn Mills
The fluidity of the midfield 3 was a joy to watch and enabled the front 3 to get into the game a lot more than previous performances, obviously the personnel of Song (who had one of those good days) and Cesc and an on form Jack really helped, coupled with a forward 3 who know how to trap a ball and are creative in their own right. Fingers cross for Van Persie's fitness.
shewore
I agree with you Wyn. Seeing United yesterday, they were actually pretty ordinary going forward, but their defence was awesome and that's why they'll probably win the league. Vidic was awesome. With our propensity to conceding goals, we need to score 2 or 3 every game to feel safe. United on the other hand will be able to draw matches they should probably lose, and win matches 1-0 they should probably draw. Let's hope I'm wrong!
Gooner_Vin
The way we play is always going to make us more vulnerable to conceding goals than some other teams but having said that we coped with Ipswich pretty well for most of the game. I don't think that there is any false sense of security in the clean sheets we've had. By and large our defenders have been pretty solid this season and compares reasonably with the other teams. West Hams attack was as threatening as Ipswich's overall but we kept them out. As with the West Ham game the Ipswich attack would have counted for little if our forwards had done their job properly. More back up is needed with TV out effectively for a good part of the rest of the season but Song does provide some cover.
Amos.
If we had coped with Ipswich then we really wouldn't have come away from Portman Road with a defeat. In fact Ipswich had 2 or 3 opportunities to make the score more embarassing for us. And these are not the most potent attacks we are likely to face in the coming months. Increasingly I am watching teams punt balls high into our defence in the belief that they consider our back line suspect. I've seen too many instances of panic back there to buy into the illusion that all is really ok. I would not describe our defence as solid, and would challenge you to find many who do. I really wouldn't want to see Song dropped back into defence to cover for an injury to, say, Djourou. Why on earth would we have to take this risk anyway? It makes no sense for a club of our size.
Wyn Mills
"Solid" and "defence" re Arsenal in the same sentence? Really? Oh dear lord. And please don't take solace out of the fact that we dealt with a team who's nearly 2 leagues below us for most of the game, in fact we were lucky to keep it to 1. That wasn't the main problem at Ipswich anyway the main problem was attitude.
shewore
Remembering we've played all the top teams with one game more than ManU and more away games than them (and the other bigger teams) and we've conceded only 3 goals more then our defense isn't quite as porous as the myth might have you believe. As I said the way we play is always likely to make us more vulnerable than most. We aren't ever likely to employ the Citeh tactics against us whoever we meet so we won't set any defensive records but the 'problem' is a bit overstated at the moment.
Amos.
I think our defence has played well on the whole, I think our defending as a team has improved this season, but is still short. Ipswich's long balls worked in part because Eboue and Gibbs provided no cover for the centre halves. On Sunday, Hernandez chased a ball back in his own box and made a sliding tackle on Lennon in his own area late in the game. I couldn't see Arshavin or Nasri doing that.
Little Dutch
To be fair you probably wouldn't have seen Pires or Overmars do that either although if they ever did you'd be the one to recall it! We've come up short in specific games notably at home to West Brom and the Spuds (and away in a couple of CL games) but we have defended better this season and have looked pretty solid more often than not. We can defend well enough we just have to do it with greater consistency.
Amos.
Seems you had no competition at all which considering it was at Upton Park will have been a big bonus.
SFC Forever
Latest on arsenal.com is thet Szczesney will continue in goal for the games against Leeds, Wigan and Ipswich, since Fabianski has had a minor setback. I wonder if Fabianski's gonna get back at all if Szczesney continues in the way he's performed up until now. I have to say he seems a more assured presence than Fabianski.
Gooner_Vin
Szczesney hasn't had any really nervy moments yet, aside from his woeful kicking against Man U. It'll be interesting to see when the inevitable cock-up comes (even the greatest keepers make them once in a while), how he deals with it.
krismon1
Off topic, just wondering how Darren Bent's value goes from £10m to £18m (rising to £24m?) and it's not like he's been exactly prolific.
Naijagunner
Off topic, just wondering how Darren Bent's value goes from £10m to £18m (rising to £24m?) and it's not like he's been exactly prolific.
Naijagunner
Yeah, I can't believe that estimation of Bent too, and I can't believe Villa are actually paying it. Mind you, they've still got the money from Milner's sale burning a hole in their pocket I guess.
Gooner_Vin
Darren Bent goalscoring stats are up their with Drogba and Rooney for the past 3 seasons, you wouldn't get either of those 2 for less than 30m so I don't see why everyone is so shocked at his fee?
iceman10
No one would pay more than 20m for drogba except City. He is 33 in 2 months.
paul_ownz
I sinned twice over the weekend. The first was agreeing with Stan “The Mouth” Colleymore on Talk***** about why MON would not join West Ham and secondly by supporting the Spuds against United and enjoying the play of Modric. I felt dirty afterwards and cleansed myself by self-flagellating, but I was please to claw back two points and three goals on the Mancs. By the way, how many times has RvP hit the woodwork over the last few seasons? It seems a lot to me so I wonder if, subconsciously, he uses the frame of the goal as a marker when he shoots thinking that the ball will do more in flight and just sneak inside. Incredible.
Sir Henry
I had to view Theo's movement for his goal several times-reminded me of Romario. Wonderful.
jaelle
Just watched some interviews on Arsenal.com. Is it just me, or is RvP just brilliant at interviews. The more I hear him, the more I love it he's at Arsenal. You can tell how much he loves the Club. Although it will be great for everyone, for RvP, Cesc and Clichy, I'll be especially pleased if we win a major honour this season.
Gooner_Vin
I meant: although it will be great for everyone, I'll be especially pleased for RvP, Cesc and Clichy if we win a major honour this season.
Gooner_Vin
Looks like we're closing in on Pienaar. Who are you signing to strengthen your hand?
Tony Rocky Horror
***** off stratford interlosp*r
nikolaijns
TRH, the only thing you're closing in on is bankruptcy. Give it another season and Harry, the new England manager, will jump ship leaving you in the same position he left Southampton, Portsmouth and West Ham.
Wyn Mills
Have to say I can't believe Wenger is already coming out with the "there is no-one good enough" excuse concerning our need for a CB. I can only hope he's throwing up a smokescreen because I'd be surprised if there's not one defender of quality better than Squillaci available, even given his perchant for frenchmen. It makes you wonder what went wrong with Nordtveit.
Wyn Mills
A PLACE NEAR IRAQ? ... Fu*cking hell, a few gooners need to have a look at a map.
Chipo
p.s. sign Samba
Chipo
Whether West Ham's defence was just so bad or we made them look bad - especially that debutant who picked up a reportedly big pay cheque but probably made the club regret that signing looking at how he got murdered by Theo - I honestly don't know. So pleased to see our creativity and fluency back with RvP and Theo on fire.
GoonerLou
 

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