West Ham 0-2 Arsenal; the Good, Bad, and Ugly

The Good

I love these types of games; wide open, both teams attacking, pulsating play and me screaming “HOW THE F*CK DID THAT NOT GO IN??!??!?” every 12 minutes.

The first half was a keepers game, no doubt, with both keepers making some spectacular saves but Robert Green edged out Almunia in that first half having done more for his team to keep them in the game. This is not to say that Almunia had a bad first half, au contraire, that was easily the best performance I have ever seen from Almunia, simply a recognition that Green had more to do at the back than Manny and did it against much stiffer odds.

Theo was the victim of some of that, erm, Green-ery and had an ordinary keeper been in the sticks for West Ham we could have easily been talking about Theo for MotM. But we aren’t… Theo shots were saved by Green and he ended the match sacrificed along with Nasri so that Arsene could bring on Adebayor and Diaby: the men who broke open the game.

I was kind of surprised to see that neither man was included in the starting lineup but heading into the congested fixtures list Wenger felt they needed a rest. It was a good bit of managing and refreshing to see Arsenal with some super subs on the bench for once. How many times have we seen Chelsea get into one of these tense 0-0 affairs only to bring on some multi-million dollar sub and win the match?

Adebayor repaid his manager and made up for his foolish remarks of the other day by simply doing all the things that have made him indispensable for this team. No other player in this club terrifies defenses like Adebayor; he can dribble around most defenders, he can run under a lofted ball, he’s a decent header on set plays, he can take the ball high or low, and he’s Arsenal’s only true target man. He showed all of that off yesterday and thus is MotM for this blog.

Oh yeah, and for the first time in his career, he had 0 (zero, nil, zip, nada, none) offsides.

Alex Song on the other hand, looked like a completely changed player from the game on Tuesday. Some of that can be attributed to the fact that he played next to Cesc instead of in the middle of the defense; where one slip is devastating compared to the other. But more than just his assuredness, he also seemed to relish the task of running his lungs out and policing the midfield compared to the sprint and panic that characterizes the Arsenal defense right now. I know it’s just this one game but he did a great job out there and I’d like to see him get a few more chances.

The Bad

I can’t really complain about the match, our defense looked more assured than they have recently, the team responded well to the physicality of West Ham, they kept possession and harassed the opposition, Almunia had a great game, they put two past them, and kept a clean sheet — what’s to complain about?

I guess I kind of got tired of seeing the West Ham complain about hand(s) ball(s). The only one handling his balls was Robert Green in the 24th minute. And lesee… Was it just me or did William Gallas look super extra sweaty? Like he was playing while nursing a hangover? Have a good fried breakfast, a zip fizz, plenty of coffee and some water next time Bill!

The Ugly

I’m not a fan of that shade of green that Almunia was wearing, that was ugly.

The other thing that was ugly was the fact that Robert Green was clearly outside the box, and clearly intentionally handled the ball outside the box and clearly should have been sent off and the officials got it dead wrong. Graham “three yellow cards” Poll thinks it’s a case where instant replay would have made a difference but I’m not sure: first, someone on the pitch would have to have seen it and I’m not convinced that even Bendtner truly saw it as there was almost no complaint after the incident. Second, I’m not sure this is one of the things that we want managers challenging.

My friend Alex’s idea is that you try to rule out challenges that occur during the run of play and keep the disruptions to a minimum. So, you would be able to challenge a disallowed goal, yellow cards, red cards, and penalties. I like this idea a lot because it minimizes disruptions and gets big calls right (I’d like to throw in that if a penalty is falsely awarded AND the player is judged to have pulled a Drogba in order to win the penalty the referee could give a retroactive red card to the cheater — by that’s just the axe that I grind).

Where were we? Uhhh, yes, would instant replay have fixed the Green call? I don’t know, what do you all think?

Ok, that’s it for today, Harry’s Hot Spuds are up on Wednesday and given that the squad is riding high now that a “good Englishman” is in charge I fear that we could be in for a raucous North London derby. 7-6 to the Arsenal, that’s today’s prediction! More on that later this week.


10 Responses to “West Ham 0-2 Arsenal; the Good, Bad, and Ugly”

  1. October 27, 2008 at 6:33 am

    I agree wholeheartedly that Adebayor’s vital for the team. It’s amazing the different we looked after he and Diaby were brought on. There are only two things I’m curious about:
    1. Why’s Bendnter playing as a de facto right winger? He played a nice game last night, but he looks a bit out of place on the flanks – too big and clunky in this aesthetes’ eyes.
    2. Why aren’t we resting Theo anymore? I thought the poor kid was suffering from burn-out. Not that I’m complaining, but I’d like to see Vela get a shot on the wing as well – haven’t seen much of that guy.

  2. October 27, 2008 at 7:03 am

    Yeah, I’m not sure why Vela isn’t playing more.

    As for the “striker in the wings” formation, Arsene always does that. Last year it was van Persie, before that hmmm, who did it before that? I can’t remember, but I know that Wenger almost always has his strikers play deep and “wing-like.” Henry did it, I’m fairly certain.

    It’s part of what makes it so difficult to play Arsenal: our full backs are wingers, our strikers are midfielders, our midfielders are defenders, etc. etc.

    I will say that both RvP and Bendy were playing mighty deep yesterday, I saw RvP hanging out around the center circle quite a bit. I’m not sure if that was the game plan or if Wet Sham was able to compact the game so well that we really had no choice.

    I dunno!

  3. October 27, 2008 at 7:09 am

    alex song wos nowhere-we were gpint to be 1-0 if it wosnt a great save from almunia and that wos alex’s foult.alex song in every boll he takes wos not good in pasing boll keeping boll and defending way.alex song is not good for us.it wos westhum so we didnt punished from his mistace.

  4. October 27, 2008 at 7:22 am

    Sorry Shkumbin, I completely disagree. Alex song had a great game from box to box as evidenced by the fact that he saved Arsenal’s blushes when Cole had rampaged through the Arsenal defense and he sprinted back to nip the ball off him and at the other end had a good shot on goal which required a decent save from Green.

    Sure he made mistakes but everyone made mistakes — even Cesc. Relax, mate, it’s ok to like Alex Song.

  5. 5 Matt
    October 27, 2008 at 8:00 am

    Match of the year so far…

  6. 6 cescsational
    October 27, 2008 at 8:56 am

    song played well MOTM for me would be ADE changed the dimension of the game gave us more uptop and linked up well with bentner.. i think against spuds u mite see bentnet and ade parntership van p coming of the bench round 65 mark to nick one but i think we should be clean and dry by then!!!

  7. 7 njoro
    October 27, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    i have an eerie feeling that we are conceeding far too many goals. compared to the defences of our title rivals our is a comedy. with the benefit of hind sight, a mean defence is as important, if not more important, than a good strikeforce. our defensive failings against westham yesterday were there for all and sundry to see, and tho we dint concede, i feel its just a matter of time before we are done in. how comes our only quality defedner djorou wasnt playing? all the centrebacks sve him are shit and you cant win anything with that comical bunch. i know i sound ridiculous but we all have to put this in perspective. the only way to save ourselves is to buy in january, not a defensive midfielder, but a central defender himself.

  8. October 27, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    Actually, njoro, Arsenal have allowed exactly the same number of goals (6) in the league as league leaders Liverpool AND they have scored more. Whilst I am concerned with the defense it’s not on total number of goals but rather when and how.

    As for the title rivals, Chelsea has let in 4 goals and Hull has let in 11. In that perspective, I’d hardly call our defending “comical.”

    But thanks for reading and commenting! New readers are always welcome!

  9. 9 CaribKid
    October 27, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    Have to agree totally that Song put in a splendid performance yesterday and along with Walcott, Ade and Almunia, had to be the cream of the crop for Arsenal in what was an exciting game. Kudos to Zola for at least trying to play good football.

    Once again, RVP was wasteful or as Timothy would say, “Profligate”, and he just has not recovered his clinical finishing form since his injury last season. Nothing seems to be going in for him and we can only hope and pray he get’s the Witch Doctor to remove his curse. Gallas and Silvestre played well together as a partnership with Silvestre going for the high balls and Willy covering gracefully on the turf when his diminished lung capacity allowed him to do so.

    Bendtner’s pass to Ade was sublime, and so was Ade’s cool finishing after he rounded the GK. Individually it might not have been spectacular, but when you put the sequences together it was utterly fantastic. Interestingly, Bendtner looked better on the wing and contributed a lot more when he was out wide.

  10. 10 barnaby
    October 27, 2008 at 4:16 pm

    After a turbulent summer, the whole squad is settling in for the campaign. In spite of lingering deficiencies in midfield and at the back that will likely cost us trophies, I think we are embarking on a real purple patch and predict a string of impressive wins. It’s not the absence of denilson, I just think the team has grown more comfortable with itself and the players are trusting each other more. I think Song does make a lot of sense but he’s still learning.

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