Arsenal 1 – 0 West Ham: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis

Determined and disciplined West Ham. Inspired Robert Green. Atrocious refereeing. Lacklustre Arsenal. 0-0, game heading towards a lame draw.

Arsenal hit the turbo boost in the final stretch. 1-0, 3 points on the table. Good enough.

I know many fans expected a big win in this game. A run of good results can have that effect as it raises expectations. I was not that gung ho because West Ham have a habit of making things difficult for the opposition when they look down and out.

I’m really happy with this result because it showed we can raise our game by a couple of notches when required. The strength we had on the bench also made a big difference at it gave us better variety just when the visitors were tiring. It’s also good to see that the mentality we had last year when we won a number of games late on is still there.

As I said about some of the earlier games as well, this wasn’t a perfect game. We were a bit slow off the blocks, the movement up front wasn’t at the level we’ve come to expect, and consequently the final ball was difficult to find. For their part, the Hammers were extremely disciplined and worked hard in the defensive third, credit to them for making a game out of this one.

In total, Arsenal had 23 shots on goal with 10 on target. Two rattled the woodwork, Green made 4-5 excellent saves, and the rest were snapshots or off target. I thought in this game we lacked a little bit of composure and took too many shots, especially in the first hour.

Our best chance of the first half came in the 24th minute when Song found the run of Sagna with a perfectly weighted ball just inside the right side of the West Ham box. The full-back squared it towards Cesc who was unmarked and El Capitan bent it towards the far corner. Green saved it with a full length dive; I was a bit disappointed that Chamakh wasn’t anticipating a rebound.

Apart from some half chances and plenty of possession, Arsenal created two good chances in the first half. First Song forced a good save as he burst into the box after a one-two with Cesc. Then Squillaci came close with a header from a corner.

There was no doubt Wenger was going to motivate and send the team out for a better second half. Arsenal played the second half at a faster tempo. Nasri rattled the crossbar with a phenomenal, Alex like, free-kick. I thought this matter of a few inches is just where luck plays a big part. Alex was able to put it in against us but Nasri was unlucky as his strike just skimmed the bar. Nonetheless, it was a very pleasant surprise and it was great to see the Frenchman had the confidence to have a go. The power he generated with just a couple of steps was astounding.

Arsene made The change on 66 minutes as Theo came on for Denilson. Many would say this should have been our starting line-up but let’s not focus on that right now.

Soon after, Walcott was in behind as Fabregas found him with a perfect ball. Once again the woodwork came to Green’s rescue.

There were plenty of other chances in the second half but Green was keeping everything out. Arsene made the second change with just 10 minutes to go when Bendtner was introduced for Arshavin.

The goal when it came was a thing of real beauty. Arsenal were passing it around, trying to force an opening. Song spread the ball from the centre to the left with an outside the boot pass. Clichy did well to control the ball and beat the defender with a neat dummy. The left-back put in a measured ball with his right foot and Song arrived just on cue to head it home.

Heart-break for the Irons but a deserved goal for Arsenal.

After that it was just a matter of seeing out the remaining minutes and I thought we did a decent job of defending. In fact, I don’t remember any serious chances created by the visitors who were happy to rely solely on set-pieces during the entire game.

Individual Performances

Fabianski: Dominated his area well. Communicated with the defenders – I remember on one occasion he dragged Cesc to a spot while defending a corner and Fabregas was the one who headed it clear. Punched well and swept behind the defenders. Excellent distribution.

Sagna: Solid defending. Good work rate down the right channel. Some high quality crosses (but we rarely had enough players in the box). One excellent pass to set up Cesc.

Squillaci: Read the game well, had a good understanding with Koscielny. Kept it simple and effective. Almost scored from a corner.

Koscielny: Similar to Squillaci. Did well on set-pieces. Once again excellent in tackling.

Clichy: mirrored Sagna in many ways. Excellent work for the goal. Looked like the Clichy of old.

Song: My MotM. Was involved with almost everything offensively and defensively. Classic box-to-box display. Excellent timing of the run and good finish. His passing in the final third is also getting better.

Denilson: Did the simple things effectively. Was weak when put under pressure. Has to do more, at least defensively and in terms of holding his own under pressure.

Cesc: Off-colour by his standards but a decent game nonetheless. Had a couple of good attempts on goal. Created the chance for Walcott. Dropped deep often to collect the ball and free up Song. Was fouled far too often.

Nasri: Took him a while to get in the game but was impressive every time he drifted in. Linked up well with the others. Surprisingly, he took most of the free-kicks and corners and it was good to see he did well on most. Amazing strike that rattled the bar.

Chamakh: Once again his work rate was top class but I’d like to see him attack the ball a bit more once in the box. He should have attacked the back post when Arshavin created a cross out of nothing, should also have followed up on the Cesc strike. I’m sure he’ll learn as he plays more.

Arshavin: Much better work rate than before. Probably our most threatening player in the first half. His shooting has been a bit off this season and let him down on a couple of occasions.

Subs: Theo looked dangerous whenever he got on the ball. Excellent run and strike but was unlucky. Bendtner made his presence felt in the box. Eboue didn’t have much to do.

54 Responses to Arsenal 1 – 0 West Ham: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis

  1. LondonGunner says:

    Once again a great analysis Desi. Three points against a stiff Hammers, I feel good about our current team, the icing on the cake is coming our way great club and trophies aren’t far away.

    • desigunner says:

      I’m trying to stay clear of the trophies talk, at least for a while. Let’s go forward step by step and see how it goes. For now, I’ll be happy with a good run in November.

      • AnonymousGun says:

        february would be a more appropriate time to talk about trophy if we still within touch.. but for now.. 2 game at a time, no more.

        well, 2 games as we need to see who to put in the team based on our next opponent afterward 😀

  2. Filip says:

    Bendtner deserves more than 10 minutes.He is amazing.Arshavin is just like Ribery- always looks threatening but no end product in general. I know about his stats but he still wastes a lot more.

    • desigunner says:

      That’s an amazing statement. On one side you say no end product, and then you want to ignore the only factual evidence we have which proves you wrong.

      Could it be that the problem is with your expectations and that you’re not really noticing the positives?

  3. santori says:

    Was extremely pleased with Fabianski and Koscielny today.

    As you said, Fabianski hauled Fab into place for the corner and he was spot on. The Pole was also aggressive in coming out to punch or collect crosses.

    Koscielny’s tackling is superb. Absolutely loved how he remained calm when Piqiounne was coming down the line, waited to see what he’d do then simply blocked him off.

    Yes we made hard weather and yes this performance has to be measured against a largely toothless West Ham but I thought our defending was good today and we thoroughly deserve the clean sheet (again).

    • desigunner says:

      I feel we should not forget West Ham looked toothless because of the way we defended as a team and the defenders doing an excellent job whenever they got forward.

      Obviously if we went all out in attack from the start it would have given them some openings. All in all it looked like a decent balanced performance.

  4. arsenalist says:

    3 points…..very city droped 3 points…all the playes did well…still dont understand why arshavin play…he should be benched 2 or 3 games….clichy found space without arshavin and gave ud the goal

  5. santori says:

    We threatened well enough 23(10) shots but I can’t help but feel that Walcott (Particularly with Ilunga extremely porous) should have been introduced earlier with Nasri switched into the middle.

    I’m still of the opinion that we could do with one more speed demon either directly up top or on the left as an alternate to Andrei.

    • MSL says:

      I want to see Vela develop in the LF position. He has skills to cut in and finish and also has good ball skills to cross a few in or learn how to cross.

    • desigunner says:

      Ideally yes but I prefer not to get into that when we can’t do much about it. Wellington will come in January, we’ll have to see how he and Vela do till the end of the season.

  6. Arun says:

    I felt both Walcott and Bendtner should have started. The pair look more dangerous than Arshavin-Chamakh pairing.

    When the clock ticked past 85 minutes, I felt there are only two players who can score a goal after that.. One was Bendtner and the other was Song.. There he delivered.. Song with that diving header.. (If u look closely, the other player who was close to connecting to that cross was Bendtner.. See..)
    The reasons could be it was Bendtner who rescued us with those last minute goal during last season and Song being the goal scorer during the crucial times this season.. His goals are the ones that kill off the games..

    • arsenalist says:

      chamakh was good….arshavin very bad…wallcot struggle with such games…he is very good in contre attack

      • I accept Arun’s point. Chamakh was/is good in some areas. But Bendtner has that instinct to be in a place from where he can score also with decent Arsenal qualities except his first touch.

      • aravindvr says:

        I still remember few guys complaining Song was the worst Arsenal player in attaking positions.
        This match and few before clearly shows otherwise.
        The thru pass from Cesc was shot first time on goal by Song which Chamakh or anyother player in our current lineup except may be Cesc refuse to do.
        Finally a diving header which any striker wud be proud of.
        Although I am not saying hes the best Gunner in attaking pos, hes not tht bad as many guess.
        Songs bodyweight is a little high but has quick feet and positioning which could overcome his weaknesses.
        His passsing awareness and thru balls are much better than many Premiership attaking midfielders.

        All ‘Song not doing his job’ bashers should realise Wengers decision to play Song in CM role is very evident as of now.
        So all Gooners out there pls don’t complain abt Song going forward.Its the our strategy to play Song and another player(Wishere/Denilson/Diaby) in CM role and lets c how it turns out in the long run.

      • aravindvr says:

        I disagree that Bendtner has a bad first touch.
        Playing as lone target man role hes showed tremendous effort many a times to bring midfielders into the game.
        Check out our match vs Barca at NouCamp last season and how many long balls and GoalKicks he brings to ground with ease and pass it on to midfielders.
        Even while last sesaon starting, while playing at the flanks he showed great Arsenal qualities, passing,movement and first touches too..
        Haing said tht he still can improve a lot.
        His goal to game ratio in past two seasons is also not tht bad.

    • MSL says:

      Walcott is a good as a sub too. When the opponents are worn down, he can have a much better impact. Arshavin can have a good quarter and change the game. Clichy’s work rate affords this for us. I can still have him on the pitch.

    • desigunner says:

      It’s always a risk when players are coming back from an injury. Also with West Ham sitting deep we never know how threatening Theo would have been.

      Bendtner might have added some skill in attacking but we might have missed out on Chamakh’s work rate and hold up/link play.

      Point is such things can be argued either way. Not saying one argument is better than the other but as long as we’re getting the result I don’t mind.

  7. arsenalist says:

    the first half the midlefield struggled…denilson was awful….arshavin…ohh arashavin….the players fights hard for every ball…and the prince arshavin takes care to loose every ball…i think we should be happy…with the referee and a team who plays 10 players in the back

  8. Bala says:

    Great perfomance from Cesc(Who was playing with a injury),Kosh,Song and Nasri)Why don’t you put ratings alongside players analysis?

    • desigunner says:

      I understand instinctively it’s nice fun to put a number in front of the names and I’m not saying it’s wrong but I don’t get the point.

      I mean if I gave Song 8, 8.5, 9 or 9.5 for this game, would it have made any difference? If I think about it I can’t even pick a number out of those four. Just an example.

      • AnonymousGun says:

        I agree.. I prefer to rate the team as a whole.. We win and lose as a team.. well, there are times when individuals wins us games, but overall, teamwork and teamplay is a much better rating to give after games.

  9. chengiskhan says:

    The defense played very well today. I am extremely impressed with Koscielny’s poise, strength, quickness, reading of the game, and ability on the ball. A little more muscle and seasoning and he will be among the world’s absolute best.

    Song was commanding in midfield, although he still has this annoying tendency to make a few blunt (ie, foolish) tackles in every game. However, he is really developing into a complete player. I really love the way both he and Cesc have this ability to make very small, subtle moves to create lots of space out of nothing.

    One thing I think we lack is a true 1-v-1 player a la Messi who can open up defenses. Our play, while very eye pleasing indeed, can be somewhat predictable, especially against teams who sit back and defend. Arshavin can occasionally create something out of nothing, but he usually does not win out when trying to run at defenders. Nasri can do it occasionally, but he tends to move side to side attempting to outfox the defender. My hope is that Walcott will someday be able to harness that world-class speed and develop enough technical ability to blow by defenders in crowded attacking areas.

    • desigunner says:

      Poise – nice word to describe Koscielny’s style.

      “Create lots of space out of nothing” – I think that’s very important to our style. Most teams drop deep just to cut this out as they can defend in numbers.

      I share your hope regarding Walcott. And hopefully Wellington will also bring something different.

  10. Dhruv says:

    I would like to go back to the first half where Fabianski who is just about the least experienced player on the pitch, dragged our captain by the back of his shirt into position and the position was spot on as Cesc cleared the corner. Suffice to say that his confidence is coming back. Great to see him perform this way and long may it continue.

  11. arsenalist says:

    comic goal from nani…i dont like this cheater….and they say about our players divers.._))))spuds without soul…city lost 3 points///i think its a good deal today for us

  12. Arsenal says:

    Walcott is for sure still developing (He will learnt from matches experience, manager & older head advices)…..This match show we miss RVP for his excellence close one-touch,close touch defenc spliiting pass from half way high line or last third excellent through ball placement for runner coming deep into scoring position (Bendnter,Vela and Walcott need to watch closely and develop this skills from RVP)

  13. Metalhead says:

    The reason Cesc didn’t take the free kicks is because he has tweaked that hammy again. Arsene apparently wanted to get him off at half time. He is an injury doubt for the midweek game.

    • desigunner says:

      Based on today’s evidence I’d prefer if Nasri does the honours for a few games. Just want to see if he is consistent and whether he can improve.

  14. MSL says:

    I was no way expecting a cakewalk because Whammers have always made it difficult for us. History like that plays on the teams mental strength, a lot.

    Song’s presence in the final third seems to be paying off but he misplaces a few passes which kill an attacking move. He can work on it. Denilson was decent in the second half. I like Chamakh but in and around the box I would like to see some of striker instincts more. Adds a good dimension to our game if he can do that.

    Not to jinx it but our defense seems to be getting there with every game. I can only imagine it will get better once TV5 comes back.

    This is the kind of game that would have cost us in the past. Glad to see we came through.

  15. drvics (mumbai gooner) says:

    Really enjoyed todays game. You are bound to get a few games like this, where a team in the bottom 3 plays out of their skins and the luck goes with them. Yes, we didnt play to Arsenal level but we played a decent game and if it would have finished nil nil at the end, I would have put it down to them defending well, as against us not playing well enough. That to me is why the EPL is so exciting.

    Though some of our players looked a bit rusty, the desire to win was evident from the no holds barred tacking going on the midfield. There were a few occasions where I thought one of our player shouldnt have gone for the 50-50 tackles, cause I would rather see a ball lost in the midfield, with cover available, than another injury.

    Again, I completely dont get the Arshavin bashing. He was our best player in the first half. I know he isnt in the best of forms, but his contribution in spite of that was immense. No wonder he is the only one in our team wj=ho has started every EPL match this season.

    The reason to sent Cesc in at 70 mins in CC game midweek is apparent now, I guess. He seems to be out of touch (considering his high standards). He missed several passes and had several poor first touches. That is obviously down to the lack of match practice with us since the summer.

    Chamakh looked a little burnt out. He worked his ass off nonetheless, but the keen striker instincts were not tuned on completely today. Hopefully with B52 in good shape and form, he will get some much needed rest.

    Kos was immense today. West ham were rarely a treat today bar a few minutes in the first half. Squillaci seems like the perfect foil for him, and I wont be surprised if Le boss rotates Kos and TV5 with Squillaci as a constant just to keep the defensive balance.
    Both fullbacks were great. And I was so proud of Clichy for picking the right option for the assist. We have seen him go for a shot on goal on several occasions from similar positions rather than dink it in with the right foot.

    All in all, 3 pts well deserved and well earned.

    P.s. Just watched the 2nd goal of Man U Vs Spurs. I know its Spurs, but what the hell was Klattenberg doing?

    • desigunner says:

      Chamakh certainly needs a little break and some time to work on the poaching instincts.

      Ideally I would like Clichy to have the ability to score from that position but if he can’t do that well enough, I’ll take a decent cross just like the one he delivered.

      That goal was a comedy of errors. Gomes was just as naive as Fabianski was at Porto.

  16. charybdis1966 says:

    Reasoned and thoughtful analysis there Des, keep up the good work.

  17. Tim says:

    Agree Song was excellent today. I’m OK with him trying to get forward more, as long as the rest of the team is disciplined enough to cover the space. Opposing teams tend to be looking for Cesc or Jack to be surging into the box, and Alex has a nice habit of popping up at the right time completely free. That extra dimension to his game makes him – and us as a team – less predictable. that can only be a good thing.

  18. JP says:

    Good performance from the team. It’s really nice almost having he whole team to pick from or have choices coming off the bench. Just in time for a hard November and December. I always say if we have a full team to pick from we will be very competitive. Great stuff guys, keep it going.

  19. Furovich says:

    Unfortunately Arshavin is still struggling to find the form that he had in his first season at Arsenal. I know people will quote his statistics on goals and assists but when he’s giving the ball away literally 50% of the time he’s certainly struggling. It’s even more costly considering he doesn’t have much of a defensive workrate. Will be interesting to see Wenger’s selections if Walcott and Nasri stay fit.

  20. Furovich says:

    “Song had three good chances, he has added that to his game. He has got the taste to go forward, sometimes a little too much for a holding midfielder.”

    Enlightening comments from Wenger considering alot of us were wondering about the tactics to get Song forward. Anyone else varify this? I got it from The Independent online.

  21. a Skeptic says:

    Arsenal is a excruciatingly a physically weak team, technically superior to most, but unable to impose itself, this is undeniable fact.
    Denilson is a good player, tidy, technical, but not for the premiership, he is pushed off the ball like a fly and never recovers. Lionheart Wiltshire seem more and more indispensible,
    Song reincarnated is not just a box to box pretender he takes over also creative plays and space of the other midfielders. I am not sue about this development.
    Arshavin is not the player he was, is he unfit?, is it his contract? , he certainly seems so;and he is huffing heavily, his mind and vision still world class but his speed accuracy and sharpshooting zip are tad slower.

    Fabregas is not in top form, he misses a lot of passes, his special scoring charm gone for now, his hamstring still a bother? he puts himself in physical jeopardy as compensation. dangerous.
    Chamakh work rate may impress some but let’s face it, the guy shoots on goal ONLY as last resort, does he have more than one shot average a game I would be surprised ; he is a ‘goal facilitator’ not a scorer. Nick is the opposite, a goal hungry honest guy, but without vPersie Arsenal will always loose to a big team, no question about it. vPersie is not just a super striker he is a a 9 who is a 10 too.

    it is ironically the defense , not yet full strength that seems stable now , while the front lines need sorting out

  22. Raghugovind says:

    I feel we should pair Squilaci with Vermalen when the later is fit to play . What do you feel ?

    • desigunner says:

      I don’t want to think about Vermaelen right now. It just gets irritating when his injury lay-off keeps getting extended.

  23. Ajinkya says:

    We should try and bring Arshavin on as a substitute and let him play in the center.

  24. Ajinkya says:

    Very good game. Our players have had a lot of games and this one was to be difficult. Song brilliant again, not only because of the goal, however. Denilson a bit shaky. Squillaci is a cool man. Koscielny is a bit more aggressive.
    Good game for Sagna and Clichy.
    Bit concerned about Arshavin, we should do whatever it takes and bring him back to his full potential.
    Nasri, good free-kick, without run-up.
    We will get only better without doubt.

  25. Furovich says:

    Actually it’s an interesting comment because I’m pretty sure Wenger said the other day in an interview “We don’t have a holding midfielder” or words to that effect. Realistically, Arsenal are indeed not playing with a holding midfielder. All three are central players are interchanging. It’s somewhat revolutionary from Wenger considering it is very much the fashion to play with 1, 2 or in Man City’s case, 3 holding midfielders. Even Barca imploy Busquets in a pretty rigid holding role. No doubt it seems to be catching teams a little by surprise when Song comes bustling forward.

    Even though I don’t think Song has the qualities of Nasri, Fabregas, Denilson, Wilshere etc he certainly has others that make him a handfull getting forward. Interesting decision making from Wenger. It will be pretty interesting to see how this new system as well as Song develop.

  26. […] Arsenal 1 – 0 West Ham: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis Determined and disciplined West Ham. Inspired Robert Green. Atrocious refereeing. Lacklustre Arsenal. 0-0, game heading […] […]

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