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Arsenal Versus West Ham: Arsène’s Beautiful Ballet

ballet-studio-peter-miller-

I began my first draft of this little missive by suggesting that today’s game was a case of back down to earth with a bump. I scratched it out and started again for two reasons. Primarily because we don’t deal in tedious clichés here at the home of positivity but also because, as exciting as Champions League and FA Cup fixtures are, a visit from West Ham United is absolutely as important. We are right into the gristle of our league season, teeth sunk deep into the thigh of the Premier League beast and it is the teams which put together a good run from March onwards who are often sitting most prettily come May.

Arsenal cannot take anything lightly from now on. We have Man City firmly in our sights and we won’t bring down such a bloated, huge, cash rich brute without we maintain a constant, slavering, blood thirsty snarling at their heels. They need to feel the hot breath on their necks every step of the way. We want them looking over their shoulders and the chasing pack to falter and lose heart behind us. How to achieve this? By treating the likes of West Ham with precisely the same sense of all embracing commitment and concentration as that with which we approached the Man United cup tie on Monday night.

I know we weren’t perfect at Old Trafford. United actually had far more of the game and many more chances than most of us liked to pretend when revelling in the result on Tuesday. That is often the way. Just as we were nowhere near as bad as everyone said after the Monaco game, people do love to allow results to cloud their judgement of what actually happened over the ninety minutes. One thing we can all agree about our performance in Manchester is that it was resolute. There was an unwillingness to get beaten and a determination to keep sniffing for the winner which was so beautifully encapsulated in Danny Wellbeck’s goal. Those same qualities of determination, resolution and a refusal to lie down often count every bit as much as superior ball skills as we lace our flats for the final pas de bourrée.

The other significant factor which we’ve witnessed recently is the role of the so called lesser players in lifting the team when stellar performers are perhaps slightly off their game. It is of course nothing more than an essential aspect of any team sport that people step up when others experience a small dip in form. It is fantastical to expect an entire squad of players to simultaneously hit the high notes. Some may have a stand out season, others may enjoy a number of purple patches, many stay at a decent level throughout. Form comes and goes and individuals fight their own personal battles to get back on song while still contributing to the overall choreography of Arsène’s beautiful ballet.

I’m thinking particularly of the way Nacho Monreal and Francis Coquelin gave themselves up to the needs of the team and the desires of the supporters with the commitment and passion of drunken bridesmaids at the end of a reception, whereas Alexis batted his eyelashes and flirted but never really took things in hand as we know he can. He’ll come good again I have no doubt, but that isn’t my point. I’m more interested in the way the side plugs its own gaps and the way we have been getting results when not at our sensual and fluid best. All of these qualities go together to make up a successful team and if we can keep doing what we’ve been doing the winning confidence will lay the foundations for a return to the free flowing instinctive football of which we know this squad to be capable.

So what of our opponents today? The last time we met them they were above us as we strove to achieve fifth place, which we duly did by taking three points home from Upton Park and playing leap frog with Fat Sam and his merry men. After a good start to the season they were beginning to slide while we were in the process of hauling ourselves in the opposite direction towards our by now customary seat at the top table. The recent form statistics do not make happy reading for our friends from the East End. We are still second, just behind Liverpool while our visitors today languish in eighteenth having failed to win in their last six. A small cautionary note does sound on closer examination of their last six away games. They have drawn four, results which include taking a point home from Swansea, Southampton and Spurs respectively and so the warning signs are there.

Can I tell you anything about how the lugubrious old saggy faced gum chewer will set up his players? Can you tell me the numbers for tonight’s lottery? I can guess that he might suggest they keep a lot of players behind the ball, frustrate us and look to hit us on the break. It wouldn’t be the strangest thing we’ve ever seen but I have noticed our opponents often opting to harass Per and Kos high up the pitch to force us to hoof it long thereby thwarting our taste in patient build up. Tactical geniuses like Brendan Rodgers have been known to send out their teams with the express instruction to go four up within twenty minutes and so we can’t discount that possibility. I recall Hull trying something like it in the cup final last year but they fell short by two goals and so their whole plan went to shit rags.

Personally I don’t give a hoot how the other bloke sets out his stall. It is the way we play that ought to determine the outcome. If they defend in depth we will slowly pull and prod at them until we get a couple of threads started and eventually we’ll get them to unravel. If they come at us we will hit them with rapier like, counter attacking football. If we have one of our perfect games (and we are due one) then they won’t see the ball at all, so it won’t matter if they come out juggling fire and singing the Bolivian national anthem. Like predicting the team line ups I know no more than the rest of you so I’ll leave that to the discussion which I trust will follow my half baked ramblings. Speaking of half baked, my vegan croissant should be about ready by now so I’ll bid you adieu and if you’re not at the match I hope you manage to come across a decent quality stream. If you do, let me know where to find it. Thanks.

About steww

Arsenal, books, photography, bass guitar, dog walking, mountain biking, being on the radio, writing, talking too much, failing, making mistakes, buggering on regardless.

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131 comments on “Arsenal Versus West Ham: Arsène’s Beautiful Ballet

  1. Aye, Aye Steww @ 7:22pm. As George said on twitter the shit is now among the pigeons. City know the Arsenal have a stretch run like Steve Ovett (old-timers will remember him; I have never seen a more powerful kick in the last 400m) and they will be shitting their pants. I feel it in my bones that Southampton can turn over Chelsea. Not a racing certainty but if Burnley can do City, why not the Chavs.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Oli G was definitely MoTM for me and not just for that fantastic goal, but his all round performance. Yet still on the way home I hear moaning about him. What more does he need to do to finally silence the haters?

    Like

  3. Went the day well?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. talking about scapegoating a player, here are some comments from gooners today about Arteta signing a new contract – 4 different Arsenal supporters(ha ha ha ) comments

    1. Really??!! There are no defensive midfield talent out there that Arsenal can afford?! This is anti thesis to strengthening the team.

    2. We’re never going to progress and challenge for the PL and CL with players like Arteta in the team

    3. Keeping Arteta around is like keeping a bag of sh*t in your kitchen

    4. I’ve got a horrible feeling it was already happened and just not been announced

    Liked by 1 person

  5. When will the muppets admit that Oliver Giroud is world class?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. dc they never will no matter how well he does, they will stick to their mantra that he only does well cos we create so many chances for any striker and that if we had a top class striker they would score two or three times as many goals as Giroud

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  7. On a list of best CBs in Europe, Koscielny slides in the top five easily. He’s the epitome of being as cool as a cucumber. The guy just doesn’t get frazzled. Is it me or does he remind one of Franco Baresi? To me, he runs like him and he has the same type of movement when he anticipates the opponent. And he reads danger in a similar way as well.

    The Welsh Zidane just keeps on getting better and better and better with every game. That little thigh-lob that almost beat Adrian, that’s the kind of stuff Zizou used to do. Aaron was just on another level today. He and Giroud were on the same frequency and it was insane watching them interchange passes.

    Giroud is the best striker of the ball on the team. You pass the ball out wide to him and he whips in the most incredible crosses. And he’s not too shabby shooting at goal either. The way he plays in close quarters is also impressive. Those one twos with Ramsey and the little lay off for Theo were magnificent. I don’t think there’s another big man who plays in tight spaces like he does.

    I thought Theo looked beefy in a good kind of way. It looks as if he’s been working on receiving contact and his extra bulk is helping him on that front. I am glad that he can come in to a game of this importance and give a solid seventy minutes. How I want him to be fit and back to being the old Theo.

    Thank god Olive and Ramsey were in sync because Ozil and Sanchez definitely were not. Ozil wasted a few counters either with passes which were intercepted or just getting himself in bad positions. Sanchez was a bit ball hoggy today and he let the parked bus get to him a bit.

    I’m glad Santi was rested. When he came on the game just brightened up and everything looked easier. What a class player. I love him to bits.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. as Wenger said today the reason why we are not in the title race was our poor start to the season when we only won one of our first five (and had five draws in first eight games), since then we have been very good and very consistent. But the AAA say we are shit.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. anyone know what is the running order on match of the day tonight

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  10. when we played west ham away back in december we were 4 points behind them, now 11 games later we are 18 ahead of them, a 22 point turn around, but as phil brown told us only a couple of weeks ago, Big Sam is a better manager than Wenger.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Good to read Aaron’s comments on AFC – he’s really upbeat.

    Like

  12. one man team

    FK² @fkhanage · 5h 5 hours ago
    Flamini is our 15th different player to score in the league this season; the greatest variety of goalscorers in the league

    Liked by 2 people

  13. just a thought on the city defeat today, we have to go to Burnley in a couple of weeks, lets hope citys loss today stands as a warning to us.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Olivier Giroud has six goals and three assists in his last eight Premier League games

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Arsenal FC @FFArsenal · 5h 5 hours ago
    Arsenal have won 8 consecutive home league games for the first time since November 2005.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. the burnley goal today, was it kompany who headed the ball out to Boyd, another bit of sloppy play from the leagues best defender, when does his regular mistakes mean the pundits stop over rating his sorry over sized head

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  17. sunderland fans (at half time) who the media like to tell us are so loyal

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CAEdmMGWQAAvkXo.jpg:large

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  18. Giroud could out score Diego Costa this season yet, Costa has 17 from 27 games so far and Giroud has 14 from 17+7 so far.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Will Benn @WengerBoy1 · 20m 20 minutes ago
    Ridiculous that Alexis’ energy has become a stick to beat Ozil with when the latter is outperforming the former consistently right now

    Will Benn @WengerBoy1 · 20m 20 minutes ago
    “Ozil did more”

    “Yes, but Alexis looked like he did more”

    Liked by 1 person

  20. AB @behnisch · 3h 3 hours ago
    On Boxing Day, Man City were 12 points ahead of Arsenal. Today it’s down to just 1 point.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Howdy, y’all. Sorry so late, it’s been a busy day. I just have one thing to say anyway:

    Ramsey!!!!!!!!!!

    My boy was on fire today. Love to see that smile on his face.

    Liked by 3 people

  22. I shall have composed my thoughts at 10.

    I anticipate a top top blog – no excuses after the match today

    But that may be my burden

    ( squeaks with excitement)

    Like

  23. this is a great response to those throwing a wobbly about Ozil passing to walcott instead of shooting himself

    Michael Jeffares @mj_afc · 2h 2 hours ago
    Robert Pires once played a pass from the penalty spot. It happens, get over yourself.

    Like

  24. man city fan on 606

    pellergrini made a mistake winning the league in his first season
    should have concentrated on CL
    sell all the ACN players
    overhaul the squad
    recall and start Scott Sinclair – have you seen how good he is with Aston Villa

    the last one really had me thinking he must be one of those “we want our man city back” type of fans, it seems all clubs have idiot fans

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Leicester city boss Nigel Pearson knows what journos are

    Like

  26. ozil is playing so well…i hope they leave him alone.

    just because he makes things look easy everybody thinks he can do more..

    watch this and tell me you are not convinced that we are lucky to have him

    Liked by 1 person

  27. i’m really upset seeing some of the memes and reactions about ozil..fucking disgraceful..i was so upbeat yesterday..

    if you can’t appreciate ozil..you are problems in life 😦

    Liked by 2 people

  28. I’m weirded out by the reactions to Chambers. Kneejerk scapecoating is utterly contemptible.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. its a whole over reaction to Ozil passing to Walcott instead of shooting, yes my initial reaction was why did he not shoot, but having seen it again I would say the only fault was that his pass was very poor. Walcott actually called for the pass, so I assume he too thought it was the better option, and the angle Ozil as a left footer had was not as good as many seem to think. Also this one incident has been jumped upon by the AAA and Ozil haters to come out with tripe like he never shoots, totally ignoring that the half chance Walcott had when the keeper beat out a pile driver of a shot in the first half was actually from an Ozil shot with his right foot, so not only does Ozil shoot but unlike Alexis yesterday, he was prepared to shoot with his weaker foot, but none of these numpthies mention Alexis cos as we all know Alexis good, Ozil bad

    as for the slating Chambers is getting, as I pointed out yesterday, the view on him is predetermined, as it is with many of our players(you know some still say Ramsey and Giroud were poor yesterday), I noted yesterday that some even gave away their predetermined position on Chambers by saying “I don’t like him at right back”
    Chambers was caught out twice and by caught out I mean his man got a large amount of space out wide behind Chambers, this was down to two things, one Chambers, just like Bellerin seems to be encouraged to play infield close to Per, and secondly just like Bellerin, he is expected to get forward, didn’t our second goal all start with Chambers charging way out of position to intercept the ball in their half,
    The stick he is getting is like the nonsense gibbs gets, why can’t these idiots understand that if a player constantly takes up the same positions game after game, it is because that is where and what he is being told to do, its the game plan. The fact that it backfires now and again and costs us a goal is not down to some brain freeze by the player, just making things up as he goes along. Do these idiots think that if a player was constantly going out of position(as they see it), that Wenger would keep picking him(actually thinking about it maybe that is the drum the AAA are actually beating)

    Liked by 2 people

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