210 Comments

West Ham v Arsenal: A Prize-Less Draw

 

Honours even, it’s Boleyn over and out

A gripping, fast-paced and compelling derby ended in frustrating stalemate for both teams and their fans, with possibly the visitors feeling the dropped two points more keenly than the home side.  Having been 0-2 up on the brink of half-time, Arsenal found themselves three-two down within minutes of the break.  That their principal nemesis was a lump of a player taking full advantage of superb, almost militarily precise service and the determination of a referee to ‘manage’ the game as opposed to applying the rules of it, was typically galling.  But as on so many other occasions, imagined or otherwise by this writer, Arsenal were again undone by a player having his best game-of-the-season/career.

The ‘Ammers were fortunate not to be hammered for Carroll’s use of the studs, the elbow and a haircut too horrific to describe in decent company.  With the quality of service and the desire of the player himself in all too rare alignment for the East-enders, whilst the score line ended in parity, the disparity of a (relatively) height-challenged Arsenal side was exposed in all its limitations with the continued side-lining of both Mertesacker and Cech leaving them seemingly exposed to aerial attack at the back.

How we missed a player of the stature of Adams or Campbell opined the purists.  Given the sunset creeping around Per’s career, this could well be an ‘item’ already down on Arsene’s summer shopping list, suggested others.

However, despite the disparity, it feels something of a revelation that Andrew Carroll only won 5 of his 12 aerial battles against the cultured midgets and, given his height advantage, that he scored from 3 of those 5 is indicative of our defensive endeavour.  Sadly, an endeavour that proved not effective enough as it turned out, and the tactics of Bilic were as clear as daylight from pretty much the opening minutes of the game.  Without more height in defence, it’s unlikely this will be the last time we will find ourselves targeted in this fashion, this season or the next.

The other worrying stat brought into ever-sharper focus as a result of this weekend’s draw is the scarcity of points taken off our London rivals this season – just 6 points out of 21. Yet there was evidently no lack of desire on the part of our players today and there was a point when we almost made it 0-3, just prior to Carroll’s towering contributions, where you might have thought West Ham would have been dead and buried with the concession of one more goal.

But this stat has also to be taken in the context of a superb home record with the Happy ones now unbeaten in 14 games. Without meaning to sound bitter, it is very evident that the teams relying on a more ‘robust’ variant of the beautiful game benefit the most from the abject failure of referees to apply the rules as opposed to ‘managing the game’. Players like Carroll know with absolute certainty they can get away with sporting murder and the fact he was booked in minute four did little to deter his muscular interpretation of the rules of the beautiful (but managed) game.

So we are left third on 59 points.  Recent games have seen evidence of teams cottoning on to Leicester’s tactics as a spate of 1-0’s would appear to testify.  Interestingly, the possession stats in Saturday’s game – 39%-61% – mirror the tactics of the Plucky Ones: concede possession but hit hard on the counter. Spuds seemed suddenly less confident in their last (drawn) game. But despite this it’s hard to imagine both teams now collapsing to the point where we can realistically hope to take the championship this term.  My gut feeling is 2nd place IS realistic and very much up for grabs and would represent progress, on paper, at least.  In our heart of hearts, this season will most likely go down as the championship that got away and it’s safe to assume the banner industry will enjoy a mini-boom thanks to the disillusion on the part of some and the willingness of others to show themselves up as spoilt brats, giddy on publicity, oblivious to context and circumstance.

All I’d personally wish for is one season – just the one – where injuries don’t come to the rescue of our rivals. I do think Leicester have played some scintillating football this season and whilst the refs have hardly treated them harshly (and no matter the size of the glut, penalties don’t score themselves you know), they have played with great spirit and largely deserve to be where they are today.  Leicester aside, I genuinely do not believe there are any better sides than a fully fit Arsenal team.  That we beat the Midlanders, home and away, tells some sort of story though their superior consistency remains undeniable regardless of the background detail. Congratulations to Leicester on an outstanding effort; their (initially) impudent victories against Chelsea, Tottenham, Stoke, Liverpool, and M City in particular will live long in the memory.

* * *

Back in December, the Premier League table did not make pretty reading for the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool, and United in particular. It was close to the half-way stage of the season when I wrote a piece for PA which was based on observations of what appeared to be happening.  It was not intended as a prediction but in many ways, I’m delighted, for the sake of football in this country, that the following words still appear to hold some truth as we hurtle towards season’s end:

“… despite Man U having the highest revenue at £433 million, with City on £348m, and Chelsea on £324m, the (relatively) smaller English sides are now earning enough to buy – and pay – players of a sufficient quality to cause real problems for all the ‘big’ clubs.

 Yes, something rather wonderful is happening to English football.

 The old guard is no longer having things entirely their own way and there will be many nervous eyes cast in the direction of the explosive impact all this [new TV] cash will have on the cosy cartel that once dominated English football.

 Now everybody in the League have got their hands on the loot.

 As the prospects for the biggest clubs hang in the balance, everybody has a chance to win again and, happily, things may never be quite the same again.”

The siren voices presently shrieking for the head of Arsene Wenger all fail to take account of the relative – yet colossal – failures of just three clubs who have joint annual revenues north of £1 billion.  Banner owners everywhere wilfully ignore the debilitating impact of our own club’s injuries on an otherwise superb squad.  And they naively assume Arsene won’t strengthen in the summer despite the imminent retirement of numerous players once considered a key part of the squad.  The latest revolution within the game continues apace and yet still Wenger keeps Arsenal ahead of most of the pack, a club that is always there, always competing.

Yes, it’s possible that their activities today may drive him out in 2017.

But by then, we may all be begging him to stay.

 

ArsenalAndrew is on Twitter @arsenalandrew.

About ArsenalAndrew

Optimist and lifelong supporter of the finest football club the world has ever seen.

210 comments on “West Ham v Arsenal: A Prize-Less Draw

  1. Crisis at the Camp Nou

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  2. ha ha ha ref denies Barca a clear penalty

    Liked by 1 person

  3. jeez last week it was the Suarez love in, now our fickle fans have decided that Simone is the one who deserves our love and admiration, I wish they would make their mind up

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  4. Superb performance from referee Rizzoli tonight in Madrid, having to put up with those 22 cheating shitbags for 90 minutes

    How he resisted sending off half a dozen I don’t know – very professional

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Keep up Eddy – Wenger fucked up the signing of Greizmann – No one remembers who Suarez is

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  6. AndyNic – You have been reading that pro Greizmann tweets by another sage who is now desperately campaigning for the club to blow the £200 million “spare cash” and £40 million TV money on new transfers? That is how we roll when we predict a title and things don’t go according to our wishes. Take Stan and Wenger out on Twitter and teach them how to spend.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. fuck anicol, I miss the Owen Coyle and Darren Bent days, life was so much simpler then.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Jan Hagen ‏@PortuBall 3h3 hours ago
    Arsenal, Man United, Man City, Barcelona & Juventus have scouts at Estádio da Luz for Benfica vs Bayern tonight.

    Like

  9. afcstuff ‏@afcstuff 1h1 hour ago
    Özil in the PL this season:

    Most final third passes: 708
    Most chances created: 121
    Most assists: 18

    [Squawka] #afc

    Like

  10. Neil Brooks ‏@NeilBrooksAFC 55m55 minutes ago
    I recognise the discipline, heart and organisation of Atletico. It’s admirable, but, does anyone enjoy watching that style of football?

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  11. and the anybody but Wenger wankfest will continue on to Thursday night with Klopp vs Turchel.

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  12. That will teach me to joke about the Scarfists and Greizmann Shotts !

    Regarding last night’s game I could not watch that week in and week out

    Technically brilliant players, who spend more time and effort cheating than playing football

    Fucking disgraceful

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I see the tactical expert fans are all now saying, after Atletico beat Barca, that “possession and passing” football is finished and only “counter attacking” football brings success
    Now this may be true, but what happens if both teams set up to play counter attacking football. This is a serious question.

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  14. so Leicester fan Kevin Friend has been stood down from reffing Tottenham this weekend due to conflict of interest, but he has already taken charge of two Tottenham matches and three Arsenal matches this season in the BPL.

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  15. Après moi le déluge ‏@double_canister 10m10 minutes ago
    @Lordhillwood All the Ref’s are Leicester Fans

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  16. Ryan Harden
    ‏@bry5913
    To highlight what a bunch of wasters he’s had to deal with this year. Mahrez has created 48 chances, 11 assists. Ozil 122 chances 18 assists

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  17. Dezil Dez
    ‏@DezilDez Dezil Dez Retweeted Daddy Sturridge
    Özil has 10 goals and assists in 9 games against the top 6 teams.

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  18. TEAM NEWS: WILSHERE, ROSICKY, OX, SANTI

    Arsène Wenger has revealed the latest team news ahead of Sunday’s Premier League game against Crystal Palace:

    on Oxlade-Chamberlain and Cazorla…
    Next week they will be back maybe, they are not back in full training yet. They are still on fitness work.

    on Wilshere and Rosicky…
    Jack and Tomas are playing today for the under-21s. They have had no reaction from last Friday’s game and they look alright.

    on other team news…
    From last Saturday’s game against West Ham, we should have everyone available who was in the squad.

    Copyright 2016 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to http://www.arsenal.com as the source

    Read more at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20160414/team-news-wilshere-rosicky-ox-santi#0zBtDRTGkWvHWWaL.99

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  19. so when are the u 21s playing?

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  20. REPORT- GNABRY SCORES AND WILSHERE FEATURES BUT ARSENAL U21S’ TITLE HOPES ARE DENTED BY SWANSEA
    U21 Premier League- Division 2

    Swansea City 3 (King, Gorre, Bray) Arsenal 1 (Gnabry)

    Screen shot 2016-04-04 at 13.24.34

    Arsenal U21s saw their hopes of automatic promotion dented today as they were beaten 3-1 by Swansea City, although there were some positives to take from proceedings as first-team midfielders Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky stepped up their respective returns to full fitness, while Serge Gnabry provided a reminder of his quality with a stunning goal.

    Swansea had former Arsenal goalkeeper Josh Vickers to thank for making some excellent saves to keep the young Gunners at bay.

    Wilshere played the full game and Rosicky was on the field for 71 minutes, but neither was able to inspire the young Gunners to victory and attention will now turn to the final league game of the season at home to West Bromwich Albion on Monday.

    A win in that fixture would see Arsenal top the table but even if they don’t succeed there is still a chance for them to be promoted via the play-offs.

    Coach Steve Gatting fielded a very strong side, with first-team players Wilshere, Rosicky and Gnabry all returning to the fray. Kaylen Hinds, meanwhile, was given a starting berth after making a stellar impact as a substitute against Derby County on Monday. Stefan O’Connor made a welcome return from injury and was named on the bench.

    Macey

    Moore-Bielik-Pleguezuelo-M. Bola

    Reine Adelaide-Wilshere

    Gnabry-Rosicky-C. Willock

    Hinds

    Subs: Nelson (for C. Willock, 61), Sheaf (for Rosicky, 71), Crowley (for Reine-Adelaide, 82)

    Not used: Keto, O’Connor.

    Arsenal started well, with Gnabry forcing a save from former Gunner Josh Vickers. The goalkeeper, who was released by Arsenal last year, then made an impressive stop to thwart the lively Hinds.

    Swansea then carved out their first opportunity of the game and they very nearly scored, with Joe Rodon’s header rattling the crossbar.

    The Welsh side’s next attack would result in the game’s opening goal. Arsenal have improved defensively of late, but they were unable to prevent Adam King heading home from Nikola Maric’s cross as Swansea took the lead.

    Arsenal attempted to respond, but they were finding it difficult to get the better of Vickers, with the goalkeeper doing well to keep out Gnabry’s free-kick.

    Tafari Moore, who was making his return to action, then shot wide when well placed as Arsenal finally started to see more of the ball, and the Gunners then had a penalty claim waved away when Rosicky felt he had been fouled in the area.

    Arsenal still had to be alert at the other end, however, with Matt Macey having to come to the rescue when a Swansea attempt deflected off Krystian Bielik.

    Arsenal were struggling to break Swansea down and the hosts always seemed more dangerous in an attacking sense. That point was borne out when Kenji Gorre doubled Swansea’s advantage with a sweet finish beyond the reach of Macey.

    To their credit Arsenal continued to stride forwards thereafter, but Hinds was unable to find the net and then Vickers was called upon again to make a good stop from Jeff Reine-Adelaide.

    Wilshere then had his first attempt of the game, with the England international shooting over the crossbar, but Swansea held on to go into the break in the ascendancy.

    Once the second half got underway Arsenal immediately sought to reduce the deficit, with Hinds coming close to scoring.

    Swansea continued to threaten, however, with Macey, who made some excellent saves against Derby, doing well to make two impressive stops on this occasion.

    Rosicky then had a chance at the other end, but his effort was easily gathered by Vickers, who also had no problems in keeping out a further attempt from Gnabry.

    Arsenal then made their first alteration, with schoolboy Reiss Nelson entering the fray in place of Chris Willock.

    The Gunners continued to charge forwards, with full-back Marc Bola shooting wide and Swansea responded with a chance of their own as Maric came close to scoring.

    In an eventful game Gnabry’s free-kick went just over the crossbar and Macey still had to be alert to make a good save. Arsenal were then handed a lifeline when Gnabry found the net with a powerful effort as the Gunners finally managed to get the better of Vickers.

    That flicker of hope didn’t last for very long at all, however, as Swansea soon made it 3-1 through Alex Bray.

    Swansea had another chance late on through Gorre, but the damage had already been done and thoughts will now start to turn to Monday night’s game.

    Posted in Uncategorized on April 14, 2016 by Jeorge Bird.

    Like

  21. #GattingOut

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  22. believe it or not anicol some idiots are spouting that sort of rubbish, you see for them he failed to “motivate the players to win the game”, imagine thinking a manager should have to motivate players for a game that would win them the league, you couldn’t make it up. any player not self motivated for such a game, will have no future at Arsenal or at the top level of the game.

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  23. Sniper ‏@clockendsniper 46m46 minutes ago
    Not Klopps team is losing to not Tuchel’s team whilst not Ranieri’s team is winning the lge.

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  24. Martyn Ziegler ‏@martynziegler 10h10 hours ago
    Wow: West Ham will not have to pay for police, stewarding, heating, pitch maintenance – or even costs of corner flags at Olympic Stadium

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  25. I wonder if Legroan still want Tuchel

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  26. there will be some wank fest over liverpool in the media now.

    LFC tonight
    not klopps team
    certainly not klopps team
    might be klopps team
    certainly not klopps team
    might be klopps team
    Klopps team
    certainly is klopps team

    Like

  27. Well played by Liverpool to score 3 goals to 25 minutes. The Teuchel bandwagon emptying as fast as it was filling. I guess the WOBs will have to latch onto Kloppy.

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  28. Andrew Gaffney ‏@GaffneyVLC 7m7 minutes ago
    Technically this is a win for Rodger’s Liverpool against Klopp’s Dortmund, right?

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  29. Sniper ‏@clockendsniper 12m12 minutes ago
    From now on I won’t need to check any results. I’m just going to check out who Arsenal should have got after any game.

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  30. Must be really hard being a WOB, so many managers, so much hype, so not going to happen

    Liked by 3 people

  31. it is amazing Mandy that for people who love to spout “its Arsenal FC not Arsene FC”, they spend so much of their time obsessing over everything Arsene. and waste so much time discussing and proposing candidates for the Arsenal managers job, when currently no vacancy is there, and is not likely to be a vacancy for at least another year. Its rather funny seeing them switch from one “new, current, up to date, modern” manager to the next “new, current, up to date, modern” manager, without a flicker of irony after their old beau drops a clanger or flops badly, or is even sacked. Its as if they never mentioned him in the first place.

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  32. 1886 ‏@1886_blog 3h3 hours ago
    Amazing what strong support can do. If that was the Emirates, some fans would have left, whilst the wankers would have their banners out.

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  33. Don’t think the WOB have ever got over their unfulfilled love for Owen Coyle

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  34. Cruel Mandy @ 1:42pm, cruel.

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  35. James Olley ‏@JamesOlley 1h1 hour ago
    Wenger says Wilshere will play for U21s against on Monday night and if he comes through, he’ll be considered for first-team action.

    so if Wilshere comes through the U21 game v West Brom, he will be in contention for a first team return v West Brom.

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  36. Jack Green ‏@JGreen_52 1h1 hour ago
    Wenger on Cech v Ospina: ‘I have not decided that yet. Cech is our number one but Ospina is a fantastic goalkeeper.’

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  37. watched highlights of the U21 game v Swansea, defensive mistakes on all 3 games, and at 1-0 down, Rosicky had a clear penalty not given (this Arsenal will not have a penalty is not just for the first team, our u21’s and U18’s have so many clear penalties not given its unreal).
    Swansea once they got ahead seemed to play with everyone back and hit on the break. and their goalie, ex arsenal youth, Josh Vickers, had a stormer too.

    Arsenal now need to beat West Brom on Monday to win the division and get promotion, fail to win and they are in a 4 team play off for promotion.

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  38. AB ‏@behnisch 36m36 minutes ago
    I might not know a lot about football, one of the few things I’m sure about: 80% of coach sackings make no sense, except pleasing the public

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  39. afcstuff ‏@afcstuff 7h7 hours ago
    #afc least penalties awarded in a PL season:
    2015/16: 2
    2011/12, 2013/14: 3
    2002/03, 2009/10: 4
    2008/09, 2012/13: 5

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  40. The crippling injuries (Welbeck, Wilshere, Cazorla, Ramsey, Alexis, Coquelin, Chamberlain) and the strange lack of penalties have already been airbrushed out to leave a picture-perfect image of a train wreck of a season. You’d need a genius of a manager and a resilient squad full of mentally strong leaders to have stayed in the mix for so long I reckon.

    Liked by 2 people

  41. Relax, it’s Saturday morning. Browse Twitter. PG is a permanent fixture on there doing battle with bona fide fuckwits. I don’t no where he gets his inspiration and tenacity.

    But today I have read tweets that demonstrate how ignorant the harsh critics of Arséne Wenger truly are. They are criticising him for another poor summer of transfers (before it has come and gone) because of the possible impact of Brexit. Can it be of such minor consequence? Do these people really live in such a football focused bubble of ignorance. Of course, yes. I personally know plenty and they have no interest in much other than football. Many are “authoritarian populists” i.e., everything is black or white, scapegoats abound. Their world collapses without someone to blame for something or other. Whatever, one might believe the ramifications of Brexit could be momentous, really very much so. Wenger understands this and said so. But that is a cue for this simpletons to start another campaign.

    Liked by 4 people

  42. When you’ve spent th better part of three years studiously ignoring the tax(ing) concerns of Neymar, The Madrid owner, the Malaga owner and the top top class scavenging by that canny old bird Arsene Vulture that resulted in the arrivals of Sanchez, Ozil and Cazorla respectively, when you have airbrushed this understanding from your world in order for to allow yourself the nod along with such Sages as Linekar, Savage, Partridge (A.) etc. What other choice is there?

    Boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen: it’s Michu or bust.
    Anything less and I will blame it all, all of it, to the last drop *hic* I blame it all on Venga.

    Liked by 2 people

  43. when quoting Arsene no one ever quotes the questions he was answering, therefore the responce is always taken out of context. When you see a quote about Arsene you can virtually guarentee its misquoted or out of context.

    Liked by 4 people

  44. finsbury I don’t know why you are giving credit to Wenger for the signings of Cazorla, Ozil and Alxis, that was all down to Gazidis or was it Law, just as the signings of Campbell, Pires and Petit were all down to Dein, fins do you not know Wenger only responsible for signings like Silvestre, Squillaci, Wreh, Stepanovs, Almunia or any of todays scapegoats like Walcott, Campbell, Gaberial etc.

    Liked by 3 people

  45. a_o_b, yes certainly when the question is included with Wenger’s answer, it so often changes the whole context of the answer, but the AAA/WOB know this, and that is why they ignore it, just as they know that the sort of headlines the Express and Guardian are pedaling today actually bear no resemblance to the actual quotes contained in them from Wenger. No where did he say it did not matter if Spurs finish above us, or that Arsenal’s transfer dealings will be minimal this summer. But the AAA/WOB have lapped it up and are repeating it ad hoc as if it was gospel

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  46. The willful simplification of complex issues is one of the stock in trade tricks of all populist dictators. I’m guessing that Mr Murdoch, who effectively owns much of football, has very good reasons for wanting AW portrayed as a nutty professor. But the slavish misrepresentation of all he says does get a little tiresome after a while.

    Liked by 3 people

  47. If Brexit were to happen it could be quite handy to have a British core already established in your squad, which is why this wild speculation about the bulk of them being sold this summer seems strange.

    Liked by 1 person

  48. It’s going to seen even stranger when Corporal Jenko recovers and rejoins the squad next season! When hopefully Wilshere will be fit and we won’t see a slightly fatigued Ozil as in recent weeks as per the gaffer’s latest comments – the plan seems to have been to have had a rotating pool of tens who can also play elsewhere alas Ozil is the only one fit of Cazorla, Ramsey, Wilshere, Chamberlain and now Iwobi (also Home Grown) putting his name in the hat.

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  49. On a theme of Brexit I see that many wobs on my time line seem quite keen to kick Bruxelles in the sprouts.

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