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Arsenal Versus West Ham: The Best Of Times, The Worst Of Times

tale two cities

Honestly, you wait weeks for a football match and then two show up at once. We’ve barely finished digesting Adrian Clarke’s Breakdown of the draw with Man City and already we need to contemplate the visit of West Ham.

A London derby, but perhaps not the most spicy of them, West Ham has nonetheless provided us with many an entertaining ninety minutes. None of us will want to reminisce for long upon last season’s Emirates encounter, and those of us who have reached a bumbling maturity may struggle to go back that far in any case. Thanks to the vagaries of the fixture list it’s been nearly two years since West Ham came to see us in the Premier League, came and behaved in a thoroughly disagreeable fashion I might add.

As Andy hinted in his most recent match review, much has changed since then. Our line up featured Debuchy, Mertesacker and Cazorla and we had no reason to suppose those three might not still be first choices come this season. It is, however, the visitors whose fortunes have been most altered since their unlikely opening day heroics.

Slaven Bilić had just replaced Fat Sam Allardyce the soon to be disgraced England football manager and it was their last season at the Boleyn Ground.They achieved their highest top flight points total, made the sixth round of the FA Cup, and even had a little dalliance with the Europa League. Their time there lasted until the Third Qualifying Round which might be a major achievement and it might not – this is after all not a competition we Arsenal fans know anything much about. Although it might be time to start brushing up on it if we fail to beat the Hammers this evening.

Well, suffice it to say the fairy tale did not last for Slaven and his boys. In common with many sides the move to a new stadium proved a dislocation, an unsettling settling in period for both players and fans alike. It’s something for which Arsène Wenger is seldom given sufficient credit. The move from Highbury, regardless of all the financial constraints it imposed, ought to have seen the side struggle, at least in the first season, as team and supporters felt themselves adrift in their new and still alien ‘home’. That Arsenal maintained their top four finish – the Mecca of all Premier League teams whatever the ‘fourth is not a trophy’ brigade tell you – speaks volumes for the man at the helm.

This season West Ham continued their brave tradition of reaching some obscurely named round of the Europa League before succumbing to the mighty Astra Giurgiu. They also pulled off memorable victories against Accrington Stanley and Chelsea reserves in the League Cup but otherwise it’s been a season to forget.

We, you may recall, put five past them back in the heady optimistic days of December and they have gone on to ship a total of fifty four goals since the season started. A sorry state of affairs which sees them sitting in the relegation zone and desperate for any succour they can get.

I am always wary of matches at the fag end of the season. The league and form tables can be easily confounded as sides in dire trouble with the trapdoor trembling beneath them can fight with a furious abandon born of reckless necessity. However, with no wins in their last six you have to think West Ham are leaving it mighty late in the day to begin the old backs to the wall routine.

We steadied our ship on Sunday, at last getting reward for a dogged never say die attitude which I believe the players have often showed this season. Hopefully the draw and manner in which it was achieved will get their heads in the right place for the battles to come, a resounding victory tonight would go a long way too.

So an intriguing prospect tonight. One side with a faint possibility of a top four finish, the other with a looming probability of one in the bottom three. Which incentive will be the greatest? It ought to come down to a comparative measurement of the side’s relative strengths but I don’t believe you can slide a rule over team sports with any degree of accuracy. Too much human frailty involved, too much at stake.

As far as the teams go it would be harsh indeed to bench Gabriel after a very creditable second half against City but I am intrigued at the thought that Per might provide the perfect foil for Andy Carroll’s long legs. However, I don’t indulge in meaningless speculation and am content to let those who know most about the players take such  decisions.

Right that’s it, the sun is shining, my hash browns are nearly done and I have better things to do than sit here thinking about Arsenal. Come seven forty five this evening I promise to give the club my fullest attention, until then I’m off out on my bike and then working in the garden. Don’t you just love this time of year?

 

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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87 comments on “Arsenal Versus West Ham: The Best Of Times, The Worst Of Times

  1. what a fucking cunt atkinson is, 3rd penalty of the night turned down, its beyond a joke

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Can’t argue with that.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. full time Arsenal 3-0 West Ham

    better team all game, Welbeck missed a couple of chances, ref Atkinson missed 3 clear penalties to Arsenal. Xhaka and Elneny controlled mifield, Ozil with a fine opener, assisted walcott for the second and subs ox and giroud combined for the 3rd. Atkinson a cunt, but pgmol will be delighted with him

    Liked by 2 people

  4. fucks sake spurs scored 3 goals in last few minutes to turn a 1-0 to swansea into a 3-1 for spurs, and the night was going so well. fuck it

    Like

  5. JB™‏ @gunnerpunner

    Atkinson is a cheat

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Charles Watts‏Verified account @charles_watts 14m14 minutes ago

    A West Ham player will literally have to pull out an axe and chop an Arsenal leg off for Atkinson to give a pen tonight.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. well at least chelsea have beaten city, so at least one rival has dropped 3pts

    Like

  8. Does any other team have to deal with such poor refereeing so one sided against them? 3 clear penalties not given, and a whole lot else where fouls called/not called were blatantly anti Arsenal.

    Good job then that we looked so totally in control today. A 4-3-3 as I saw it, with Ozil playing in midfield rather than a no.10, and Xhaka playing well and looking calm on the ball (once a bit too calm) and Elneny providing the energy and discipline.

    That Ozil can play in midfield and have such an influential and energetic game is very encouraging. I really do think we need that sort of formation to give us better control in midfield without the technical security that Santi provides.

    A good defensive performance almost all throughout the game, and a very effective, if not entirely efficient attacking performance.

    Happy with the performance and result, but as is virtually the norm these days, I find myself feeling highly disillusioned with the state of the refereeing in Arsenal games and wondering if it’s worth watching such a farce.

    Liked by 5 people

  9. Liverpool 2-2 Bournemouth – afc now 6pts behind lfc but with 2 games in hand, 4pts behind city with a game in hand. we are doomed i tell you, doomed

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  10. was that xhaka’s best performance for arsenal, I thought he was outstanding

    Liked by 2 people

  11. More like it! How did spurs score 3?

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  12. If we win our two games in hand we will likely jump to third spot….

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Nick Harris‏Verified account @sportingintel 29m29 minutes ago

    Man City’s last 95 (ninety-five) Premier League games AWAY when losing at half-time (dating back to April 1995):

    Won 0
    Drawn 11
    Lost 84

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Özil vs West Ham
    115 touches
    86% pass accuracy
    5 key passes
    3 dribbles 1 tackle
    2 interceptions
    8 ball recoveries
    1 goal
    1 assist

    Liked by 3 people

  15. Better from Sanchez today, loved that backheel for the second. and the pass to set up Özil for that chance was so good it surprised the No.10! Our beloved footballing maniac just needs to keep himself further up the field when attacking…

    Xhaka progressing as expected, nice control of CM with Steady Elneny. Monreal back to his best.

    COYG!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Did the loss of Antonio who’d only just returned from injury after that good/goal scoring spell earlier in the season affect the Hammers in that second half?

    Like

  17. Ozil stat for season so far,

    games 30+3
    goals 10
    assists 11

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Football__Tweet‏ @Football__Tweet 1h1 hour ago

    Pep Guardiola has now lost 6 league games in a single season for the first time in his managerial career. Premier League is different level.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. So Arsenal is gradually reverting to the mean. Rather than wallowing in despair and despondency, as most would have it, some of us trust 20 years of data (760 games) to make our predictions.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Boss discusses Mesut Ozil’s performance

    Mesut Ozil sparkled in our 3-0 win over West Ham United on Wednesday night.

    The playmaker opened the scoring with a curling shot before setting up the second for Theo Walcott.

    After the match, Arsène Wenger discussed Ozil’s performance. This is what he said:

    on whether something has been lifted from Mesut tonight…
    I feel that he is back physically, with focus. He felt, I think I know him quite well, I felt he had been hit hard by us going out in the Champions League and it took him some time to recover from that mentally. I feel for a few weeks now in training that he is really focused again and that comes out in the game.

    on whether it’s important to now credit Mesut…
    Of course, of course. We live in a world of extremes. We are always praised maybe more than we deserve it when it goes well and punished more than we deserve it when it doesn’t go well, but that’s the whole world.

    Copyright 2017 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

    Like

  21. Well ,that was enjoyable.
    An excellent performance, others may make the headlines, but very impressed with Xhaka and Elneny.
    Ozil back to his creative self, a goal and assist.
    Credit to our keeper as well, hope he enjoyed that.
    You could sense something flowing back into the team, the fans in the stadium certainly picked up on it and backed them all the way.
    Some very positive chanting around the Arsenal fan TV boys at the end, any negativity would have been drowned out by a pretty large, and good natured…..mainly positive crowd.
    Those who wanted to just back the team were out in force this eve.
    As for Atkinson, he should not be allowed to referee Arsenal games, he clearly has a problem with us. A disgrace, but no doubt we will see him again soon at some vital juncture.

    Liked by 4 people

  22. FULL TRANSCRIPT: Arsene Wenger talks Ozil, Elneny, top four and fans chanting his name

    ByCharles Watts

    23:07, 5 APR 2017Updated23:11, 5 APR 2017

    On the performance and result
    You could see that even though the result wasn’t what we wanted against City, it had a positive impact on the morale of the team.
    In the first half we needed to be patient but in the second half our technical superiority made the difference.
    At the end it was a convincing win with good individual performances from everybody from the goalkeeper to the striker.
    It was a good result and a relief as well because we have gone through a bad period.
    I think you can say the mentality of the team is healthy and that is good.

    Where has that performance been hiding?
    We had difficult games, but somebody just reminded me we have scored over 100 goals this season already.
    Theo Walcott celebrates with Mesut Ozil after making it 2-0.
    So I felt going forward we were always good but defensively in recent weeks we were not efficient enough.

    The confidence seemed to be oozing from the players. They were playing for the manager
    I don’t know. They play first for the club and for themselves.
    Of course I am part of the club as well.
    I never questioned the mentality of the team. But when you go through a difficult period the happiness and confidence goes quickly and comes back slowly.
    Even to come back you need some work and that’s what we have to continue to do now.
    Keep the same attitude, the same work ethic because we are on a difficult run. Let’s show what we are made of.

    On whether a place in the top four is still up for grabs?
    It’s possible of course. We have a game in hand on City – we have players back from injury, we had a strong bench tonight.
    We have done it before in more difficult conditions. We have to do it again.

    Could you get higher than fourth?
    I’ll be cautious tonight.

    On Elneny’s performance
    He gives us fluency. Elneny is a continuity player who wants to help the team. His attitude is always to help the team.
    He is always available and quickly available.

    On whether tonight’s front four could be the front four for the rest of the season
    Not necessarily – I just try to pick in every game the team I think is the right one.
    I had some big players on the bench tonight.

    On Ozil’s performance
    I feel that he is back physically with focus.
    I know him quite well, I felt he was hit quite hard by us going out in the Champions League – it took him some time to recover from that mentally.
    I feel for a few weeks now in training he is really focused again.
    He whether it’s important he gets credit when things go well
    Of course. We live in a world of extremes. We are always praised more than we deserve it when it goes well and punished more than we deserve it when it doesn’t go well.
    But that’s our world.

    On the fans chanting his name at the end
    I’m happy when people are happy.
    When you are such a long time at the club you care deeply about people who care about the club and you know how sad they are when it doesn’t go well.
    I can take care of myself because I’m used to dealing with difficult periods.
    But you want people who love the club to be happy so I’m happy.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Mandy after that performance from Atkinson I would expect him to get to ref our fa cup semi final

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Great stuff tonight, building on Sunday’s tentative first steps. West Ham, defended well for most of the first half with lots of support from the man in black, but they look like a team that is well in a slump. Andy Carroll is completely devoid of ideas other than jumping into his opponent at every opportunity and leading with his head or elbow as much as possible. A decent referee should have spotted what was going on and carded him before he injures someone. Tonight has to be one of the worst, most one-sided refereeing performances I have seen all season. It’s a disgrace that it is allowed to go on unchallenged.

    Martinez didn’t have much to do, but he did well when called upon and I’m pleased for him and the defence that they got a clean sheet. Gabriel was excellent tonight and it’s good to see Mustafi returning to his early season form – perhaps the sight of the BFG on the bench, ready and able to step in is keeping him on his toes. Mesut was MoTM without doubt and I wondered whether it was the presence of Elneny that gave the midfield much better balance? He was everywhere tonight and created a good bridge between defence and attack. Being captain seems to suit Theo, as I thought he was also very industrious tonight. Altogether, it was great to see signs of the early season Arsenal making a comeback. Let’s hope the team can keep it going and build on this.

    Liked by 5 people

  25. afcstuff‏ @afcstuff 1h1 hour ago

    #afc after 29 PL games:

    Last season:
    46 goals scored
    30 goals conceded
    52 points

    This season:
    61 goals scored
    36 goals conceded
    54 points

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Ed, he won’t get our semi final, he will get our cup final, unfolds research suggest he has a bit of a soft spot for Chelsea, even Fergie, who knew a thing or two about the refs he even selected them for OT said Atkinson shouldn’t referee Chelsea vs Utd games.

    Notice MOTD analysis after the game dissects Theo’s alleged handball leading up to our goal, but no mention of the penalties we should have been given afterwards, tho they did show and comment on the final stonewaller on Monreal….good of them

    Liked by 3 people

  27. ^ Untold Arsenals research

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  28. Good point about the crowd tonight Mandy – perhaps the silent majority are fed up of being associated with the negative WOB’s and have decided to open their gobs and be heard backing the team? The only booing tonight was aimed fully at Atkinson and it’s funny how there was no sign of any protesters tonight whereas they were highly visible on Sunday

    Liked by 3 people

  29. Didn’t see any protesters either Passenal….and not much evidence I could see on the 13 minutes either. The crowd really were behind the team, conspicuously so.
    As for Atkinsons performance, all predicted, and predictable
    http://untold-arsenal.com/archives/60785

    Untold have a habit of not only predicting the performances of refs, they often predict the actual refs for major games.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Only saw highlights but looked a good win with some lovely skill in there.

    Motd…I just have to turn over the second they start talking about us.

    Like

  31. Lots of complete lies on the WOB forums ….highly exaggerated numbers of empty seats, the numbers involved in minute 13 protest, and even players not celebrating after goals…..not sure which match they have been watching! Ok Giroud wasn’t so animated…..but the rest?
    Apparently wengers announcement of a new contract is imminent….after a win if you believe the malcontents.for all I know they may be right.
    None of us, know what wengers intentions are, though from the spirit shown from the players, maybe they have an inkling…..but just hope we can have a strong and successful finish to give Wenger a platform to stay should he decide, and should he not, a healthy situation for the new man. That is the aim, and still well within this teams reach if confidence and fluid play returns…..this eve looked positive

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Daily Cannon‏ @DailyCannon

    Three nailed on Arsenal penalties and they’re debating Arsenal’s first goal #bbcmotd

    Liked by 3 people

  33. Mesut Ozil has so far scored or assisted a goal at a ratio of 1 in less than 2 games

    150 Games for AFC
    30 goals
    51 Assists

    107 Premier League Games
    21 Goals
    39 Assists

    but none of that matters when you consider his body language. Although I suspect it has more to do with him being German and of course a Muslim too

    Liked by 2 people

  34. Wenger has had two major challenges in the past 3 months: (1) Reshape the midfield in the absence of Santi. Now gradually resembling a 4-3-3. (2) Rebuild the confidence that was patently drained after the two ECL defeats on Bayern. Mesut Ozil is like a man reborn; Alexis is playing within the team. Hmm.

    Talk about reverting to the mean. Arsene Wenger’s teams are known for strong finishes.

    Liked by 2 people

  35. New post up

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  36. This is a new football blog, feedback would be appreciated.
    The first blog discusses Lingards new contract .
    https://t.co/REww69Ge1S

    Like

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