Arsenal vs West Ham: The Sweet Bitter Taste of Victory


Arsenal’s 4:1 margin of victory over West Ham while convincing was no easy romp in the park.  The game took place in the presence of a hugely, omnipresent emotional backdrop triggered by Arsene’s announcement last Friday of his intention to resign at season-end after 22 years. As the television cameras made obvious, the Emirates was filled to the rafters and the atmosphere was electric. Clearly every game, ‘til the last of the season, will be like a public viewing of the mortal remains of the great man. Obviously supporters will have the opportunity to show their respect and appreciation for Wenger, but unfortunately it will provide cover for those who reviled and disrespected him to pretend otherwise. So much of what is on display is maudlin and distasteful but it is typical of the auto-mourning by the Twitter and Facebook generation. Much of the hype and hullabaloo is the inevitable result of the marriage of convenience between professional football and the commercial broadcasters who now provide the lion’s share of Premier League revenue.

1st Half

It was evident from the start that West Ham were up for the occasion. They hadn’t come to North London to roll over and have their tummies tickled. Despite being without four (4) of their regular starters, the Arsenal team tried to impose their passing rhythm on the game from the off but the Hammers would have none of it. They pressed and harassed every player in red and to shutdown the passing lanes. Despite West Ham’s best efforts, by the 3rd minute, in a move that was ominous, Aaron Ramsey burst through the midfield to round off a passing move and fire away at goal. It was a statement; Arsenal was determined to create goal-scoring chances in contrast to the paucity of attempts at Newcastle, a week earlier.

As the game unfolded, the home team and the visitors traded blows. Hart must have been happy to see a headed corner by Koscielny sail over the bar in the 8th minute. Shortly after, the Hammers opened up the Arsenal defense with a slick series of passes letting their J. Maro get off a good shot. Minutes after being culpable for a defensive error, there was an outstanding last ditch tackle by Mustafi  to prevent Lanzini getting off a shot. On the 14th minute, Arnautovic in a 1 vs 1 with Mustafi, following a long ball down the side, as the German contested the pass but falling on his backside, the Swiss international moved inside and drove wide of Ospina.  Bellerin then blazed a shot over the bar in the 22nd minute. Two minutes later Welbeck let fly a fierce left-footed shot to left of Hart. 33rd minute, there is a foul on Danny 20 yards away on the right and Xhaka’s free kick is over the wall but straight at the keeper. 38th minute and Arnautovic slams Koscielny while backing-in but rolls around holding his ankle as if he is the victim. Happily, the rotund, corpulent Lee Mason, isn’t fooled and awards the freekick to Arsenal. One minute later, the obligatory red mist descends on Xhaka and he goes in for a 2-footed tackle earning him a yellow card. 40th minute, Elneny and Noble go for a 50:50 ball. In my view Noble is late and there is a clash of boots mid air and Elneny hits the deck with his ankle rolled under him. The usually calm, unruffled Egyptian demonstrates violently he is in great discomfort and the physio scampers on. No surprise he is taken off on a stretcher and is replaced by the now locks-free Maitland-Niles. (Couldn’t help but observe he is a handsome boy; no wonder his Mummy is so protective.)

Game resumes after 4 minutes and West Ham wins a corner which is easily defended as the visitors clearly put the ball out of touch. But the rotound Mason sees different and awards another corner. Happily the second corner is easily seen off and is the occasion for a counter attack culminating with a shot attempt by Ramsey, again. The half-time whistle goes sounds at the 49th minute.

Half-Time follies

Honors even at half-time and, based on my blow-by-blow, report it is evident that Arsenal had more attempts and more shots on target with West Ham posing the occasional threat. Yet the half-time analysis by the so-called experts is the usual bitching and moaning that Arsenal’s failure to overwhelm West Ham is a blight on Wengers tactics; too much passing (i.e. the ones that help players in position to get better shots on goal), insufficient shots from distance (i.e. those low probability shots that simply turn the ball over to the opposition) and too many defensive errors (i.e. it is Wenger’s fault Mustafi gets nutmegged or falls on his ass when he mistimes a tackle). It is the same narrative game after game that a majority of fans seem to lap up uncritically.

2nd Half

At the resumption,  Gary Neville, who is doing color commentary on my feed,  also feels the need to pile-on with his studio “experts” whinging about “same old” Arsenal for failing  to score and letting West Ham back in the game. Like many in the Arsenal fanbase, Neville believes Arsenal should be rolling over West Ham. How dare the East Londoners successfully put up so much resistance. Apparently nobody told him, and the many other relics from the nineties and noughties, that Arsene no longer has the cream of French talent at his disposal. Since 2005, when Arsenal began selling off the Invincibles to pay for the new stadium; City, Chelsea and United each spent nearly 1 billion on transfers while Arsene was left to scrounge for bargains in the 2nd and 3rd tier bins.

As if to make mockery of Neville and his ilk, the Arsenal begin the 2nd half at high tempo putting the Hammers under immediate pressure. A 47th minute shot by Monreal is on target. In response West Ham counter attack but Arsenal recover the ball and Danny Welbeck breaks away forcing Zabaletta to make a 2-footed tackle to bring him down. Only a yellow card. Lucky bugger in my opinion. In the ensuing two minutes Arsenal are able to pin West Ham into the final-third resulting in corner after a corner and they finally break in the 51st minute. From what seems to be a training ground routine, Xhaka loops the ball in the region of the penalty spot for Monreal to drive home.  Arsenal go in search of the 2nd goal, and on the 56th minute Ramsey blasts a shot from just outside the box to the left of Hart.

As is evident most of this season, the current Arsenal team is not set-up nor does it have purely defensively-oriented players who can hold out for 40 minutes and eke out a 1:0 win. It was therefore predictable that once West Ham decide to release the proverbial handbrake they had a good chance of getting an equalizer. Around the 60th minute mark Moyes brings on Chicharito and there is a palpable uptick in the offensive pressure. For nearly two minutes the Arsenal defense is under sustained pressure. A shot on goal is fisted out by Ospina but the ball is recovered by the Hammers and is pinged to Arnautovic who drives home low and hard to the left of our Colombian.

Six minutes after the equalizer Wenger makes an offensive substitution, Aubameyang for Iwobi who did not have the best of games operating from the wide right midfield position. Arsenal’s attacking game begins to overwhelm West Ham’s valiant defending. 71st minute, Xhaka’s long range effort forces a save from Hart. 7 minutes later Danny’s fierce curling shot, from the left just outside the box, brings the best save of the game from the former England number one. At the 81st minute, Ramsey lets fly from a similar position, and between keeper and defender, they conspire to let the shot sail uncontested into the back of the net. Four minutes later, a neat build up play in the box (involving a series of short snappy passes that the English pundits love to criticize) results in Lacazette getting a good look in the whites of Hart eyes and he makes no mistake. To rub salt in the wound another repeat of those short passes and Ramsey assists Lacazette to his 2nd and Arsenal’s 4th.

How this win fits in the bigger picture

So in summary, Arsenal had to work very hard and be patient to eventually hand a clear defeat to a very spirited West Ham team. In the process the much reviled Arsene Wenger, who the Arsenal super-bloggers and podcasters are now happy to confess they are glad to see him gone, has led his team to a new record in the PL era, the most points at home in a season, 44 so far.  So despite not having the budget of City, Chelsea and United, who for 13 years have consistently and conspicuously outspent Arsenal and in the process recruited the best possible players available, Arsene was still able to put out a competitive team who, this season, for some reason was only able to excel at home.

Yet none of the critics, who constantly criticize and undermine Wenger, whether they are from the mainstream media or bloggers and podcasters, never ever mention how unfair the competition has been. Discounting United who can legitimately claim they generate their wealth from their commercial operations, both City and Chelsea have been allowed by the PL to flout financial fair-play by allowing their owners to use their non-football wealth (a Russian oligarch who captured his countries metal resources by unseemly means and a Gulf Emirate using their sovereign wealth fund) to spend infinitely on buying players and paying huge salaries. This is not only a danger to Arsenal but to all clubs in the PL; as we witness the increasing division of the league into a system of haves and have-nots with the title a realistic prospect for only 2 clubs year-in, year-out. City won this year’s title by early April. If Pep has his way with more money from the Emirs, he will win it again next year by mid-March.  As long as this spending disparity is allowed, Arsenal will find it hard to compete, whoever is the new manager.

Not only is the financial disparity a fundamental obstacle to a more competitive Arsenal, but none of the mainstream media or the bloggers and podcasters are willing to discuss the role of poor and biased officiating as a factor in Arsenal’s poor results on the road in particular. I have spent copious hours researching and publishing evidence of referee bias vs Arsenal particularly in Penalties-Against. Just last week, it was brought to public attention that it took nearly two seasons for Spurs, to have a penalty-against. In comparison, in 2016-17 season alone, Arsenal had 10 penalties against. Despite one prominent referee publishing a book describing his use of game-management to avoid making the tough calls and another ref disclosing publicly the use of hush money to keep referees quiet when they retire, none of the mainstream media, nor our bloggers and podcasters have given Wenger an ounce of support in his call for VAR to make the refereeing more transparent by using modern technology. The fact that the PGMOL could reject use of VAR for the next season without a voice of protest from the media tells you how useless most football journos are. To me they are very much in bed with the referees and the PL establishment and have no interest in changing the status-quo.

Thank heavens, the rotund, corpulent Lee Mason was not as terrible today as most PL referees have been this season. Apart from that phantom corner awarded to West Ham as well as letting Zabaletta off with merely a yellow card for stopping Welbeck’s arguably clear goal-scoring opportunity, he decided to referee a game of football rather than trying to manage the game in favor or against one team or the other. No thanks to our bloggers and podcasters who have done nothing to support Wenger in overcoming the resistance of the PGMOB to fair and transparent refereeing.

Yes, it was sweet to see West Ham get a beating but at the end of the day the bastards in the PL, the PGMOL and the media (mainstream and other-wise) won the battle vs Arsene and Arsenal Football Club. They have succeeded in keeping alive a dreadful system of unfair financial competition and of biased, incompetent refereeing. The bitterness of this defeat will not go away easily but hopefully we can turn turn it into an awful weapon for the club going forward.

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129 comments on “Arsenal vs West Ham: The Sweet Bitter Taste of Victory

  1. Amazing energy and stamina those scousers, maybe we need to copy their diet

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Markyb I think its usually referred to as cocktail, not diet

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Blue pill or Red pill?
    Reality or fantasy?
    Are the Scousers playing lanced?
    Or are they just superior athletes?
    They did drop off the last 10 minutes.
    It was one hell of a game though.

    about our game..
    I prefer to play against Diego Costa who’s a known quantity to our defenders.
    Holding did a great job against him in the FA cup final.
    Gameiro we know less about
    Torres…guess Kos & Mustafi will remember

    I just pray Mesut’s ok for the game.
    We need our maestro

    Liked by 2 people

  4. If you can wade through the muck armed with your lead suit and nose plug you will find rare articles away from this blog and all the generous souls we have sharing their thoughts with us on the football written by people that can also write unlike the footy hack dwarves and their snarky blogging hangers on and sychophants:

    “Nothing is the same as when Wenger arrived in 1996. We have a new stadium, which is as soulless as it is lucrative. A new club logo. A new board. A new fan base, full of over-expectancy and entitlement. 

The only thread to the past is Wenger himself. It hurts to have that thread cut but it’s also a relief. With him gone I can finally offer the last rites to the club I grew up supporting, and instead support this new entity that has sprung up in its place.”

    However you slice and dice it: what has happened is a nadir in the history of Arsenal Football Club. It will always and forever stain the reputation of the club.

    A shameful episode to file alongside the sacking of Robson by Newcastle, the classy Chelsea fans booing a Europa cup winning Benitez (for dropping Terry for having more cortisone in his legs then blood – he couldn’t run for several years but there was no pgMOB handicap in Europe).

    The inability of the back slapping blaggers and their little chorus to even acknowledge this simple lay of the land, the topography that can be surveyed when they stand in front of the looking glass: that is quite funny. They’re too busy congratulating themselves at this moment. These blaggers and Experts are celebrating the managers choice more then the recent cup victories.

    It’s hard to disagree with this author’s conclusion.


    Liked by 2 people

  5. I don’t take pleasure in seeing AOC injured. But this is how it goes with Klopp. The price for that tempo is injuries and lots of them, and it gets worse year on year.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Might be the same knee which had the ligament injury? Had the impression that it took him a season to rebuild his technique after his recovery, and even then the constant niggles meant he never managed to get a decent run together.

    One thing’s for sure: he can’t tackle cleanly/properly (it’s how he picked up the original injury) and he should not be encouraged to go to ground that often.

    Bad coaching innit. Ha. Ha. Ha.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It’s my birthday today and all I want is for Mesut to be fit to play tomorrow.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I’m starving and I’ve given Sergei the day off.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Happy birthday boss – may your cake have many, many candles

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I enjoyed the Anfield game last night although it was mostly lambs to the slaughter up to 5-0. Just shows the value of sticking in the game and playing for the full 95 minutes. I’d guess the tie is a long way from done. What a good player Dzeko is now. An early goal in Rome and it will be panic stations.

    Bad luck for the Ox and it immediately looked nasty and serious. One thought struck me last night as LFC romped to what seemed (up to the 75th minute) a crushing victory and that was “Klopp to the Bernabeu” in the Summer ?

    Liked by 2 people

  11. anicoll

    You any wiser than me as to what exactly allows them to destroy a pretty good Roma team like that?

    At one point, later on I think, when well ahead, showed stats and possession was even, both teams passing accuracy about 75% mark. So what did Pool do so well, or what did Roma do so wrong?

    High line obviously looked a calamity, and it felt like it was a bad idea and almost ridiculously dangerous for Roma to lose the ball anywhere, other than far into Liverpool’s half out wide maybe.

    All just manic and presumably well drilled pressing, quick forward passes and a deadly front three?

    Whatever, as long as they are like that at Anfield I think any team needs to shelve their normal tactics for the day: defend deep, concentrate furiously and always be thinking first of safety in possession ahead of anything else.

    Problem is that sounds like Mourinho stuff, but as a one-off i think it’s justified. I’m thinking ahead already to our next visit and how much I could do without seeing it go the way it did this year, last and that awful one a few years back. Think it’s been 5,3,2,3,4 on our last visits.

    Klopp to Real would do nicely, same as either Firmino or Salah buggering off, but I think there’s at least another year for them all yet.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Happy Birthday George, and thanks again for the site.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Late to the reading but enjoyed it no less. Well done shotta…

    Happy birthday PG and i echo the thanks for this Blog…

    Liked by 1 person

  14. These guys

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Salah performed Messi-like destruction of Roma in the first half Rich. One of those evenings when a player is unplayable. Firminio was almost as good. Both were quick, direct and desperate to hit the target if they got a mere glimpse of the goal. Mane on the other hand was in headless chicken mode.

    Roma’s 2nd half defensive performance was a bit of a shambles ( and trust me I know a shambles when I see one). But they went to a four, Liverpool tired and hey presto – 2 late goals and it could/should have been 3.

    Bloody terrible penalty btw – German referees eh ?

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Many Happy returns Mr George
    Banned cake with candles and party hats, streamers and balloons emojis.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. It was quite funny to see how little miracle cure cb Manolas was able to do to stop the tide.

    Also interesting that their three centre midfielders, who all have great pedigree and a lot of defensive attributes between them, couldn’t do jack shit to protect the defence.

    Don’t think it makes any of them bad players. Just another cautionary tale, for me anyway, of the complexity of the game.

    I was very late to recognising one defensive-minded or defensive midfielder proper may have little effect in improving protection of defence, now I see the proof everywhere… but three!

    Think bigger point is that the game is now ridiculously fast at times and, not unconnected to that, home advantage may have increased by a few percent.

    To such an extent a few teams are posing the very direct question of : if you try play good football through pitch, good chance we’ll eat you alive; if you sit, it doesn’t play into our hands as much, but we are still likely to come out on top of that. What’ll it be?

    Liked by 1 person

  18. anicoll

    I’m with you I think. Key to it was Salah, who has hit a level which makes other, very good players look distinctly human and fallible. Firmino has also become a monster player.

    Salah is a mystery. I saw highlights right from his time in Fiorentina which showed he was highly talented, but his past record and the price tag he went for did not suggest this leap.

    I thought he could actually struggle here because so many of his goals for Roma seemed to be on longish dribbles or when played in behind a defence into space. thought he’d get less chance to do that.

    Not sure there’s any lesson in it, other than Jose being a tit

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Scousers may say this is just bitter, jealous whinging by a gooner but it is a historical fact that Herr Klopp’s team usually run out of steam by May either by being overworked or via injuries playing that intense physical game.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Last night the Scousers, like Klopp’s Dortmund, was electric up to the 75th minute. Then he did the right thing by subbing his stars; Salah then Mane. But by then they were blowing and Roma got back in. They could have easily scored a 3rd, don’t you think?

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Happy Birthday PG and thanks for this great site.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Yeah, third looked distinct possibility. Difference in last part of game was immense.

    Furthered my belief if you can hang in any way possible against those tactics a good opportunity to win game should arrive late on.

    De rossi couldn’t do anything to stop it on pitch but sounds like he understood it pretty well

    ‘They constantly went for the long ball, from any area of the pitch, and it’s difficult to cover that space when there are players who are always faster than you.
    ‘We got the feeling they were going over the midfield completely, so we couldn’t intercept the ball.’
    Here we started strong, but then suffered under their pace and the ferocity of their attacks. We have to learn those lessons for the second leg.
    ‘We felt at the Nou Camp that we were really in it and could certainly break them down. Here, we had a total black-out. ‘

    Liked by 3 people

  23. I wouldn’t imagine anyone could be critical of that call for the pen, even Robbie Fowler accepted it as a fair call on the wireless following ten minutes of moaning at the call, and a few replays.

    It’s not like Milner was standing adjacent the player striking the ball.

    There was enough distance (you can call that data if you like) between the defender and the player striking the ball o make any critique of the refs decision unreasonable.

    As opposed to a ref making an unreasonable call where they can be observed to be:

    A) lying about where they imagined the defenders arm to be

    B) where the defender was so close to the ball being struck that anything other then a two handed volleyball fist bump would’ve made a pen call a more then harsh call – and that would be a fair and reasonable criticism if it happened so. I wouldn’t imagine anyone who has ever played footy in the back garden would think otherwise.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. <for those of you who can't remember Vidic once made a high one handed entirely deliberate volleyball clearance of a ball about 8ft in th six yard area after the ball had travelled thirty or fourth yards clearlyibservable through the air.

    No pen. For the Arsenal.Howard Webb that credible man heh was the official representing Mike Riley that day.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. On the pen: my expectation is that around Europe and especially with better refs they fairly consistently give pens if arm is away from side of body and ball has travelled a fair distance.

    Even with that, last night’s was definitely, though not outrageously, harsh. Main thing is to consistently stick to that idea- arm away from side of body, and enough distance to move it.

    Last night’s was very harsh, actually, as arm wasn’t out much at all, though if he moved it outwards as ball travelled that’s another good reason for a pen, and I think he might have.

    Domestically, we have absolutely no consistency on that, and in our games in just the last five years about ten have been ignored which clearly meet the criteria, with arms above the head on deep crosses at least a couple of times.

    Arms above head on shots. Rashford clearly extending his arm outwards to block a shot on the line. Bruce Junior making a good save against Hull. The long haired Hull then Burnley player flapping away a touchline cross in a home game we drew 2:2 after a big push in back of Flamini led to a goal.

    Then we got had in the last minute by Mr Dean on one that clearly didn’t match the basic criteria, which is pretty unlucky for us.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Fins, I sure do remember the Vidic one. Got a feeling it was 0-0 at time.

    Highly implausible that the officials could genuinely miss it. Near top in list of piss-taking decisions against us.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Livermore had a really good one in the Hull cup final as well. Near post from a cross that had travelled quite a way, scooped to safety.

    We’ve had the lot, apart from a diving catch, but there’s always next year.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Rich if the ball’s travelled far enough to give a chance to the defender to move his hand out the way then I couldn’t complain if the call was given. Did Milner have a chance, possibly not but even the honestly biased Fowler came round to accepting that it was not an unfair call (took him a few minutes haha!).

    It’s why so many pros put their hands behind their backs when facing up to an attacker in the box. They accept that the call might be given even if you haven’t moved your arm if there’s enough distance to allow the ref to even consider a penalty call.

    If such measures and parameters are good enough for the players who play the game for a living then they’re good enough for me.
    A shame they ain’t good enough for the pgMOB, but then we do know that their game has Sweet FA to do with the Football.


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