When Olivier Giroud is your youngest outfield player, you know something is wrong at Arsenal.
For a club who over recent years have been synonymous with bringing through youth players, it highlighted both Arsenal’s injury plight, and a slight change in policy within the club.
The average age of the starting 11 was 29, and that included 23 year old Szczesny in goal. Looking through the list of players and their ages, a point could be made that the team was filled with journeymen foreigners. And for much of the game, we played like that.
Whilst a 3-1 score line certainly did not flatter The Arsenal, it was hard fought and a game that man will forget in a hurry. It was a professional performance. A performance you would perhaps associate with a team of experience internationals.
The defence was solid. Whether by default or design, Thomas Vermaelen at left back ensured that Andy Carroll was not able to climb all over the full back as he so often does. The West Ham striker was blunted by the Belgium in his best performance in an Arsenal shirt this season.
Moving through the middle, Arteta was his usual competent self at home. He is certainly a player who enjoys the time and space he gets playing at the Emirates. Kallstrom busy and controlled in the middle, putting in an argument that we should perhaps make his move permanent.
Ahead of them, Cazorla was everywhere, dictating the game, picking up space, ensuring that West Ham’s thugs could get nowhere near, and Rosicky played with his normal directness.
It is the performances of Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski which is so interesting. After a poor start, Giroud suddenly burst into life, as if he remembered how he was playing at the beginning of the season. Bullying defenders. Showing a good touch. Taking on and running past opponents. And a brilliantly taken goal.
Podolski also showed how important he can be. Whilst he is not a central, loan striker, he is not a left winger. He needs to play further up the field, just wide of a central striker, either in a 442 or 433. In the box, he becomes interested, he is electric. And his 2 goals yesterday reminded us that he can be a game changer. Maybe his future lies as a super sub, Coming in to form a 2 man strike partnership?
Perhaps the biggest positive of last night is that Aaron Ramsey came on and showed no ill effects of playing 113 minutes at Wembley. He covered ground, and changed the game, bringing calmness and energy. He also bought the age of the team down considerably.
The thing now for Arsenal is we have players returning from injury. Ramsey is back. Oxlade Chamberlain is nearly there. Gnabry and Ozil are likely to be on the bench for Hull, with Wilshere returning for Newcastle. Add Flamini who is set to return from yet another suspension (he has missed 6 games this season through ill discipline) and things are starting to look a lot brighter for Arsenal.
Yes, it might be too little too late. But it should be enough to see us to 4th and lift The FA Cup.