Arsenal (1) 3 West Ham United (1) 1
Saturday, 25th August 2018
(4-2-3-1) Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Sokratis, Monreal; Guendouzi, Xhaka; Mkhitaryan, Ramsey, Iwobi; Aubemeyang.
Substitutes: Elneny, Lacazette, Torreira, Lichtsteiner, Holding, Welbeck, Leno.
Scorers: Monreal, Diap (O.G.), Welbeck
Referee: Graham Scott
You really can’t write this can you? Of our first three Premier League outings of the 2018-19 season, two have been derbies – this week we entertain Wes Dam, who despite all their Cock-er-nee bluster and bravado, have only been victorious on one occasion in the PL at The Emirates, back on the opening day of the 2015-16 season; a match not to be reminded of, and certainly one that should be placed firmly and deeply imto the dustbin of Premiership history.
A nigh-on full crowd at The Emirates saw the welcome return of Our Jack, albeit rather strangely attired in an opposition shirt; a peculiar sight these days as we are more used to seeing him in our familiar red and whites, of course. Also to be mentioned in dispatches today is our old friend Łukasz Fabiański, now employed as the man between the sticks for Wes Dam, as well as young Lucas Pérez who has found new horizons for his career in E20 too. Strangely missing from our line-up today was the much-maligned and enigmatic Mesut Özil, an absence due more to illness rather than injury or selection deletion apparently, despite scurrilous rumours to the contrary. As a byword, the two opposing managers today have met before on fields of glory, when they were opposing Misters in La Liga a few years ago.
On with the motley. As befitting a London derby, there was a crackle in the air and a stirring of the heart as the match got underway with both sides testing each other’s defences robustly. Despite a disallowed offside goal from Aaron Ramsey quite early on, our opponents severely tried and tested the Arsenal defence with some well executed “smash-and-grab” counter-attacking that ultimately led to a well-taken goal with some 25 minutes on the clock. Their felicitations didn’t last long, however; within five minutes the scores were level with a superb Nacho Monreal goal taken with some style when the ball found its way to him just outside the six-yard box. Just before the break, we were most fortunate not to concede a goal, and but for the agility and positioning of Petr Cech, we could have been in deficit.
Alexandre Lacazette replaced Alex Iwobi at the beginning of the second half, and almost immediately made a difference to the attack with several attempts over a ten minute period on the Wes Dam goal that led to nothing, unfortunately. It was after such an attack by the opposition that we took the lead for the first time in a match this season, albeit fortuitously. A seemingly simple loose ball in the Wes Dam six-yard box ended up in their goal courtesy of an error by Issa Diap on his debut for the E20 club. A few minutes later a large cheer came up from the home crowd when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was substituted for the popular striker Danny Welbeck. From now on until the end of the match, our chaps gradually took cotrol of proceedings. In injury time, Danny Welbeck received a pass, pirouetted and slotted the winner home with some aplomb, which elevated us to eleventh in the Premier League table. A great sigh of relief resounded around the stadium, as we finally chalked up our first win of the campaign after three very tough matches.
Make no mistake about it, there were some glaring (and on another day possibly fatal) errors by the defence throughout this match. Again, with the absence of protection from midfield, and with no Arsenal players taking reponsibility on the pitch for the third match in a row, we were fortunate indeed not to concede more goals than we actually did. Mr. Emery has all the answers now; our dromedarian defenders need to find their backbone before something truly awful occurs; whilst we know that our bandits will always score goals, and the midfield can supply this (even with the absence of the umlauted one) the defence must surely have the priority for any restructuring here. Aaron Ramsay was just superb today, as was Nacho Monreal, but up front, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang needs to regain his confidence quickly, as he is fading out of matches. It will happen. Remember everyone, keep the faith, get behind the team and the manager, as these early days are going to be crucial for our future success in all competitions. Stick with the winners. Victoria Concordia Crescit.
Too Dearly Loved To Be Forgotten: Arsenal v Racing Club de Paris 1930-1962 by Steve Ingless (Rangemore Publications, ISBN 978-1-5272-0135-4) is now available on Amazon.