Tag Archives: West Ham

Match Report: Arsenal 3 – 1 West Ham

Arsenal (1) 3 West Ham United (1) 1

Premier League

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

Attendance: 59,830

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.

Steve

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.

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Unai Emery to ring in the changes

Two games into the season, playing against 2018/19 champions Manchester City and away to Chelsea. Arsenal are on zero points. But there is no need to press a panic button

Arsenal have beaten Manchester City just once one 7 games – that FA Cup Semi-final, and not beaten Chelsea at Stamford Bridge since 2011 – when Robin van Persie scored a hat trick.

Last year we got 1 point from the two games in a torrid draw against Chelsea.

There are positives to be had. Whilst we did not get the result against Chelsea, it is the best I have seen us play at Stamford Bridge for 7 years.

Moving forward, things are hopefully about to get a lot easier for Arsenal.

We start today with a home game against West Ham, the start of a run of 8 games which you would be disappointed if Arsenal did not get at least 18 points out of. 5 wins and a draw.

West Ham will be the 2nd game of the season I have already missed.

The club messed up my away scheme which meant they did not buy a Chelsea ticket on my behalf, and I am with family over this Bank Holiday weekend so unable to go West Ham.

Luckily for me going down The Arsenal is not a job, but something I choose to do, so I do not need to rely on going to every game just to earn a modest income. I have the Monday – Friday grind for that.

That panic button is certainly not ready to be pressed, but it might be time for Emery to ring in a couple of changes.

The first is formation.

During the first half of pre-season, Emery seemed to favour 4312 with 2 up top.

With players returning from World Cup duty, and perhaps under pressure to try and put Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan into the same team, we started the season 4321, leaving Alexandre Lacazette on the bench.

It might be worthwhile for Emery to revisit the formation he favoured during pre-season.

Lacazette and Aubameyang. A dual threat.

Some will say that they can not play together, but both are smart players who enjoy each others company. Lacazette has a tendency to drift to the right during games, Aubameyang the left. So whilst the would both be down the middle, they would not be getting in eachothers way.

Thinking out loud, they could become the new Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole.

The problem with playing the two upfront is then we sacrifice any sort of width we had from playing Mkhitaryan, Ozil and Alex Iwobi (or Aaron Ramsey). We would ultimately play one number 10. A shoot out between Mkhitaryan and Ozil.

This would mean that we are once more relying on our full backs to provide the width.

Nacho Monreal is the only option on the left, but it is perhaps time for Stephan Lichsteiner to come in at right back.

This is not a slight on Hector Bellerin. He has not been as poor as some are making out.

On another day against Chelsea, if the finishing was better, he would’ve come away from the game with a hat trick of assists. Instead he was horribly exposed towards the end, with Chelsea’s winner coming from his flank.

The problem is under Emery’s system he does not have the cover of a winger. He is expected to defend and attack, and it is draining.

Mauricio Pochettino up the road uses his full backs in a similar way, but he rotated them almost every game.

If Emery is to ask his full backs to bet up and down the wing every game, he is going to have to expect them to run out of gas.

In Lichsteiner Arsenal have an experienced, dependable right back who needs to be rotated in and out with Bellerin to ensure that both men do not tire too quickly.

It actually would have been a smart move to sub Bellerin off for Lichsteiner on 70 minutes against Chelsea, such was how tired he looked.

The same scenario is on the left. Once Sead Kolasinac is back I would expect him to share the duties at full back with Monreal.

That leaves the middle of the park.

By playing a central 3, it will give the defence a lot of cover, and also ensure we have men who can drop out wide when the full backs have bombed forward.

You see Manchester City do this a lot when Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy have bombed on; Fernadinho sits between the centre backs ensuring defensive stability.

Lucas Torreira needs to start alongside Matteo Guendouzi.

I think as the weeks role on, we will see Granit Xhaka come in for Guendouzi, but the moment the Frenchman certainly deserves his place in the team on merit. 

So do we got for Aaron Ramsey or Granit Xhaka?

My preference is the Welshman.

As we are at home, Ramsey is more attacking than his Swiss team mate. With a 3 man forward line rather than a 4 man, we need one of the midfield 3 to be able to break forward and support. Ramsey is the best player in the squad for that.

Cech

Lichsteiner Mustafi Sokratis Nacho

Ramsey Torreira Guendouzi

Mkhitaryan

Lacazette Aubameyang

*since writing this blog Ozil has called in “sick”

Keenos

Arsenal spend right rather than big

As the transfer window trundles to a close today prior to the Premier League opener tomorrow, I thought I would share some thoughts on the market, and how Arsenal have performed.

My thought can be summed up in the statement it is not what you spend, but who you buy.

Fans can often become obsessed with the value of the player, rather than the ability of the player. Thinking that the more expensive the player, the better he must be. But with brilliant recruitment you can sign top class players at the fraction of what other clubs are spending.

It is dangerous to look at what other clubs have spent over what they have actually signed.

This summer West Ham, Everton, Fulham and Leicester City have all outspent Arsenal (at the time of writing – Wednesday lunchtime), and some people might use that fact to attack the club. But look at what the actually signed.

Everton spent £42million on Richarlison from Watford. He hasn’t scored since November, and no assists since December.

West Ham also went big on an attacking Brazilian, spending £38million on Felipe Anderson. The former wonderkid has never really developed into a consistent performer and £38million is a lot of money for a man who was restricted to just 9 starts last season due to a serious knee injury.

Leicester City signed James Maddison for £25m, Ricardo Pereira (who?) for £23million and Liverpools 9th choice goal keeper Danny Ward for £12.5million. Over £60million spent on Championship players.

Also buying Championship players are Fulham who have spent £37million on Aleksandar Mitrovic and Alfie Mawson – two players who have previously been found wanting in the Premier League.

Now lets shut our eyes and imagine Arsenal bought the 7 players mentioned in this blog. Nearly £180million spent. Would you say it is good business? No. It would be big money wasted.

Arsenal spent just £67million on Stephan Lichtsteiner, Bernd Leno, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Lucas Torreira & Mattéo Guendouzi.

What would be the better business? £67million on what Arsenal got, or the £180million on a bunch of tripe?

Perhaps what sums up what I am saying is 4 players signed by Arsenal and Chelsea. Two a piece.

Lucas Torreira + Bernd Leno =  £42million

Jorginho + Kepa Arrizabalaga = £130million

Now I am now saying Chelsea have made poor signings. Joringho is a very good central midfielder and Kepa a top young keeper. But are they much better than Torreira and Leno? Are they even actually any better?

Torreira and Jorginho both played in Italy last season, slightly different styles of play. They both bring a lot of ability to the middle of the park. For me, they are both equally as good as what they do. Torrieira defending, Jorginho keeping the ball moving.

As for the goal keepers, Arsenal are getting an experienced German keeper who is on the fringes of the national team, Chelsea a less experienced Spanish keeper who is on the fringes of the national team.

The uneducated amongst us will point to Chelsea and say “they have spent £130million, they have shown ambition” whilst criticising Arsenal for “going cheap”. But the reality is the quality of the players being bought in is not much different.

Arsenal have not gone cheap, they have bought the right players at a good price. Meanwhile Chelsea have probably over paid for what they have bought in.

I have always been a student of Soccernomics where you do not focus on what has been spent, but what has been bought in, and what Arsenal have bought in is plenty to be happy about.

Keenos