|15 Jan||3:00 PM||P||West Ham United (A)||3||0||Win|
Well that was much, much, times infinity more like it, wasn't it?
I have to say I wasn't half nervous leading upto this customarily tricky fixture at Upton Park, or the Boleyn Ground so as not to risk the double-wrath (double because of the heavy defeat dished out) of my fervent Hammer friend who is desperate for a mention on here, sorry Tim. There you go.
And I had every reason to be worried too. They say you're only as good as your last game, and frankly, and without going back into too much detail about it, we were absolutely diabolical. Just one more thing about that – I see the title of my last piece, had ruffled one or two feathers too many, which is fair enough. However, I make no apology for stating what I thought and for the harsh undertone of what I had to say. I called them a bunch of amateurs following the debacle on Wednesday night because they played like a bunch of amateurs, end of.
Which, not for the first time this season, and not for the last, I fear, just begs the question: why oh why can we not play like we did at West Ham EVERY match? You have times where we practically dispose teams at consummate ease: Birmingham, West Ham, and heck, even Chelsea. And then you have the slow, slumbering disasters against the likes of West Brom, Newcastle, Leeds and Ipswich. It simply flummoxes me!
Of course, I am not in any way naïve in thinking that we can simply turn up and run rings around the opposition every three days. Football doesn't work like that and teams are just too competitive for that. But what does test our patience, and believe you me, that low at Portman Road really was a new depth to delve into, is what Arsène Wenger hit the nail on the head with following last night's 3-0 win: the focus, the desire, the maturity. We still leave those key ingredients out of the odd game of football way too often for anyone's liking, way too often for a very good team apparently desperate to become a great team.
And that has simply got to stop sooner or later if we want to carry on this run of three successive Premier League clean sheets (blimey, I know), along with the swashbuckling football and subsequent plans to end our long title wait. It will certainly have to stop in time for Ipswich's return to the Emirates if we are to reach Wembley next month!
It is comfortably easy to see whether the players are up for it from the very first passes of a match. And when they are, you get what happened to West Ham, who had the ball a mere 30% of the time and had their goal peppered throughout ninety-four minutes of pass, pass, pass, and shoot (another shock of the day). And but for Rob Green's habitually impressive performance against an Arsenal side, to say it could've ended six or seven would have been no exaggeration.
Desire, focus, and maturity leading to good, silky football, as well full exploitation of what is a circus of absolute clowns over at the East End in the shape of Gold and Sullivan, undoubtedly helping matters. But you get my drift: cut the crap, and sort the mood swingometer out and we're fit to go!
The victory was not without its uncertain, hairy moments. First you had Johan Djourou's attempt to play Carlton Cole in on goal with the score still at 1-0 following van Persie's strong finish minutes earlier early on in the match, kept out brilliantly by young Wojciech Szczęsny, who I am tempted to say keep in the first team, by the way. As for big Johan, there have been signs over the last two matches that he is starting to get complacent following the rave reviews. I can only hope that it is but a minor blip!
Then you had moments after going 2-0 up thanks to the impressive Theo Walcott, and just before half-time, Djourou also involved in getting in the way of a near point-blank header missed by the home side, Cole the culprit again.
The second half was largely a more solid affair, a van Persie penalty rounding off things, with the midfield, ushered by the Captain, going about their business in supreme fashion.
I don't know how many times I have put in such a request at the end of an article, but more of the same please!
A good, comfortable win I'd say overall, albeit not without its dramas and minor difficulties. But then again, it wouldn't be the Arsenal way otherwise, would it?
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