West Ham v Arsenal Thoughts

1. This is the second time in as many games that Arsenal extricated themselves from a sticky situation and got the win they needed. So is this the stuff of champions? Well, Arsenal definitely held their nerve and yesterday, even with 10 men, they were vastly better than West Ham. But, to get into the situations they did, against Hull and West Ham, suggest that this team is definitely capable of dropping points – so the games against Birmingham, Man City and Spurs should be interesting indeed.

2. Abu Diaby and Alex Song – give Arsenal an fantastic 4-2-3-1 option, with Diaby at times unplayable and Song impenetrable. Along with Fabregas, these 2 are Arsenal’s biggest gems who can go on to great things, if they keep improving.

3. A caution: West Ham yesterday gave a demonstration of the most tepid, incompetent and incoherrent football I have ever seen in the Premiership. They could not string 2 passes in succession, they were alternatively ponderous and wasteful in possession and played like a amateur side. Even when up a man, Arsenal ran rings around them! West Ham made Eboue look like Cristiano Ronaldo, they couldn’t get anywhere near Diaby and could rarely find their extra man at any point in the second half. They fumbled the ball under no pressure, made and endless stream of poor choices. If there was a player free on the far side, they made sure that they needed 6 passes to get the ball to him by which time Arsenal had snuffed out the danger!

4. Vermaelen’s sending off and the penalty was about as soft a pen as you can imagine. Franco went down at the faintest of contact from Vermaelen but the referee had almost as bad game as West Ham. To balance things, he also gave Arsenal a weak pen at the other end when Fabregas almost played the ball into Upson’s hand from a yard away.

5. I’ve always liked Zola’s style and in the past been very impressed by the positive and smooth play that West Ham have displayed on occasion. Sadly that side of West Ham lasted about 15 minutes in the first half and then morphed into something unrecognizable as premier-league football. Zola was recently quoted as saying “People think I’m weak because I’m nice” – on the back of this evidence, they’re right. They’re not likely to escape relegation on this form.

6. Diamanti missed a penalty. Or to be fair, Almunia saved it. You know it’s your day when you’re best deadball specialist fluffs a penalty.

7. Unless Vermaelen’s red card is rescinded, they will play Birmingham and Wolves without him and both will give Arsenal a sterner examination than Hull or West Ham could muster.

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