West ham 0-0 Arsenal
It really seems we’re in the Twilight Zone.
Wasn’t this akin to the Southampton performance?
Or the United one to some extent?
More “pass, pass, pass”, and not enough “shoot, shoot, shoot”, and “score, score, score”.
The overview here is very like recent games, however:
- Our clear-cut chances were limited. Wilshere, Bellerin, Iwobi, Xhaka, Ozil, and Alexis, all had pot-shots in both halves that were not powerful enough to cause Adrian any difficulties.
- The West Ham goal was offside, though the defending from it was poor nonetheless.
- We controlled possession in both halves, though as usual without any real end product.
- West Ham had a golden chance to score through Chicharito, though the bar saved us.
- Despite defending well overall, Kos and Monreal nearly gifted Hernandez and Arnoutavic two goals in the second half.
This performance was very similar to Soton, in that West Ham counter-attacked, got men behind the ball, and permitted us to hold large amounts of possession. However, despite their game plan, we could have won this game via intelligence, guile, and pace in the final third. Naturally, given the score line, this was apparently lacking.
As afore cited, the Twilight Zone…..
The possession stats were greatly in our favour. Though as per usual, we did not capitalise on that.
Why is this so? Who knows?
Our game plan was to play the ball narrow, which West Ham could easily counter via a packed defence. Their counter-attacking worked somewhat, but then not enough in my mind to trouble us terribly.
Nonetheless, this mode of attack is way too easy to defend against. This seems odd to cite, but then this is how we used to attack in the time of Rosicky, Podolski, etc. It got worked out then, and is similarly being sussed out now. I genuinely believe that with more guile, we would have won that game, and pretty handsomely to boot.
Clearly this is an instruction by Wenger, since it seems like a recurring pattern. My views on the manager are well-cited here, though I do not subscribe to abusing him. Nonetheless, he is an intelligent man. Why does he not see, or choose not to see maybe, that our attacking play does not work? It’s futile, and makes us simple to clock tactically.
A well-martialled defence can block any telling pass that comes through, even if it’s from the likes of Ozil or Sanchez. Moreover, West Ham had players of pace, who could counter well. Our defenders/mids are not slow necessarily, but then we should not even give them opportunities to counter.
Currently, we are in sixth, and that lot are ahead of us again for the moment.
However, we need to take some serious stock of our tactics. I believe our essential issues are tactical and mental, as they have been for years now. And with those corrections, we would be up there with City. Yes, one can laugh at that. Frankly, I do not care if one does. But our styles of play are similar. We both seek to dominate possession, and are highly technical teams. City though are far more ruthless in finishing. We are not. If we had their degree of ruthlessness, I would be sure we’d at least be second now.
As for the players, Alexis for me stepped up. He looked more energised and up for making chances. Ozil was quieter than in recent games, though Xhaka and Wilshere held up the midfield well. Giroud did OK for the most part, and could possibly have converted his chances better.
Cech was fine throughout, whilst Kos, Monreal, Maitland-Niles, and Bellerin, largely dealt with what West Ham conjured.
Our issue here, in my view, is that we critically lack width. Out and out wingers are not standard in 2017 football. Not like in the 1990s, or early 2000s at least. Overmars, Giggs, Anderton (he played for that lot if you don’t know who he was…), Ginola, etc. are from a bygone era of the Premier League. However, we could have used an Overmars tonight. West Ham would have been undone by pace in behind, and the narrow sideways-shuffle football only bolstered their game plan.
I must say also that Bellerin, whilst relatively sure defensively, did not provide this telling pace. Which is a shame, given his initial emergence in our team a few seasons ago. His 15/16 form exemplified his speed and rapidity, which has seemingly been lost for now.
This review is pretty morose, but then I know we could and should have won today. Despite West Ham’s recent resurgence, we had better players in virtually all positions. And with some attacking verve and intelligence, we would have won this fairly comfortable. West Ham did hold their own somewhat, but when we have 70% possession then we didn’t use the ball efficiently enough, or West Ham didn’t allow us to. I strongly believe the former option is true here, and not the latter.
Our game here was exactly like at Soton. We caused our own downfall here, in innumerate ways in both games.
Oh well, on to the Toon this weekend. I possibly may have some live photos, as I hope to attend. If Mike Ashley is indeed selling his share, let’s contribute to making his potential end-time there as bad as possible.
Cech 7, Kos 7, Maitland-Niles 8. Monreal 6, Bellerin 7. Xhaka 6, Wilshere 7, Ozil 6, Alexis 7, Giroud 7, Lacazette 5, Welbeck 5.
Man of the match
After some horrid performances lately, he typified why there’s “ain’t nobody” like Koscielny. He dealt with West Ham’s attacks well, and was physically able to handle their attackers.