Happy Festivius Gooners, in a week when Arsenal faltered again in a match against a title rival – albeit this fixture was also a battle with appalling weather conditions and an another diabolical refereeing performance too – a game two days later away to Sam Allardyce’s struggling West Ham side could’ve been a real banana skin match…and for a while, it was really looking that way…
Watching the game with my two young Gooner nephews, we were all gobsmacked by Arsenal’s utter domination of their hosts, the scale of domination only matched by the scale of offensive ineptitude that Arsenal demonstrated.
“Look at that, 84% possession!” exclaimed Ryan during the first half.
“There’s no point having the ball unless you can make use of it near goal…” was my reply, “…because all West Ham need to do is hit the ball upfield and Carlton Cole will just slap one in past the ‘keeper.”
How right I was, eh?!
West Ham came out of the traps in the second half and Cole, of course, slapped one in. And Arsenal’s reaction? Well, unimpressive in my eyes until Lukas Podolski appeared after a long injury lay-off.
With that, Arsenal looked revitalised. Balls into the box caused more havoc, when before Arsenal merely looked for cute, and ultimately inoffensive passes around the West Ham area. A moment of Theo Walcott magic, complete with a festive nutmeg and goalie flap lead to a well-taken equaliser. Moments later, a Podolski cross from the left found the on-rushing Walcott and his header again went through the ‘keeper’s chocolate wrists. To top it all off, like a bright crimson glace cherry on an especially boozy Christmas pudding, Podolski’s long range effort fizzed into the goal with venom and completed a come back that was looking increasingly unlikely with Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud barely staying awake due to their sheer tiredness. Giroud again showed just why it would be folly to rely on him as Arsenal’s sole striker, as chance after chance went begging.
5 Points I took from the game:
1) Santi Cazorla looked a bit more like his old self and had a few range-finding efforts on goal…at last! Just as well too, as Mesut Özil looks shattered too.
2) Ramsey must be rested next game. He looked very tired out there and really didn’t seem in the game at all.
3) A new striker next month is an absolute must. Giroud is back in a lean spell and whilst Walcott and Podolski have hit the ground running upon thier returns, Giroud looks spent. But who could come in?
4) Beating a Sam Allardyce led side always feels great. I will never get bored of watching his face as he realises his bland, ‘safe’, one dimensional football has resulted in another loss and he faces a real relegation battle now.
5) Newcastle are hitting form…just as a game against Arsenal looms large…and three points, as Arsenal go back up to first place following Liverpool’s loss against an increasingly formidible Manchester City side.
Thanks for reading,