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Resilient Gunners Break The Irons

Gunners celebrate Lacazette’s goal.

#ARSWHU: We are at that juncture in the season where results matter more than performance and that would be the perfect way to describe Arsenal’s victory over the Hammers this Saturday. For there was hardly anything worthy to write home about in terms of performance, but the importance of those 3 points cannot be described in simple words.

With games like Manchester City and Liverpool looming and Gunners already behind in the race for Top 5, these home games are “must-win” affairs for the London club to have any kind of chance of regaining the lost prize of Europe that they used to enjoy so often in the past.

When Arteta took over, Champions League seemed a distant thought but with fellow rivals faltering and City getting the ban, the impossible has become possible. This is not only surprising but also shocking considering that Gunners have broken all their worst-season records.

Last hope for Champions League

After our Europa League exit, this is Arsenal’s last hope to be among the European elite class. That is why one could feel the relief and satisfaction of a cup win when VAR decided to over-rule the linesman’s offside decision after Lacazette finished the chance presented to him on a plate by Mesut Ozil’s head.

For once, VAR did something good for us Gooners but why they took more than 3 minutes to decide a simple offside decision is a mystery that I will never be able to solve.

It was a proper smash and grab. West Ham should feel  hard done by as they were the ones who looked more threatening and more likely to score even though they only managed 30% of possession. They were more decisive than an Arsenal team who simply lacked cohesion for long periods and were guilty of selfish and slow tempo.

But West Ham, whose manager has never won an away game against Arsenal, had only themselves to blame as Antonio should have won the game for them. Early in the first half he was unable to square the ball into Haller’s path who would only have had keeper to beat from 5 yards out. It was a big let off after the Gunners high line was exposed wide open.  Otherwise the defence looked rather comfortable with the new addition Pablo Mari enjoying decent debut. The Hammers had struck the bar earlier in the opening 5 mins. They were again offered another glorious opportunity but only for Antonio to once again falter in front of goal.

On other hand, Arsenal did little of note. Their only chance came to the way of Sokratis who only managed to direct his header off the bar.

Aubameyang was hardly noticeable on the pitch.

Tempo and possession

Pepe continued his selfish heroics from the Olympiakos game doing more damage than good to Arsenal’s structure rather than West Ham’s. He is quickly becoming a headache. He is probably our best dribbler but his poor decision making on ball is killing our tempo and possession too much for the liking. This is obviously part of the reason why our front line looked so much out of sync and struggled to create, even though players like Ozil and Ceballos were having a great game.

Ceballos was perhaps the best outfield player on the pitch. He not only completed the most passes but had most interceptions and ball recoveries as well. And it was he who helped Gunners shift to another gear in second half.

That second stanza, Arsenal started exerting better pressure and forced West Ham to drop deep. Had it not been for former Gooner, Lukascz Fabianski, we should have reaped the rewards Nketiah was denied by the Poleafter some impressive play by Saka.

But despite their domination, Arsenal still needed Leno to keep them in the game. He did so by keeping none other than Antonio out, after a cross from left came superbly in his path. In many ways, Leno was the match winner as time and time again he showed good command of the box and dealt with everything that was thrown at him. When Arsenal finally took the lead, he once again was found to be an impeccable wall when he stood tall to Haller’s effort from 5 yards out.

Remarkable improvements

With game closing to an end, West Ham kept pushing players up while Arteta decided to swap another defender for the impressive Ozil, who got a standing ovation from the crowd. This ensured a nervous ending to the game but the joy and relief was clear to see when referee Martin Atkinson decided to blow the whistle.

It was a perfect “1-0 to the Arsenal” who are now unbeaten in 8 league games, which is the longest current run in the championship. In doing so the Gunners kept another clean sheet. These are remarkable improvements under the stewardship of Mikel Arteta. But as the Gunners move 3 points off Top-5, even he knows that his real test starts now and it’s our last 10 games that will decide the fate of not only this season but the medium-to-long term future of the club.

Arsenal need one of their famous late season runs to finish in the Champions League spot and next up is a visit to Arteta’s former employer and playing against the master, Pep Guardiola. Can we truly say hope rekindled?

3 Comments

  1. It’s interesting to note that those incapable of criticising the fraud who spent a club record fee on Pepe (where Arsene & Sven signed off on Auba now our record quickest scoring forward in the history of the club) are already criticising Arteta for the drop off in control in the midfield after Torreira was kicked off the park.

    Same people that reported the ozil and Ramsey can’t play together rubbish.

    Staggering to think how many of these people know sweet fa about the football.

    Meanwhile Arteta sets three clean sheets in a row showing how much he has improved the same players in defence (now he can begin to switch to the attack!) but these CLOWN BLAGGERs ignore it.

    Just like these CLOWN BLAGGERs are IGNORING that OZIL & XHAKA are the next two names on the team sheet after Auba and Leno. Fuck me how can anyone spend so much of their time on the football when they know fuck all about the football? When they are working for Football Agents! Obviously. Or the betting industry.

    No one has that much free time! Podcasts after a game longer then the game? Really? Let’s not be kidding ourselves. Please.

    Reply
    • “Podcasts after a game longer then the game? Really?” I nearly spit out my coffee on the keyboard on reading that. Nail on the head. No more comment necessary.

      Reply
    • Omair JavedMarch 9, 2020 at 8:29 pm

      You are absolutely right about those people. They are clueless who just go with the flow. The bottom line that they are not accounting for the midfield talent we have let go for free.

      I mean just combine the season average numbers of Santi Cazorla, Ramsey, Mkhitaryan, Iwobi, Wilshere and co in terms of goals, assists and chances created and compare those numbers with our current midfield’s season average and you will get your answer why Arsenal has struggled so much this season when it comes to creating chances. Now, Ozil is your sole creator in midfield. Even in his prime he was never sole creator under Arsene Wenger. There was always someone supporting him from either wings or deep midfield.

      This shows you the damage Emery and Raul’s transfer policy has made on this squad. We have replaced Ramsey with average replacement at best in Ceballos and expect our midfield to do better somehow. I mean how much idiot you have to be to not able to grasp this simple math?

      This is why I say, to sign a CM who is technically strong on ball and creatively effective in final third is very important for Arsenal. Right now, we have no midfielder who can travel into opposition box with ball. Our midfield is static and easy to defend against.

      Reply

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