Match Reaction: West Ham 2-2 Arsenal
By Karl M. Tinsley
Sorry this is so late…
MY 3 STARS
1. ROBIN VAN PERSIE: Had himself a decent match especially in the first half when he was productive early and often. Had a nice flicked header off that spooned ball into West Ham’s 18 yard box from Song…nearly picked out Andriy at the back post. Had a nice pacy run early on down the left flank which he finished with a nice quick heavy shot that put the West Ham ‘keeper Green on his back foot.
Later on Robin was robbed by the non-call for the obvious hand ball by Upson inside the 18 yard box. A portent of things to come by this referee. Showed a nice composed and alert finish on that snapping cross in from Sagna that Green flapped at and missed. Would have liked to seen more from him in the second half but the whole team basically packed up the plantation in the second half.
2. GAEL CLICHY: HUGE bounce back game for the Frenchman who was starting to be put under the microscope for some lackluster performances recently. Early in the first half he made a nice quick read to provide backside support to Vermaelen and snuff out the danger posed by Carlton Cole inside out 18 yard box. It was also nice to see Gael take the safe route early on (8:00 mins) and kick the ball long down the pitch when being put under heavy pressure…instead of trying to be cute and dribble his way out of danger for which he has gotten burned for goals several times in the last 2 seasons.
He was getting up his flank all match and putting pressure on the back 4 of West Ham and his crosses seemed to have a lot more purpose to them. Made a nice block on one of the West Ham F.K’s in the first half and did a good job of attacking and putting pressure on the West Ham attackers all match. Was happy to see the old Gael back with his hustle and tight defense.
3. WILLIAM GALLAS: Popped in a lovely header towards the end of the first half that demonstrated Willy “G’s” ability to go up strong and showed off his nose for goal with that powerful header off of Parker(?) and into the back of the net. Would like to see him be more assertive with his defensive headers in and around our box…but can’t fault him for either of the West Ham goals. Bottom line his goal ended up earning a draw so props to that William.
ALEXANDRE SONG: Up until his moment of insanity at 80 mins when he gifted Carlton Cole the opportunity to scam the referee…Song had played a great match in the holding midfielder role. Loved his early scooped ball that was perfectly weighted to Robin who just missed picking out Andriy with his flicked on header. Loved the strength and height of his leaps to head away danger on a couple of West Ham’s F.K.’s that they floated into our 18 yard box.
Song showed great hustle and increased confidence over the ball and with his quick distribution of the ball when we were in transition to offence. At the end of the day however he needs to be smarter with his defense and decision making inside our 18 yard box…with under 15 minutes left and our opponents looking to sell the dive. Why put yourself and the club in that kind of position by making silly contact with a player (Carlton Cole) whose back is to our net and moving away from goal??. Learn from it son and never do that again!!.
BACARY SAGNA: Like Gael Clichy, I felt Sagna had himself a nice bounce back game after some less than dominant performances in the previous weeks. He had a lovely attacking 1-2 passing movement with Diaby deep in the West Ham end and finished it off with a dipping and snapping cross that Green was unable to handle and which fell kindly to Van Persie for an easy goal. Sagna’s defence was solid if not spectacular…nothing much of danger came down the right flank as Eboue and Sagna combined to again choke off any type of threat posed by West Ham on our right flank.
CESC FABREGAS: Seriously…did he even play the first half??. Our favourite Spaniard was borderline invisible the entire first half save for the ball he played out to Sagna which ignited the 1-2 with Diaby and the cross over to Robin for the easiest of goals. On the days where his game is not reaching those high notes…we still need him to contribute to our attack in a more meaningful manner.
Don’t want to bash on the guy…but i’ve noticed Cesc dropping out of games or fighting with himself at times this season. Love to see him regain his steady composure and passing ability that was featured all of 3 weeks ago against Blackburn Rovers. Had a nice strike just wide of the top corner in the second half but it was a case of not enough from our captain.
ANDRIY ARSHAVIN: Like Cesc…his contribution in the first half was very very quiet…borderline minimal. However, he did show more involvement in the second half with his runs down the left flank and his willingness to get his stroke over. But by Andriy’s lofty standards…this was a disinterested performance from him. Hope he rediscovers his hunger for match winners against Tottenham on the weekend. We need his creativity and generosity to spark the squad.
It was a very brutal and disheartening draw to West Ham after we had dominated the first 65 mins and had amassed a 2-0 score line. IF we plan on winning any meaningful silverware this season…we need to learn how to properly defend set pieces and to show the ability to kill off matches. IMO…the AZ match in Holland and the West Ham match on Sunday were very disheartening…in particular the West Ham match because it brings back bad memories from the last 2-3 seasons when we have shown the lack of leadership, focus and maturity to lock up shop and secure maximum points after playing good football for 75-80 minutes.
There is ample share of blame to go around from the players to the manager and coaches. Now is not the time for finger pointing…just get it sorted out once and for all. On the bright side a win against Liverpool in the Carling Cup will give the club the chance to feel good about itself in the run-up to the Tottenham match this weekend.
As always I remain,
GUNS IN GUNS OUT