Like their vague Premier League fate, Arsenal let slip of another set of compulsory points as West Ham shared the spoils at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.
Consolation will be Villa’s identical result at home to Wigan – implying that this stalemate kept matters static, but an advantage has been squandered. And popular knowledge is; rivals will always buckle, but you have to capitalize your own to make them pay.
Perhaps Wenger’s men will now have to roll up sleeves to bear the solitary battle for a Champions League spot as football betting sites would attest to.
A well exhausted hot-rod Robin van Persie needed a breather after all and started on the bench with Bendtner deputizing. So did Djourou also take a rest and the deficient centre-back pairing of Toure and Gallas was inevitable.
Just as some of the best online betting sites predicted, it was normal matters at the beginning – Arsenal cagey and their opponent absorptive. There always had to be a ‘come-close’ and that was Diaby’s header which was deflected onto the crossbar after three minutes.
To be fair, only another tame header from Bendtner some time later could join that initial effort in the category of forged chances. And a wearisome 45 minutes would be capped with two setbacks for Wenger’s selections next week. A stricken but not misfiring Eboue had to be replaced by Vela following Scott Parker’s challenge while Diaby’s aggressiveness again saw him penciled in the referee’s book for the fifth time this season – an automatic suspension for the next game.
Collins provided the visitor’s occasional opening on the stroke of half time with a glancing header which alerted Clichy to head off the line and was back at West Ham’s peak when he cleared away Toure’s dangerous follow-up after Green’s lame punch went back to an Arsenal man.
It was then the turn of Adebayor’s squandering. Sagna sent in a sharp low cross with Green off his line and Adebayor right on to latch, but he poked the ball with his left foot past the keeper and straight at the advertising boards. That had been how close Arsenal came, and in search of a game winner, Van Persie was called up from the bench with Bendtner sacrificed.
Then with 18 minutes left, Vela’s hanging cross was met by a free Adebayor, but faint power on the effort meant Green caught with ease.
Up till this point, Arsenal had given a lot but certainly not their all. Even so, West Ham could thwart them in every resurgence.
Diaby then suffered a pitiful strain, and had to be stretched off. That occurred at the end of normal time, but even four more minutes of added time saw Arsenal nullified.