Writing a match report from having listened to the game on the radio and then seen the highlights is not easy, but I am going to try it anyway. It was frustrating to listen to McNamara and Neil Lennon of Radio 5Live as they were clearly much more enthusiastic about WH’s goals than our goals, and also much more disappointed in the referee for decisions that went against the Hammers than against us. The Hammers were brilliant and Arsenal were just ‘ruthless’ according to them… But of course the biggest frustration was to listen to us conceding twice in quick succession just before the end of the first half, which especially ‘Mancunian’ McNamara enjoyed tremendously.
It is great that the team have found their shooting boots again and that Wenger’s plan to get goals from a variety of players is coming to fruition at the moment. Not being dependent on a 30 goal a season CF for our goals is a good thing and over the last three games we had goals from defence, midfield and attack: one from our CF (Welbeck) and eight from other players.
What is really impressive is that Iwobi is contributing both goals and assists like he is a 28 year old seasoned professional, in his first professional games for the club. For such a young lad he has great vision and composure and especially his first assist yesterday was one that Ozil, the beneficiary, would have been proud of. Iwobi , with the club since he was eight, is this season’s gift from our youth development scheme.
I loved the way Ozil took his goal: so composed and deadly, like a proper nr10. The second goal was also well worked with Iwobi having moved into the nr10 positioned once again; he put the ball over the defence and Alexis did well to control the ball and slot it past the goalkeeper with fine composure. Really good to see that our big stars delivered yesterday.
2-0 to the Arsenal and the game under control…but it is never that easy with our boys, is it?! In the space of nine footballing minutes – before and after the break – Carrol was allowed to score a hat-trick and make us fear the worst. He should already have been sent off for a nasty foul on Koscielny earlier in the game, and could have easily had a second yellow for a planned elbow in our French CB’s face in the second half, but he took his goals well and embarrassed our defenders in the process. I guess it was Wenger’s plan not to allow the Hammers too close to our box through the defensive qualities of the wall of ElCoqny and the Midwingers – Iwobi and Alexis – helping out the midfield, but it did not work on the day, as cross after cross was launched into the box to which Koz and Gabriel had no real answer. Should the BFG have played? Absolutely, as he reads these balls much better and organises our defence better as well. We all know that Per is not fast and also was guilty of some bad defending in his last few games, but the Koz-Gabriel partnership only works when we play a high line and have lots of possession in the opposition’s half; dealing with a traditional big fecker of a CF is not something that suits them, as we found out the hard way yesterday.
I am really glad we pulled one back through Koz and fought hard to get the fourth goal, and with that the three points we needed desperately to stay in touch with the Foxes and the dark side. We did not manage to do it but I am happy with many aspects of our game. We played some fine football, scored good goals, and the likes of Iwobi, Welbeck and Elneny are playing themselves into the first team with some impressive performances. The fact that we keep conceding far too many goals in these key encounters – Liverpool away, Spuds away, Manchester United away, and now the Hammers away especially – is something that needs sorting next season. As AB said recently, let’s spend big on a new CB this summer to finally get the balance right.
In the meantime, let’s focus on winning as many of our remaining games as possible and end the season well.