West Ham 1 – 3 Arsenal: Three Priceless Points for Fab Freddie
As a passionate fan it is hard to analyse the game straight after it has finished, so further analysis will follow by me or a fellow BKer in the next few days. We need to understand in full why and how things turned round for us in the second half and whether this can be contributed to Freddie’s team-talk/tactical changes at the break. There really never was a better example of a game of two halves: the first one was pretty dire and the second one was pretty impressive.
Here are some initial observations of a well-deserved and much needed win:
- Freddie was of course a winger/midfielder during his player days and his biggest contribution until now is getting some confidence back into our wingers. Martinelli and Pepe both had sublime second halves with a goal each (and involvement in all goals). Now I am calling Martinelli a winger because that is what he was asked to do today, but he really is an all-round attacker with great runs and presence in the box. Both players announced themselves today and are my Men of the Match!
- Ozil was much less isolated in the second half and so he could start his passing game and make things happen. He had pre-assists in our second and third goal, with quick and well-placed passes from the ‘hole’ area. Mesut is not back to his old self yet, and he may not get back to that level again, but today he was very good again at controlling our game and using the available space.
- Torreira and Xhaka are becoming a partnership again. Both players had their confidence undermined by the previous manager – in different ways – and it is taking them time to get it back and to click as a partnership. Both had a couple of poor, rusty moments, but it would be silly to focus on those too long. Xhaka and Torreira were key to our revival in the second half: they moved the ball quicker forward and dared to take on opportunistic passes, something the whole team struggled with during the first half. They both gave much more protection to our defence in this game than we are used to and they helped a lot in bringing Ozil into the game. It is now important to keep the midfield of Xhaka-Torreira-Ozil playing regularly.
- We allowed the Hammers – who, it must be said, were poor today – ‘only’ 11 shots of which four were on target. Arsenal had 10 shots with three on target (and against the inside of the net), and that is a massive improvement. As our opponents weren’t that great on the day it is hard to say whether this is something to celebrate or not, but it is definitely something to build on.
- Our full backs – both the nr.2 in their positions for today’s match, as Bellerin did not start and Tierney had to come off quite early in the game – had mature and well-balanced games. Kola had a great assist for the all important first goal with a well-spotted, measured and low to the ground pass and he also gave good defensive cover. AMN worked well with Pepe and had a pretty good game. Does the BFG have something to do with this?
- I thought we defended much better today and credit should go to both Chamber and Sok. Both are limited on the ball, especially when we try to play from the back forwards, but they are purist defenders and were strong aerially and on the ground in the box. Again, does the BFG have something to do with this?
- Auba looked happier as the lone CF, especially in the second half when Ozil started to purr properly. His biggest strength is of course his incredible chance-conversion, but I also rated him for the way he allowed both Pepe and Martinelli to be at their very best in such an unassuming way. Top guy.
- Freddie, well done my man. You changed it round in the second half and your post-game interview was very professional with typical Swedish enthusiasm and humility. You have got something to build on – a shame the Citeh game is next in the PL, but we just need to see another strong team performance (and this time for 90 minutes) and the result is less important.