Arsenal 3 – 1 West Ham Eight Observations: Maturity, Magic Martin and a Ben White Christmas

3-1 to the Arsenal, London is Red, and the Gunners are back on track!

Eight Observations

  1. We may have a young squad, look at our attacking line of Martinelli, Nketiah and Saka alone, but they all look so confident and mature when they come out of the dressing room. This alone tells you about the great work El Maestro has been doing with this squad.
  2. West Ham defended their double walled castle like medieval Constantinople in the first half. They would have five players to defend either Saka’s or Martinelli’s wing, have the impressive Rice marshall the midfield wall and allow us very little space. Then they had a few dangerous forays that had our defenders working hard to just about stem the danger. The Hammers were impressive.
  3. From one of those forays the Hammers got their lucky break. Saliba just about gave a pen away and, against the run of play, the Gunners were behind. But the team didn’t panic, didn’t start to rush things and just kept chipping away at the West Ham wall. Adversity is part of the game, just as much as luck is, and then a team (or indeed any individual) needs more than ever to fall back on their inner confidence and belief; and that’s what they did. Another sign of this team’s astonishing maturity.
  4. The Ode was once again the master of invention. No brute force from him. No, this Wicky the Viking uses his brains to find openings. We may have lost the first half but I can watch it again and again just for Martin’s masterclass.
  5. There was no need to panic, the spaces would surely come. The Hammers would get weary and tired, and then our big chances would come. We needed a bit more from Martinelli with his final balls into the box. He now has to show that he can thrive without his big brother, Jesus, next to him on the pitch, but other than that we needed more of the same.
  6. The second half was brilliant. Spaces opened up and the boys sacked the Hammers’ citadel to the ground. This was a masterclass of how to do this by Arsenal. Saka was once again super effective. Almost everything he does has purpose and therefore carries a threat and this is so rare for such a young talent. Okay, we needed a bit of fortune to get us in front. Or did we?! The Ode shot/through-pass to Saka was well intercepted by Bukayo and his finish was Henryesque cool. I believe the Ode meant the pass to Saka. He saw the gap but it needed to be a very fast ‘shot’-pass. He did something similar for Granit in the first half. Whatever it was, it got us in front, and the rest became easy.
  7. Martinelli scored a cheeky goal at the near post with the ball just bouncing over Fabianski’s outstretched right leg. And then Eddie produced his magic to roll his defender brilliantly and get a free shot on goal. There were more chances but 3-1 was a good final score to take us eight points above Citeh, who will face unpredictable Leeds tomorrow.
  8. The big question at the beginning was will Eddie make us forget GJ9. Well, I think JYNC summed it perfectly in the previous post: “I saw enough of Nketiah to know that even though he was a top scorer in all youth ranks for Arsenal and England…. he’s a totally different player now. No longer a fox in the box poacher…It’s all happened in the past 2 years under Arteta. The power, pace, strength, explosiveness. Has picked up some habits from Jesus too.If he hadn’t scored today, I would have been praising his gameplay anyway. He worked for his teammates.” special mention also for Ben White who was instrumental in making our right wing so deadly strong.

By TotalArsenal

49 thoughts on “Arsenal 3 – 1 West Ham Eight Observations: Maturity, Magic Martin and a Ben White Christmas

  • To pinch a headline from The Athletic, Like Arsene Wenger’s teams of old, this Arsenal are thrilling and deadly. Ode, Bukayo and Ben were outstanding. Thomas had a couple of misplaced passes but otherwise was purring like a well-oiled machine. Eddie worked his socks off (he was visibly knackered at the end) and his goal was a thing of beauty. Great to see Arsene there to witness this and feel the love of the supporters for him.

  • Excellent game and similarly insightful observations (TA & JNYC).

    I would only add a few things:
    – I really enjoyed all 3 goals. I mean I obviously appreciate Arsenal goals from general principle, and I’m accustomed to average and ugly goals, but yesterday all 3 of ours were energizing. Odegaard’s assist to Saka was clearly intentional, as Saka could anticipated it, but this kind of through ball disguised as a straight shot was missing from our arsenal. Martinelli was as cheeky as it gets, and deserved his goal for his all-around performance. However still Eddie’s goal was the best of the bunch, and (while I could be biased) I again believe that when Ode started his one-touch pass to Nktiah, he already foresaw this exact move from Eddie, as it was so flawless that it would really take a DB10 to improvise that on the spot. And the finishing was also sublime.
    – If the boys will keep up this intensity and performance up front, MSN will no longer refer to Messi-Suarez-Neymar (bunch of amateurish old-timers anyway), but Martinelli-Saka-Nketiah. Our trio is 65y combined, while the ‘original’ MSN is over a hundred now.
    – If I’d had to moan about something (which I obviously can’t help myself) I would mention that Marquinhos, Cozier-Duberry or Soares coud have been given a few minutes to play. Elneny was substituted to replace our captain in the 95th, but even that time Arteta could have introduced ACD, however I would have preferred to give the fresh guys 3-4 minutes + the 5 minutes of added time, like it happened to Vieira.

  • Johnno, Nketiah has certainly improved his touch and control, the ball used to bounce off of him to much for my liking but I reckon that Arteta has worked on this aspect of his game for sure. I agree with PB I would have liked to see Cozier-Duberry come on for a run but I guess the seniors have first dibs on minutes especially as we’ll need them purring in the weeks ahead. Hopefully a few youngsters will get some exposure at Oxford?

    That’s interesting about Arsenal developing ties with Indian clubs,

  • Madhu, maybethe next sporting superstar in India will want to be the next Bakayo Saka rather than the next Sunil Gavaskar? 😉

  • Finally a penny for the thoughts of Ainsley Maitland Niles as he sits at the bottom of the Premier League looking up at his old team mates, where did it all go wrong Ainsley?

  • Nice post Total and yes, Ben White, it wasn’t that long ago that he was being critiqued as a big waste of money, well I personally think he’s the best right-back in the EPL and if Southgate and his staff can’t see it then how dumb are they?

  • I do hope Kev. I myself was a cricket player a wicket keeper batsmen and played club cricket. Nowadays football is catching up. My son plays football and doesn’t like cricket. We have an Indian Super League which has decent amount of foreign players some European as well. I believe Man City is tied up with Mumbai FC. Athletico Madrid has tied up with Athletico Kolkata. Hopefully someday Arsenal can tie up with Banglore football club.

  • Great praise for Ode and the new MSN, PB. The best thing with Eddie yesterday was his ability to be a threat in dense space in the box. This is where Jesus does excel and Eddie really surprised me yesterday.

  • Nice post TA, i thought for their goal Gaby was somewhere on touch line which left saliba exposed. Otherwise it would have been easy. Ode in my mind dragged the team along. The whole team looked a bit rusty. Ode was the orchestrator and inspiration. B then took it upon himself in the second half. It’s a joy to watch this youngsters maturing.

  • Madhu, thanks for your observations. I really did not think the boys were rusty in the first half but really, really good without the initial reward for this. I loved the first half almost as much as the second one and have since then watched it all again. But we all see different things of course.

    Good point about Saliba being left exposed. They are a great partnership but can improve further imho.

  • I’m going to re-watch the game mid week but there’s a couple little things I loved.. one was the little flick by White- away from a defender- to himself before giving it calmly to Ødegaard for his Eddie assist. What skill for a CB/FB of his size. Also with a ball Antonio had in our box, Ben came across and just tipped it away, like taking candy from a baby.

    I know that on a second viewing I’m going to see a lot of midfield work from Nketiah. I was defending him on Twitter at the half because I thought he was having a good game playing in Jesus style.. one play where he was helping around the edge of our box, stole the ball from an opponent and starting is running into attack… it looked exactly like Jesus.

    I agree with PB… I was anxious with the lack of subs once we had a 2 goal lead. I knew they were not coming back. I would’ve taken off Partey and 2 of the front 4 at least. Remember Eddie is our only striker option at the moment.

  • J., about Eddie’s progress …
    You’re right about Eddie not being the finished product at the time when he used to pile up goals for the youth teams.
    He had flashes of his current brilliance already though. I remember in particular one game at Meadow Pk along the road to our PL2 title. He made a fool of the MUtd CB on the right wing at halfway-line level, then ran the 50 yds or so left with his head up high, before not letting a chance to the goalie, even though the angle was the trickiest one for a right-footed guy.
    So I think he had it in him to be a complete CF, but he needed to be given time to improve his allround game while not losing his poaching ability.
    It’s not easy to get that from a natural-born six-yard-box fox; I think Bouldie did a great job by not putting too much pressure on him – something which he might have been reproached with for other players, but in Eddie’s case it did work.
    Then, I also wouldn’t be surprised if at some point Eddie acknowledged how positive an influence Laca had on him. Alex’s spell in the red-and-white may have been an overall (relative imo) disappointment but the trick Eddie pulled on Kehrer (turning the defender into a dancing pole so as to get yourself a 1v1 with the goalie) was typical Laca stuff (of course GJ9 is brilliant at it too) – only Eddie does it now better than Alex ever did, because he’s a stronger, faster athlete than Laca ever was.
    The lad’s a tremendous “watch and learn” kind of apprentice and – mark my words, BKers – he’ll end up among the 100+ PL goalscorers …

  • Spot on observations Total and it was wonderful to see Arsene back at The Emirates for the first time since 2018. Lets hope he comes back on a permanent basis in an some type of administrative position. Apparently silent Sam was also in attendance so maybe something is being plotted?

  • Always difficult no matter what when teams come & park the 🚎.It’s like trying to unpick a rusty lock.Particularly when they get the first goal.Still class prevailed.V.impressive.

  • T, Eddie can possibly end up being considered a huge success for Arsenal… if he does a good job as a second choice striker who performs well and stays with us for years, that’s a big win for the club. Remember he cost us 0£ and 90k weekly is cheap compared to our rivals back up forwards..(except Man City Alvarez seems good business).
    That’s money we can use to improve other areas.

    Remember I’m biased, I’ve always liked Eddie, but his growth as an overall player under Arteta has surprised even me.

  • I agree with thoughts on Eddie. I have always seen him play well when he is given a start. This period he will play with all the first team and with a frontline of saka and martinelli. Because of this defenders will have a job to do on saka and martinelli leaving Eddie with some space. If Eddie gets another 4 goals till Jesus comes back he would have done a great job. That will also give confidence to Arteta to bring in slightly early when Jesus starts. It’s a testament to our academy coaches that two of our Academy kids scored last day and out frontline costs about 6 M. Compare this with Man C or Pool or Man U then you really see what we are building. Couldn’t be proud of the club as a whole.

  • I share the view on Eddie of LeGall (apart from Bould did any great job whatsoever), GN5, JNYC and Madhu. And J has a great point there: it is not only about skills and abilities, but also about the willingness (and salary!) to play the second choice striker. I think Eddie’s main strengths might not be his positioning and poaching instincts, but the acceptance of playing second fiddle behind Jesus. Which is more crucial than most of us would think. Even though if we had the funds to reinforce the attacking department (which I don’t think we do, when we try to improve the winger offering and the midfield at the same time), I think signing Osimhen, Watkins, Abraham, Toney or Vlahovic would disrupt the locker room balance big time, and would obviously demand more playing time than some lousy cup games and the last 7 minutes of a PL match. I sincerely hope that Mikel & Edu won’t go after them to sign a player with a 200k salary to the bench, but even if they do, I’m sure these players are way smarter than to accept that.

  • Wolverhampton v Manchester United * A (2-1)
    AFC Bournemouth v Crystal Palace A
    Fulham v Southampton H
    Newcastle United v Leeds United * H (3-0)
    Brighton & Hove Albion v Arsenal A
    Villarreal v Valencia * H (3-1)

    Stuart & Le Gall I’m missing your predictions.

  • Good to have you back in the saddle, Total. Your stand over the recent World Cup is to be respected.
    Living in a fallen world offers up so many moral quandaries; it is so hard not to turn a blind eye to some things. Should we pay our taxes if they contribute to the support of military bullying of another nation or sponsor an abortion industry? Should we listen to Michael Jackson anymore? Do we watch movies or TV where murder is offered as entertainment? Would we go to St James Park if offered free tickets to New Saudi castle Unt v Arsenal?
    I think of other World Cups: Argentina ’78 when the murderous Junta were in full bloody spate. Russia ’18 governed by the KGB Mafioso. West Germany ’74 after the debacle and cover up of the Munich Olympic terrorism. Qatar ’22 was a well run tournament which offered some fabulous football and, possibly the best final ever. The facts that it was stained by the blood of slaves, bribery, corruption and the worship of Mammon will ever be a ball and chain around the ankles of its legacy.
    The Press reflected our quandary and our human condition, riding two horses at once, reporting on the games with fervour and passion, and yet also bravely exposing the darkness behind the spectacle. It shone a light onto the tournament, asking, without ever answering the profound question, how are we to “be in the world but not of the world”?
    I struggle with these quandaries, and sometimes put my head in the sand. I salute you, Frank for acting upon your conscience.

    Thanks for the reminder GN5.

    Wolverhampton v Manchester United * 1-1
    AFC Bournemouth v Crystal Palace D
    Fulham v Southampton H
    Newcastle United v Leeds United * 3-0
    Brighton & Hove Albion v Arsenal A
    Villarreal v Valencia * 1-0

  • Wolverhampton v Manchester United 2-2
    AFC Bournemouth v Crystal Palace A
    Fulham v Southampton H
    Newcastle United v Leeds United 4-2
    Brighton & Hove Albion v Arsenal A
    Villarreal v Valencia 1-0

  • The game that our lads was playing had so much composure in them. Make mistakes, but keep your heads up and turn the game around in a jiffy.

    I still have the One Game at a Time mentality, although my friends who are not Gooners are asking me if I feel we will win the League.. which I simply said let’s do one game at a time.

    Cheers to a good Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone. Seems like this winter is cold.

  • That’s it, 84, OGAAT. Let’s enjoy the journey stage by stage. The future will be what it’ll be.

    Stay warm buddy and keep posting. Your views are valued here. 🤗

  • Good morning all, thank you Stuart & Le Gall we are mow all set for this weekends games.

    OGAAT sounds about right to me – but when I take a peek around the corner the next four EPL games look very tricky –
    Brighton A
    Newcastle H
    Tottenham A
    Manchester U H

    These games, against four of the current top seven teams, will most certainly test the mettle of our team and show us just how far we have or haven’t progressed.

  • Reims 2 Rennes 0
    Folarin on target
    Right-footed volley, from somewhere between the the penalty spot and the six-yard box – Jean-Pierre Papin kind of stuff
    Mandanda and the defender who was supposed to mark our lad, are still wonderin’ wtf just happened
    Balogoal they call him in Reims now (not kidding)

  • HT Reims 2 Rennes 1 – they’re a good team, Rennes, but at the start they didn’t expect what Reims had in store for them imo.
    Reims sacked their previous manager – Oscar Garcia – 3 months ago, and have appointed his former assistant as “caretaker manager”.
    His name is William Still , he’s a “Belgian-English” guy and has improved the team dramatically. From August to October, watching Reims was an ordeal, now it looks like Le Cirque du Soleil all over the pitch, and our boy looks like he’s having the time of his life. He could/should have scored another (Mandanda did well then) and he could/should have got at least one assist too.
    Not sure they have what it takes yet to play 90 minutes like this, though – if they do the change would be barely believable.

  • Great games, GN5. Four opportunities to take ‘six points’ from direct top four competitors. But really, the only game that matters is Saturday’s.

  • Reims 3 Rennes 1
    Balogoal strikes again (84′)
    Look, I know I’m the most biased fan you could come across with when it comes down to assessing our youngsters but … the kid is really impressive.
    Rennes aren’t the worst team in Ligue 1, far from it, but sometimes their defenders looked like Folarin was just too fast, too strong, too skilful for them.
    Bring him on home to us – Artetaball was made especially for forwards like him.

  • The greatest. His, “My life and the beautiful game” was the first football book I ever read, way back in my tender years. He, Elvis, Ali and my father were my early hero’s. I wanted to look like them, play like them, sing like them, fight like them, be like them. Thank you, Edson. Your number 10 shirt will be on my back all day today. I’ll get to meet you in a wee while.

  • 1970 – the first World Cup I was able to watch, thanks to my Pa who would get up, stand up for my rights to stay up late (very late, sometimes), against my Ma . Believe me, it took a very brave man to do this.
    We all have our “Pelé” moments, I guess. Mine will remain that dummy which sent Mazurkiewicz waving his arms in frenzy, as though he was trying to gather up into them a bunch of wild flowers of thin air.
    The real poetry of it all is that he didn’t score, of course. The goal itself, the celebrations would have ruined it all; the moment needed that ball rolling slowly by the right post to be perfect.
    My dad was an extrovert man, the kind of guy who lets you share all of his emotions during a game, – which is probably why I can still clearly remember today how silent he fell for a few seconds after witnessing that stroke of genius.
    Thanks for this memory too, Edson Arantes.

  • Brilliant comments, Stu and Legall. Love that bit of your dad going silent, Legall.

    I never saw him play other than on videos, so cannot add anything.

  • I was not born yet in the time of Pele but for whatever reason my favorite highlight is when was it Gordon Banks saved his header right off the goal line. RIP to a legend.

  • Superb video, Le Gall.

    On a more Arsenal related note, Balogun scored a brace, and named MotM in their 3:1 victory over 3rd place Rennes. On the same day Marseilles trashed Toulouse by 6:1, where Kolasinac (MotM, I kid you not) and his 61st minute replacement Tavares scored the 2 best goals. Check out the highlights, guys. Nice featuring Pepe with his both shots hitting the target making the opposing goalkeeper MotM, so that single point is a good result against 2nd place Lens.

    Balogun now scored 10 goals in Ligue 1, making him the youngest (and the least minutes played) of the 7 players scoring 8+ goals. Yet WhoScored doesn’t really rate Flo highly, as according to his profile page he has no strengths whatsoever, but 4 weaknesses: aerial threat, offside awareness, defensive contribution and holding on to the ball. (In comparison, his Arsenal rival Nketiah has 4 strengths – finishing, headed attempts, holding on to the ball and through balls – and only 2 weaknesses.)

  • Fine observations, as always, TA. The gunners are “still on track” will be my own description in your intro, to be fair. The lads simply continued from where they left off and it was brilliant because we (and perhaps, Newcastle) were the most affected by the World Cup interruption. The likes of Liverpool, manure and Chelsea benefitted from it as they can regroup and re-focus. We came off with an injury to a key player.

    I thought Odegaard was imperious and starting to look like a man on a mission. I am one of those who say he meant it, that assist for Bukayo’s goal. Look, he is known for putting some pace into his through balls in spaces, as he did for that one that Xhaka couldn’t get to. Such passes will usually look like miskewed shots when they reach their targets. With Real Madrid now flashing him the looks, his stock will be on the rise and this only bodes well for the team.

    Long may it continue.

  • RIP to the true GOAT and legend of our time, Edson Arantes do Nascimento, aka, Pele. Like Stuart, he was one of my heroes growing up and just from watching old videos of his games and abilities, at a time when heroes were important for a kid (I also had Muhammad Ali, my Dad and Mighty Sparrow – Calypso King).

    He had to go some day and has lived a great life for the game and humanity. He will forever be remembered whenever the history of the game is told. Sleep well, Legend!

  • I watched the 1958 World Cup Final on a friends 9″ black and white TV with a magnifying glass strapped to the front – it distorted the picture horribly but it was still a joy to watch the game. It was the first time I watched a TV as not many people in our area had a set. Our family never had one until the mid sixties , I believe it was a RK model.

  • We used to rent a Black & white TV from Redifussion for what is now pennies, didn’t have a colour set until 1977, but yeah, Pele, I listen to all the hype surrounding Maradonna, and latterly Messi & Ronaldo and just let drift on by, Pele was the King, he had that name for a reason…

    Mind you if we’d had TV’s back in the 1930’s I bet we’d have some wonderful stuff from Alex James and Ted Drake and David Jack and Pongo Warering and Dixie Dean and the many other great players whose best moments were never recorded.

    For me Johan Cruyff remains the best I saw in the flesh.

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