They have been sort of a bogey team to Arsenal in recent years. After the opening day 0-2 defeat of Arsenal at the Emirates stadium in 2015/2016 season when they exposed our noncommittal attitude, reminding us that no match was easy, West ham followed up the assault with a memorable come back at Upton park on the reverse fixture-led by Andy Carroll. Arsenal were up 2-0 before being pegged back at 3-3.
This week 14 fixture was made even more suspense packed; Arsenal tettering on the brink of average/lack of form in recent weeks and their London rivals all picking up maximum points. Chelsea won Man city 1-3 at Etihad while Spurs thrashed Swansea 5-0 at the lane. So Arsenal had everything to play for against the Hammers.
The match started evenly and the Gunners were on the front foot just as Arsène Wenger said in his pre match press conference. The attack was mainly coming from the left flank where Chamberlain, who had been average in most of his recent starts in the side, was at the heart of everything good. Monreal also made good use of our width to stretch the West ham defence to breaking point.
The breakthrough came midway through the half when Alexis capitalised on Coquelins sublime close down on the hammer’s Italian defender Ogbonna to slip Alexis in one on one with the last defender. The Chilean made no mistake of it, brushing off Winston Reid before squaring it unselfishly to Özil who had the easiest of goals to tap in.
This closing down and breathing down the neck of opposing defense has come to characterise Alexis front play this season. He did the same thing last weekend against Bournemouth and forced Cook into an error which directly resulted to a goal. Now everyone thinks the Chilean best position is CF as opposed to fan’s earlier preference that he played on the left flank. On this note, Arsène, as always was right in making him the main centre forward.
1. Buying Mustafi
2. Moving Alexis to C.F.
Otherwise we are almost the same team as last season.
As the game wore on, it became evident that the gunners came with a game plan: pacey and direct play. Did they execute it to perfection?
Xhaka/Coquelin axis had both the defensive and attacking discipline necessary for a team who wants to play a fast flowing attacking football. The timely interception of Coquelin complimented Xhaka’s quick incisive passes into the channels which overloaded the West ham defence and left them in wonderland for the entirety of the match.
Inasmuch as Cazorla/coquelin offers much more to Arsenal, this combination on show at the Olympic stadium is the best alternative central midfield pairing we have seen this season.
In defence, the central defenders were an understanding unit as they shut out almost all the West ham attacking threats save for that one moment of ingenuity from Dimitre Payet that allowed substitute Carrol to nod home after the ball hit the woodwork. Gabriel struggled with a knock for a while, but later shook it off to finish 90 minutes, even though he didn’t offer the same attacking threats as Bellerin. Monreal was his usual calm self on the left back and pushed the West ham’s defence to full stretch.
This was one of the most complete performance of the Arsenal side this season; Mesut Özil scored and assisted, Sanchez scored a hat-trick and assisted one, chamberlain also scored from 25 yards and assisted too. Up next in the Premier league is the visit of the Potters to the Emirates stadium, but not before we travel to Basel on Tuesday to play our final group game in the champions league. It’s been an almost perfect weekend for Arsenal. Let’s hope for more of this performance in the coming weeks. COYG !!
-Fair Play Gooner