West Ham United 1 – 3 Arsenal
1 – 0 Diame (21)
1 – 1 Giroud (41)
1 – 2 Walcott (77)
1 – 3 Cazorla (83)
Despite representations to the contrary, this was not Big Sam’s return to bullying ways. Reading some of the coverage this morning, the stories were written before kick-off. Allardyce wanted to relive his glory days at Bolton and give the visitors what is represented as the customary bloodied nose, and failed. The aerial bombardment is still there but this year’s Arsenal has more depth than the nouveau from northern France, is of fuller mind and body, leaving West Ham to be the acquired taste.
And it is one that few want to, Matt Law of this morning’s Sunday Mirror at least having the wherewithall to point out that the boorish behaviour of players is reciprocated in the stands. For all of the complaints about the Ashley Coles, Steven Gerrards and John Terrys of this world, the stands are little better. Not quite back to the 1970s but heading there. Upton Park devoid of the purists football on which they prided themselves, is just another grubby little footballing backwater.
In the middle of this stands Santi Cazorla, short of height, grand of stature, a sparkling performer once more for Arsenal. Praised post-match by all, Theo Walcott captured the Spaniard’s contribution,
He’s come in to the Premier League and taken it by storm. He’s our conductor. His goal was fantastic. I don’t even know what-footed he is, to be honest.
Certainly the mantle of key player has passed seamlessly to the Summer signing and gliding across the Upton Park pitch, the Player of the Season at many levels is emerging. His sumptuous strike to confirm the win was fitting closure on the early evening proceedings. It came as no surprise, West Ham had been warned by earlier effort which had Jaaskelainen scrambling across the goal as the ball fizzed wide of the post.
For Walcott it proved an interesting cameo; effective as a wandering striker, he was still cast to the flanks. Optimism this morning comes from headlines which have no substance beneath; I do not believe he will remain at the club beyond the summer but it would be nice for a player to disprove that theory. But Walcott deserves credit for his twenty-nine minute cameo; piercing runs through the hosts’ defence offered a glimpse of his central striking promise. A shame for Walcott it is overshadowed by the book-ends from Giroud and Cazorla.
Arsenal dominated the opening quarter but found themselves a goal down. Jenkinson’s opening raid forced a corner from which Giroud’s effort struck Carroll. It was the only tangible effort from the control and midway through the half, Arsenal were made to pay as Diame cut into the box and found the finish that the time and space afforded him, deserved. Power and curl on the shot defeated Mannone. The Italian saved from Carroll as West Ham’s predictable tactics bore fruit.
The visitors recovered their poise and as half-time approached, parity. Giroud had been denied a scoring opportunity when Mertesacker got to the ball first. The second time he made no mistake, the Frenchman starting and finishing the move at near post, following Podolski’s surging run to the byline. A relief for the striker, his hard work paying off and the settling in process will no doubt have become a little easier. Nolan might have made such joy short-lived but missed when it seemed easier to score.
West Ham resorted to Allardyce-type in the second half, Carroll beating Mannone to one effort with the ball skewing wide rather than into the empty net. The thuggery emerged with Vaz Te putting his shoulder into Mannone’s head with costly effect, the striker will miss up to twelve weeks following his dislocation.
Arsenal should have been awarded a penalty as Ramsey tumbled in the area with replays – the crucial part – showing an entanglement of feet to prevent the Welshman’s progress. None was forthcoming. Walcott’s tidy backheel was narrowly missed by Giroud before the substitute gave Arsenal the lead, Giroud reversed the roles and the England international slid the ball into the net beyond the grasp of Jaaskelainen.
It was not a match from which Arsenal emerged unscathed, Kieran Gibbs’ thigh injury is likely to see his withdrawal from the England squad, a reprieve for Ashley Cole no doubt as even Mr Creosote believes that the Chelsea full back should be suspended. His morph into a tabloid headline last night was utterly laughable.
The win recovered confidence following last weekend’s defeat, two wins in three days following the Chelsea defeat was the best response possible.