West Ham Review: Helter-Skelter Football But Three Points It Is

Arsenal 3 – 1 West Ham United

As the game drew to a close, the commentator mentioned something about Unai Emery “having a platform to build on”. It certainly isn’t a defensive one based on the first three matches of his reign. We were a shambles defensively, not helped by full-backs thundering forward in attack with nobody dropping back to cover. As soon as we ceded possession, our naivety was utterly exposed.

It’s a point not lost on the coach:

“It’s clear we need to improve and we need to improve on working to not concede many chances like today for the opposition. Also, why we conceded is for analysis and for us to improve.

“It is clear today that maybe in the first half we wanted to use the right back and left back in the attacking moments and we needed the balance with the midfielders. In the first half, we conceded a lot of options.

“But in this balance, the first goal is in one action with Hector, finished by Nacho. And another option we didn’t do this attack with the fluidity and the balance for the transition.”

But we won. And while we can’t gloss over the concerns, we can’t ignore the positives. Three goals, coming back once again from a goal down, and not letting up in our attacking purpose from kick-off to the final whistle. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang still hasn’t scored but has done his utmost to find the back of the net.

We were a lot better in the second half. Maybe Unai Emery should use reverse psychology and name the team he wants to finish the game with at kick-off, before reverting to his original line-up at the end. Anything’s worth trying to get a ninety-minute performance out of the players.

There’s A Hole In My Defence, Dear Liza

The Spaniard threw his curveball. No Torreira from the start and his performance from the bench made his omission all the more baffling. When he arrived, Xhaka played a lot better which is no coincidence. That Guendouzi made way for Torrerira was no surprise. It’s a game for the youngster to chalk up to experience. By no means the only culprit, the frequency of ceding possession was a significant factor in being hooked.

Torreira influenced the second goal but not as much as Issa Diop. His ‘Garryowen’ from the byline was met returned with interest following good work by Monreal, with the hapless Diop eventually diverting the ball into his own net. When you grin and think about the calamitous defending, see how seamlessly the name Mustafi slots into that sentence instead of Diop…

There was a more balanced side in the second half but not an end to the defensive problems. Not that the centre-halves were the issue nor West Ham having some decent individuals on display. Our performance was crying out for someone with the pace of Felipe Anderson on the break. He made light of the space vacated by the midfield on more than one occasion and left us trailing in his wake.

The visitors created enough chances that the headline for this post could have easily been “How?” because I’m pretty sure we’re all wondering how West Ham didn’t equalise before Danny Welbeck scored. Lucas Perez demonstrated why getting any sort of fee was good business but his cross-shot was just one of a number of wasted opportunities as the game drew to a close.

Welbz sealed the win, finding himself with enough time and space to pivot slowly and thump the ball home. With his feet and not a shin in sight.

Dear Mr Emery, Mesut Can’t Do PE Today…

As Unai Emery was to find out post-match, three points are good news but the questions inevitably turn to the problems. Defensive lapses were just the warm-up, the appetiser before the entrée of the bad. Mesut Özil might well be sick and there may well not have been a training ground bust-up, but that doesn’t sell.

Everyone’s eyes rolled when the reason for absence was given as ‘sick’; c’mon, Arsenal, that’s an E-. Cynicism is so high after his absences last season so giving ‘sick’ as the reason was never going to be accepted. Perhaps there is something more serious underneath in which case come up with something better than ‘sick’.

There are some legs in this story, all the club will be hoping is that Jose Mourinho shows a bit of stamina and doesn’t completely implode until tomorrow night’s game.

Anyway, three points is three points and from being relegation candidates, we’re now mid-table mediocrity. Onwards and upwards.

’til Tomorrow.

9 thoughts on “West Ham Review: Helter-Skelter Football But Three Points It Is

  1. ” Fullbacks thundering forward in attack”….
    Even if it was not the right thing to do Yogi, the description alone brings a shiver of excitement to any true Arsenal supporter! 😉

  2. LSG (in response to your comments on the last post) –

    I think (and I fully accept that this is just a big old opinion based mostly on optimism and only the most rudimentary understandings of how football management work – so I could very well be wrong!) that Emery has a particular way of playing that he wants to engrain into the club, and in these early days he’s imposing it fairly heavy-handedly to try and change the mindset of players. Based purely on reports from others, as I didn’t watch PSG or Sevilla – he does seem to change tactics depending on the opposition, but they would all fall under the umbrella of the style he wants to play. I think tactical flexibility will come when the players actually understand their ‘Plan A’ – but deviating from that in these early changes, when he’s already facing an uphill struggle in terms of changing the mindset of players will end up with most of them not knowing their arse from their elbow.

    I agree – to create a team as good as Man City will cost eye-watering amounts, and we will need significant investment to be able to think about playing as well as they do on as consistent a basis as they do. However, Man City is at the pinnacle of this style, and I think that organisation (so something players who might not have the talent for silky one touch passing in their own area can still engage with) can help us steady the ship, whilst we bring in reinforcements as and when we can.

    I fully accept this is all based on hope as to how I think it might turn out, but yet again saying that we can’t push on is also based on (probably realistic) subjective views. I very much doubt we’ll be going toe to toe with City or Liverpool by the end of the season, but I don’t think we’re going to be a complete shambles for years because only players that cost 70 million plus can play this system, and we’ll need to wait a few years to implement it (that’s an exaggeration obviously, not saying that’s what you’re saying!).

    So yes, I basically think we’ll see more tactical tweaks based on the opposition, but he’s trying to impose his plan a on them now because to be honest it’s a bit of a mess, and if we keep changing styles every week before we get that down, we’ll flatter to deceive pretty quickly.

    That being said, we’re not challenging for the league without quite a bit of investment, but I’m hoping that we can nail this (if inconsistently at first) style of playing sooner rather than later!

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