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west ham

West Ham v Arsenal

3-3 ft

Arsenal (4-2-3-1) Ospina; Bellerin, Gabriel, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin, Elneny; Sanchez, Ozil, Iwobi; Welbeck

For a neutral this game had it all – goals/potential red cards/wrongly disallowed goals, but for a fan (more specifically an Arsenal one) this game summed up our whole season, and probably the last 10 years under Arsene Wenger. Andy Carroll scored a 10 minute hat-trick when the game looked dead and buried for West Ham, 2-0 down at home and with half-time 60 seconds away, seemingly headed for defeat… Arsenal capitulated.

Going into this game, I had no idea Arsenal would once again fall foul of the ‘big man’ up top. Andy Carroll returned from injury to finally put that last nail into Arsenals’ title hopes with a performance that bullied our defense into submission. Arsenal were hounded and tormented by Didier Drogba for years and this game brought all those horrible memories back.

ozil scores

Ozil opens the scoring

The game had a scrappy start and its first yellow card came as early as 4 minutes in. Carroll with a rake down Koscielnys’ calf (on another day a red card) but it was West Ham who were aggrieved next as they had a goal from Lanzini wrongly disallowed for offside. Arsenal then began to take complete control of the game and were 2 – 0 up by the 35th minute, thanks to the ever impressive Alex Iwobi assisting both Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez who both finished beautifully past Adrian in the West Ham goal. Andy Carroll (who was starting his first premier league game since December 12th), then scored twice within 2 minutes to completely change the flow of the game, and 7 minutes into the second half he completed his hat-trick and Arsenal had Koscielny to thank for rescuing a draw, when Victory had looked so certain in the first half. Both sides had chances to win it. If this was the end of their faltering title hopes, at least Arsenal will never forget their final visit to Upton Park.

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Koscielny celebrates his equalizer

Here is where I think we went wrong; the selection of Gabriel and Ospina. Yes Ospina is a credible understudy and perhaps for a lesser club, a number one keeper, but when you have Petr Cech fit and available, he has to start. There can be no argument and certainly no room for sentiment. Cech commands his box better, he communicates and organises his defense more efficiently, and I believe he saves Carrolls second goal (more on that later).

Too many times in the past Arsenal have been bullied by strikers and this was the case again, how are we going to get bullied by a striker who barely plays? He spends more time injured than he does playing, yet scores a hat-trick against us on his first start in over FOUR MONTHS. When your manager comes out after and says ”We’ve conceded goals all year from crosses” it does makes you question his game management, you know Andy Carroll is a threat in the air so he benches our tallest defender and best equipped to deal with crosses in Mertesacker, and leaves the best goalkeeper in the league on the bench. It’s small margins like that, that decides championships, and sadly Arsene has got them wrong this year. Going back to the second goal, the ball hung in the air so long yet no one put a challenge in, Gabriel was too far away and left Carroll unmarked who then scores with a flying volley and Ospina doesn’t even move for it. It was so upsetting to see us concede goals like this- it’s basic defending, defending that severely needs improving if we’re ever going to win the premier league again.

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Carroll completes his hat trick

 

In other news…

A lot has been said about Arsene Wenger and his future this week, and it now looks like he will stay until the end of the 2017 season and honor his contract. Arsene has never broken a contract in his career and even though this year he has faced unprecedented levels of criticism, he’s unlikely to start now.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has become a $20 million target for his old club Southampton, if we can get that for him, it will represent an $8 million profit on a player that has never hit the heights that he promised.

Next game – Crystal Palace (H) 17th April.

Until next week.

 

 

 

 

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