Sunday, 31 October 2010

Three points for Arsenal as there is only one goal scorer on Song

Arsenal v West Ham
Premier League
At Ashburton Grove

Arsenal (4-3-3): Fabianski, Sagna, Squillaci, Koscielny, Clichy, Fabregas, Denilson [Walcott - 67], Song, Nasri, Chamakh [Eboue - 90], Arshavin [Bendttner - 79].
Goals: Song (88)

The history books will record this as three point for Arsenal but in truth this was arguably the Gunners toughest win of the season.

It was a day when the team failed to click as they were heading goal wards. A staggering 23 shots were peppered towards Robert Green's goal, nine of which were on target, one was score and two hit the woodwork.

It was a disappointing performance again from Arsene Wenger's men and a pretty scrappy affair.

But they say the sign of Champions are those teams which grind out a result when they are not playing well and these three points will keep us in touching distance with Chelsea, who remain top of the table with a five point advantage.

It was a late goal which won us the match, coming in the 88th minute. Alex Song was on the end of a Gael Clichy cross to head home from inside the six yard box to give us victory.

That's three goals for Song in his last three starts and Clichy's assist was his first at the Grove in the Premier League since January 2008, which was coincidently also against West Ham.

For long periods though many thought it was going to be West Ham's day with Robert Green outstanding in the Hammer's goal.

Green made nine saves during the 95 minutes, the joint top for all keepers in one Premier League game this season..

The ball seemed to stick to him. And if he wasn't saving it, it was his post and cross bar which were keeping Arsenal at bay.

The first half was a dour affair. Song, Squillaci and Fabregas coming closest to breaking the deadlock from open play.

West Ham were keen to attack us on the break and try to make the most of the set pieces they were awarded. But Lukusz Fabianski was equal to anything that was thrown at him, punching rather than catching in the wet conditions.

Andrey Arshavin didn't look at the races yet again. His passing was sloppy and he clearly forgot his shooting boots with two efforts going wide and the other was blocked.

A hefty challenge on Denilson should have resulted in a booking for Scott Parker after he took the legs of the Brazillian as he followed through, but the referee - who was inconsistent all game - took no action.

The second half was brighter and Arsene Wenger clearly sent a message to his players they needed to up the tempo and move the ball quickly around the pitch.

A free kick from Samir Nasri brought the ground to its feet as the Frenchman from 35-yards out propelled a right foot shot against the cross bar with Green beaten.

Moments later a game of pin ball was played inside the Hammers half as no one could get hold of the ball until Fabregas shot and smashed Parker straight in the face.

And Arsenal could well have been awarded a penalty had the referee spotted a tug on Arshavin by Da Costa. From my position I thought the ball had got away from the Russian and he didn't have it under control.

Wenger then made his first switch of the call, bringing off Denilson - who had an okay game - and replacing him with Theo Walcott.

The England man brought a bit of spark to our game but unfortunately for us wasn't involved heavily in the 28 minutes he was on the pitch.

A free kick from Arshavin was whipped into the box but Chamakh who rose above everyone else to win the header placed the ball straight at Green.

Gooners were in disbelief again when four minutes after his introduction Walcott had an effort come back off the post. He'd been set off by Fabregas down the right, cut back into the area and slid the ball under Green. However his shot hit the inside of the far post and bounced back kindly for the Hammers keeper.

Some more fine shot stopping from Green saw him save efforts from Walcott and Fabregas. And then we headed into the final few minutes of normal time.

It was however to be Arsenal's day. With two minutes left Song timed his run superbly to meet a Clichy cross at the far post for Arsenal to claim all three points.

Afterwards Arsene Wenger said:
"We needed to be patient, intelligent and not make a mistake at the back against a West Ham team who had a strong spirit and were well-organised. 
"We showed patience because in the first half it was difficult to get into the flow of our passing so we had to wait until they got a bit fatigued. 
"West Ham kept going and we did as well. We kept the structure of our game right, we didn't do anything stupid, we kept trying to be intelligent and that in the end got us the goal with two minutes to go."
The result leaves us in second place on 20 points with a five point gap to Chelsea who lead the table after ten games. Manchester United are third, behind us on goal difference, whilst their neighbours Manchester City are in fourth on 17 points after losing away at Wolves. 

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