West Ham 1 – Arsenal 3: Review and Player Ratings: Giroud’s finishing matches his looksBy: Lachlan | October 7th, 2012
This is a result that makes us all much happier. In a game that we were in control of, we went down after an unusual moment of brilliance from one of the opposition players. We followed this up with some determination and persistence, and we were eventually rewarded with three valuable points that leaves us sitting fifth on the table (until tonight at least). Good performances all over the park won us this game, with no players having a particularly bad game, and many players stepping up. One of the most notable moments in the match was Olivier Giroud scoring his first league goal for Arsenal to bring us level, and his celebrations said it all – he needed to score very badly.
Arsene Wenger fielded a team similar to the one I guessed in the preview, opting for Mertesacker to come into the centre of defence in the place of Koscielny, Ramsey coming into the midfield for Coquelin and Giroud started up front and Gervinho on the right. West Ham fielded a relatively attacking midfield with Diame probably the most defensive minded player and Carroll alone up front.
Arsenal started the game strongly and in complete control. The West Ham goal was under assault, with Cazorla having an early chance and Giroud having a decent shot tipped past the post for a corner. Arsenal continued to control and match and get shots away before West Ham pulled a goal out of nowhere. Well to be fair, it wasn’t really from nowhere, just against the run of play quite a bit. Diame was on the edge of the Arsenal box and managed to round Ramsey, leaving only Mertesacker to beat. Now lots of people have been going on about how Mertesacker should have closed him down sooner, but the way I remember the goal, he was in a good position to cover the cross (the play that everyone was expecting) and before the shot I wasn’t too concerned about his lack of haste in closing him down. Then Diame managed to curl a shot around Mannone from a position that was frighteningly close to the goal line. What a finish.
Now Diame decided to celebrate his goal with the fans. Fair enough I say, I think it is stupid that players should get booked for that one (I remember van der Vaart being on a yellow and basically knocking the ball into our net with his hand and then doing the same thing and instead of being sent off, we were down 1-0. I was furious at that one. Consistency is the ket), but a rule is a rule and he was booked. Almost immediately Diame made an atrocious challenge on Mikel Arteta and was given his second yellow and was off.
Oh wait, no, the referee decided to throw out the rule book for not the first time in the match. Diame was not booked for the second time and played on.
Late in the first half Podolski got on a good run down the left hand side and fired a low cross across the six yard box, and found the outstretched left boot of Olivier Giroud who turned the ball into the back of the net. 1-1. A great way to score his first league goal for the club and to reward Arsene Wenger for having faith in him on this occasion.
Not long before the half time whistle Gervinho gave away a free kick that should have ended up in the back of the net, but Kevin Nolan spurned his first chance of many for the night.
Early in the second half West Ham were mostly in control, with possession nearing 70% for them for the first 15 minutes or so of the second half, and despite Andy Carroll looking dangerous to the Arsenal defence on many occasions, West Ham were unable to penetrate. At one point Vaz Te decided to leave his foot down when going over the top of Mannone, giving our young keeper a solid knock to the head (his second for the match). Luckily he wasn’t hurt badly, and instead Vaz Te dislocated his shoulder when he took a dive to try and win a penalty. What a moron.
Andy Carroll should have put the home side ahead at around 70 minutes when he won yet another aerial duel in the Arsenal box, beating Mannone as well, but only managed to head the ball past an empty goal. A very lucky break for Arsenal.
Not long after this, Ramsey was tripped on the edge of the box. I jumped to my feet, thinking this must surely be a penalty, not a free kick! Oh wait, apparently that is allowed as well now. You have got to be fucking kidding me? We were screwed by the referee on this night.
By this point Gibbs had come off due to what seemed to be some sort of muscle strain that had been holding him back for most of the match. The Santos was the replacement, and he seemed to control himself mostly in forays up the field. Wenger also subbed Gervinho, who had had a relatively quiet night, and brought Walcott into the mix. I personally felt like Walcott was much too keen to prove himself rather than contribute to the team, but to the guy’s credit, he did a fucking top job tonight.
Giroud played Walcott in, and with a mixture of pace and quality finishing, Walcott was able to pass the ball past Jääskeläinen. 1-2. A few minutes later, Walcott had another great moment and set Cazorla up for what has to be our goal of the season so far. On his non preferred Cazorla slotted the ball in the top right corner from the top of the box with quite a few players around him. Very much the sort of goal you seen Ronaldo score quite regularly. 1-3
At this point Wenger subbed Koscielny on for Podolski, and suddenly we are playing 5 at the back, with both full backs remaining relatively deep most of the time. Quite a good move from Wenger I thought, and out centre halves worked quite well together to shut the game down.
Possession: 31% – 69%
Passing: 75% – 87%
Shots: 9 – 21
Shots on Target: 3 – 7
Corners: 4 – 16
Fouls: 12 – 8
Yellow Cards: 3 – 2
Mannone – 6.5: Wasn’t too troubled throughout the match, but made a couple of decent saves and kept his form despite a few knocks to the head. Was beaten in the air by Carroll, and that should have resulted in us conceding, he is lucky it didn’t.
Gibbs – 6.5: Nothing spectacular, but no real errors. Seemed to be carrying a knock, which may have been the reason for his weaker performance. I hope its nothing serious.
Vermalen – 7: Was quite solid at the back, and did pretty well against Carroll in the air given his size. Also managed to control himself in terms of runs forward, hopefully he can keep that up.
Mertesacker – 7: Probably should have done better. Whilst I don’t think his decision not to close down was a horrible one, he could have done better. My commentator said a good centre halve should be able to do two things at once (defend against the cross and close down) and Mertesacker is a good centre half, so would have been nice to see him prevent that one.
Jenkinson – 7.5: Another good game from young Jenkinson. He is quite good in attack and puts in a few good crosses each match. I have decided that the best part of his game is when he has to take on a player one on one in a counter type situation. He has a surprising amount of pace and can usually deal with these situations really well.
Arteta – 9 – MOTM: The consistency is unbelievable. Would it be wrong for me to give this guy MOTM every game? I saw this little graphic on Arseblog, and I think it says it all:
Ramsey – 6.5: A decent game, but was maybe at fault a bit for the West Ham goal. He is showing some good form at the moment though and I am keen to see him continue to play in this role. For those of you who remember me insisting that he should go on loan for a season, I am beginning to think that maybe it was worth keeping him home this season..
Cazorla – 8.5: Another great game from the wee lad. He was given a lot more space than I was expecting (probably as a result of West Ham’s attacking midfield) and made the most of it. His goal was top notch, and he was good throughout the rest of the match. I honestly think he works best when he is deployed with Giroud up top. I guess only time will tell though.
Gervinho – 6.5: Very quiet night for Gervinho. Things just weren’t working along his side of the pitch, and didn’t end up with any good chances to score. It must have been tough to be moved out wide after so many good performances in the centre.
Podolski – 7.5: Put in a great assist for Giroud’s goal, and was pretty good otherwise. As always he works pretty hard, even in defence, and I really respect that in a player. I am still convinced that he is our best signing of the summer.
Giroud – 8.5: He just keeps racking up the assists. Now he has a goal to add to his tally. Things just worked out well for Giroud in this game, and hopefully this can work out as a massive confidence boost that leads him to many more top notch performances.
Santos – 6.5: Came on and managed to not only stay in our half of the field pretty well, but also avoided making too many lunging tackles that left us wide open at the back. He also didn’t end up in any high speed police chases.
Walcott – 8.5: Despite the contract situation, it must be getting hard for Wenger to leave Walcott on the bench. He came on and scored a great goal that gave us the lead, and then gave an assist to Cazorla. I personally thought that Cazorla had the option to lay it out for Walcott who almost definitely would have scored as well. I came across an interesting stat earlier this morning. Walcott was subbed on in the 60th minute, and prior to that, Arsenal had 8 shots, 2 of which were on target. In the next 35 minutes Arsenal had 13 shots, of which 5 were or target. Before he came on I honestly didn’t think we were going to win, and he was literally a game changer.
Koscielny – N/A: Came on for Podolski once we were up 3-1, and it was nice to see the manager make a change that locked up the game for once.
So 3 points for Arsenal to take into the interlull. We have a heap of players heading out with their national teams, so we all have our fingers crossed that no one ends up with an injury. We should have some stuff for everyone to read over the break, and I’m sure we are looking forward to the trip to Norwich in two weeks time.