Daily Archives: December 27, 2013

West Ham 1 Arsenal 3: Walcott Sends the Gunners to the Summit

Arsenal's Theo Walcott (3rd L) celebrates with team mates after scoring a goal against West Ham United during their English Premier League soccer match at the Boleyn Ground in London December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

Upton Park (Premier League)

West Ham: Cole (46′) – Arsenal: Walcott (68′, 71′), Podolski (79′)

Player RatingsMatch HighlightsWenger’s Press Conference

The Gunners weren’t in a good run of form coming into this heated clash against their East London rivals but it was a ground they had recorded a victory last season, so it seemed as if this had to be the game the endless run without victories was going to come to a halt. The manager brought Santi Cazorla back to the starting lineup in place of Tomas Rosicky.

West Ham were the quickest out of the blocks when Mark Noble executed a perfectly planned training move with Matt Jarvis but his cross was dealt with by Wojciech Szczesny in goal. On the other end of the pitch, Bacary Sagna waltzed with the ball before swinging a cross that was missed by Olivier Giroud…it turned out to be a familiar sight in the entirety of the game.

Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny punches the ball clear.

Noble fired a free kick goalwards from a somewhat acute angle but Szczesny was on hand to make a good save. Mesut Ozil linked up with Aaron Ramsey with a deft backheeled effort but the Welsh midfielder dallied on the ball and surrendered possession shortly afterwards.

Arsenal showed off some intricate passing play with Santi Cazorla teeing up Kieran Gibbs on the left. The fullback drilled the ball into the danger area but James Collins was alert to make a block with Giroud on the prowl. Walcott sent a corner that was headed to safety by the West Ham defense. Cazorla nodded the ball towards goal but Adrian made a fine save.

Ozil and Ramsey exchanged passes before the Welshman threaded a dinked pass to Walcott but the speedster missed when it seemed easy to score. Cazorla then blasted a shot over with his left foot and shortly after that, Ozil cushioned a through ball to Giroud in behind the defense but his shot was an aberration. For a striker low on confidence, that miss certainly didn’t help his cause.

Ozil and Cazorla started to influence the game more and the Spanish magician chipped the ball to the German maestro but his near post cut back needed the slightest of touches to be guided into the West Ham goal but Giroud wasn’t in the same wavelength with his teammates. Mikel Arteta made a rear foray forward and blasted a shot that missed by a lick of paint. Late in the first half, Ozil found Gibbs on his left and his drilled effort wasn’t reached by Giroud.

At the start of the second and against the run of play, Kevin Nolan fired a shot that was spilled by Szczesny and Carlton Cole punished the keeper for his error.

Carlton Cole is congratulated after scoring.

Matt Jarvis fired a shot that was saved by Szczesny. On the other end, Sagna crossed the ball to Giroud but he missed yet again. Joe Cole made some space for himself before sending a pass to Mohamed Diame. The Senegalese midfielder lofted a cross for Joey O’ Brien but his header was wide off the mark.

Adrian pulled a double save from Cazorla and Ozil and many fans believed that it was going to be one of those nights…then it happened, Ramsey picked up an injury and signaled to the bench that his team was up. Wenger brought on Lukas Podolski and drafted Cazorla to the middle. Within minutes of this tactical switch, Cazorla found Walcott whose tame shot somehow found its way through Adrian to level the contest.

Shortly afterwards, Walcott got in on the scoring act again, latching unto Podolski’s perfectly-timed cross to send the Arsenal fans into raptures.

Arsenal's Theo Walcott, right, celebrates his second goal goal against West Ham United

Cazorla chipped the ball over the defense and suddenly Podolski found himself one on one with Adrian. However, the German blasted his shot straight at the goalie. He wasn’t to be denied a second time when he used his thunderbolt of a left foot to blast in a cushioned pass from Giroud.

Wenger brought in Mathieu Flamini to add steel in midfield while the world’s best striker, Nicklas Bendtner, replaced a poor Giroud late on. Within moments of getting into the pitch, Bendtner fired a shot that wasn’t far from the target.

The final whistle was like music to the ears of Arsenal fans as they had returned to the summit of the Premier League. Liverpool went on to lose to Manchester City which signifies that if the Gunners get a win against Newcastle on Sunday, they’d begin the new year at the top.

Happy times are back again but the Gunners resolve will be tested against a resurgent Magpies in a rich vein of form.


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West Ham 1 Arsenal 3: Post-Match Thoughts and Player Ratings

poldi and theo

After a bad run of form that saw the Gunners pick up two points from a possible nine, they headed to Upton Park to take on Sam Allardyce and his West Ham team that’s renowned for their doggedness and eccentric style of play. Arsene Wenger recalled Santi Cazorla into the fold in place of Tomas Rosicky and Thomas Vermaelen retained his place in the heart of the defense alongside Per Mertesacker.

Listed below are the Gooner Daily ratings for Arsenal’s triumphant heroes at the Boleyn Ground:

Wojciech Szczesny: He was relatively untroubled throughout the game and dominated his area as you’d expect but West Ham’s only goal came when he failed to deal with a simple shot from Kevin Nolan and he parried it straight to Carlton Cole that duly punished him. The individual errors keep coming. 6/10

Bacary Sagna: The French workhorse marauded the right flank and supplied some inch-perfect crosses for his attackers. 7/10

Kieran Gibbs: This lad continues to improve with each passing game and he did well to balance offensive and defensive play. 7/10

Thomas Vermaelen: The Belgian had a very good game against Chelsea and retained his place yesterday. He kept his game really simple and did the right things in defense. Good to see him back on the act after some time out warming the bench. 7/10

Per Mertesacker: The BFG worked well with his defensive partner and shut out the attacks West Ham posed through the middle. He also used his height to great effect as he won a couple of lofted balls from the midfield. 7/10

Mikel Arteta: Arsenal’s unsung hero domineered his midfield and dictated the tempo well for his side. His influence on this team is unrivaled. He also had a shot that almost crept in. 7/10

Aaron Ramsey: The Welsh Dragon had a birthday to forget as he was a bit sloppy at times but his woes were compounded when he suffered a thigh strain that could sideline him for a while. 6/10

Santi Cazorla: The Spanish magician had been in and out of the team this season. His form has also been hot and cold but we saw the Santi Cazorla of old yesterday as he connected well with his teammates and stamped his authority on the game. Arsene Wenger’s plot to bring Lukas Podolski to the left saw Cazorla move to the middle. A move worth its weight in gold. 8/10

Mesut Ozil: The German schemer was ubiquitous in midfield but he wasn’t that influential as he would have liked. Almost created an assist for Olivier Giroud but they weren’t in the same wavelength. 6/10

Theo Walcott: Just when it seemed like it was going to be one of those nights where things weren’t going according to plan for the Gunners, Theo Walcott steps up the plate with two quickfire goals in the space of just three minutes to swing the game’s pendulum to Arsenal’s favor. 10/10 #shikenah

Olivier Giroud: He looked like a player bereft of confidence and when he skewed his shot wide, it was glaring to see the frustration in his expressions. However, his team tried really hard to create chance after chance for him but he always missed the opportunity for a tap in. Got an assist for the game’s clincher though. 6/10

Lukas Podolski: It took an unfortunate Aaron Ramsey injury to make the manager realize that he needed to make a change to influence the game positively and he got it in Lukas Podolski. After a long while out, the German machine came onto the pitch to create an assist and score the goal that put the game beyond doubt. Efficient as always. 9/10

13/14: West Ham 1-3 Arsenal - Lukas Podolski

Mathieu Flamini and Nicklas Bendtner didn’t play long enough to get player ratings.

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