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Arsenal’s Title Challenge Well and Truly Over

Match ReportMatch Highlights Post-Match Press Conference

Playing against West Ham away was never going to be an easy task, bearing in mind that their last loss at home was away to Bournemouth as far back as August. Arsene Wenger stuck to his guns by sticking with the same team that had been victorious against Everton and Watford so a lot was expected of them.

Everything seemed to go according to when some Alex Iwobi magic allowed the Gunners to run away with a two goal lead. The first goal was from Mesut Ozil after he was located by a sumptuous pass from the young Nigerian. The German still had to maintain his composure before placing the ball past the onrushing Adrian.

Iwobi was instrumental in the second goal as he dinked the ball to the Chilean maverick that scored his second goal in two games.

2-0 up, everything seemed right but in typical Arsenal fashion, the lads capitulated just minutes before halftime. We’ve always known that Andy Carroll can be a handful and his aerial threat was always going to be a problem but sadly, the team didn’t have a game plan for the English bulky forward. Carroll got his first on the night when he headed a lofted cross past a hapless David Ospina. The defense went to sleep again as Carroll had two bites at the cherry to level the contest.

Going into the break level on goals with West Ham was highly disappointing but conceding a third from the same predictable format was disheartening. The Gunners probed for an equalizer and finally got through Laurent Koscielny but the injection of Aaron Ramsey, Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott did nothing to aid Arsenal’s attacking cause. The Welsh Jesus had the one chance on the edge of the area that was blocked by Winston Reid.

At the end, the spoils were shared in the last London derby at the Boleyn Ground but from an Arsenal perspective, the title race is well and truly over. As it stands, Arsenal’s only ambition would be to celebrate St. Totteringham’s day and they would be hoping that Tottenham gets a bad result against Manchester United today.

A valid argument was raised over the selection of David Ospina over a fit-again Petr Cech, but Arsene Wenger shared his thoughts on that issue,

The thinking [behind choosing Ospina] was that he has had some outstanding performances. With Petr Cech or David Ospina, we have exactly the same problem in the air. We didn’t concede in the last two games. Since the beginning of the season, we have had exactly the same problem, no matter who plays.

This is quite disappointing from the boss if you ask me. Cech has a more dominant presence than Ospina and I believe that he would anticipated a couple of crosses before they reached its intended target, Carroll, but Ospina, like many times in the past, always chooses to remain on his line and times without number, he’s always beaten.

It’s really sad to see what the season that promised so much has turned into and I’m really disappointed with the way everything has panned out. Enough ranting for one morning though.

Sayonara.

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Arsenal 0-2 West Ham: A Nightmare Debut for Cech

Petr Cech fails to punch clear the ball as Cheikhou Kouyate heads in the opening goal

A debut to forget

Arsenal 0 – West Ham 2 (Kouyate 43′, 57′)

Match Highlights Post-Match Press Conference

Sometimes it’s pretty difficult to write about a game you didn’t watch, but after reading a plethora of match reports and watching a couple of clips here and there, I’m actually glad I didn’t subject myself to such mental torture. Arsenal is one club that never ceases to surprise me. We had played five preseason games, won all five of them, scored 15 and conceded just one goal to Ross Barkley (did you guys see his screamer against Watford?!). The Gunners even battled for a hard-fought victory over Chelsea and many thought that the players had the right platform to start the Premier League campaign on a high. What did we get instead? Same ol’ disappointing bottling shoot-themselves-on-foot Arsenal.

Canon Crested’s resident blogger says that the sky is definitely falling, but I think it’s too early to start drawing conclusions for the campaign ahead. While I’ve seen several reports and player ratings for the game, I was shocked to see how a veteran like Petr Cech fluffed like that. Yes, we all make mistakes from time to time, but it wasn’t an encouraging start to his life at North London bearing in mind that we would have crucified Wojciech Szczesny or David Ospina if they committed such errors. The goalie shared his thoughts after the game on Twitter,

That’s a very good attitude from the goalie and bearing in mind that he has played 635 games in world football. Cech is a legendary goalie goalkeeper that will be a fantastic addition to the club but this loss to West Ham would be a reality check the lads needed. Besides Cech, several outfield players under performed and I expect the manager to shake things up against a Crystal Palace side that began their own campaign with a win over Norwich.

Santi Cazorla thrived in the base of the midfield besides Francis Coquelin but since the campaign began, Wenger has deployed him on the left flank, to accommodate Aaron Ramsey in the middle.

Santi Cazorla evades Cheikhou Kouyate and James Tomkins

Closing down!

Cazorla doesn’t get to see the ball as much as he’d want and now that’s he’s deployed on the left flank, he’d have to cut in to make his mark. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens between Cazorla and Ramsey when Sanchez returns to the left wing. With Francis Coquelin and Mesut Ozil more or less assured of their places due to the importance of their roles, it’s going to be nice to know how Wenger manages the situation.

Elsewhere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was culpable for another goal yet again, like what he did against Everton in the Barclays Asia Trophy. The forward needs to add some consistency to his game if he wants to keep his place in the side. The Olivier Giroud – Theo Walcott conundrum continued and one wonders how long it’s going to go on for. So many questions, no answers yet.

Wenger would need to remind the lads that it’s really important they bounce back from this disastrous result with three vital points at Selhurst Park. Per Mertesacker agrees with this sentiment. Crystal Palace have become a very decent side since Pardew took over and they’ve been a tough nut to crack at home with the Gunners struggling to snatch a victory but got it nonetheless.

It’s really sad to see things pan out this way but we would have to wait till Sunday to see how the lads prepare for the game. The guys have worked really hard in the summer and the performances in preseason showed some good cohesion. With Alexis Sanchez working his way to full fitness, he would be vital for the team in their bid for silverware this season.

Sayonara.

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West Ham Preview: Team News, Injury Updates and Predicted Lineups

Arsenal’s last home game against West Ham was triumphant

The Premier League kicked off yesterday and with it, the drama, excitement and the whole nine yards. While I was almost bored to death watching Manchester United against Spurs, the Chelsea vs. Swansea game got me off the edge of my seat because of the all-action display, especially from the away side. C’mon, have you seen Branislav Ivanovic destroyed like that before? Not to talk of Jonjo Shelvey’s audacious corner kicks that almost deceived the goalie twice. Someone, preferably Garry Monk, has to have a chat with Bafetembi Gomis about his celebration. Maybe he’s try so hard to get his own celebration in the next edition of FIFA coming up towards the tail end of the year.

The table has began to take shape with teams securing all important results and Arsenal would want to continue their great form with a home clash against West Ham. The Gunners showed that they could win dirty when they battled hard at Wembley to win the Community Shield against Chelsea so, they’d be hoping to resume business against a West Ham side that was recently dumped out of Europe by a Romanian side called Astra Giurgiu.

Arsenal Team News

Arsenal have won their last 10 league and cup games against West Ham, including nine Premier League matches. West Ham will have to wary about Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott, that have scored five times against them. The Gunners would be hoping to secure the points that would give them an edge at the start of the new campaign.

Arsenal Injury / Suspension News

Alexis Sanchez (lacking match fitness), David Ospina (lacking match fitness), Jack Wilshere (ankle), Tomas Rosicky (knee), Mathieu Flamini (ankle) and Danny Welbeck (knee)

Arsenal Predicted Lineup

Arsenal 4-2-3-1 football formation

West Ham Team News

West Ham are winless in 12 Premier League away games (D5, L7) since a 2-1 victory at West Brom on 2 December 2014. However, in Dimitri Payet, they possess the most creative force in Europe last season, as the stats books tell us that he created 135 chances for Marseille last season. West Ham has a shambolic record at the Emirates, winning just once in their last eight visits. The game could see West Ham skipper, Kevin Nolan, make his 400th Premier League appearance. He currently has 99 goals and I’m hoping he doesn’t get his century today.

West Ham Injury / Suspension News

Carl Jenkinson (can’t play against parent club), Joey O’ Brien (knock), Winston Reid (knock), Matt Jarvis (knock), Pedro Obiang (knock), Andy Carroll (knee) and Enner Valencia (knee)

West Ham Predicted Lineup

West Ham United 4-4-2 football formation

Team Form

Arsenal

  • Last Five Games: W W W W W
  • Last Result: Arsenal 1 (Oxlade-Chamerlain 26′) – Chelsea 0
  • Leading Goalscorer: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (1)

West Ham

  • Last Five Games: W W W D L
  • Last Result: Astra Giurgiu 2 (Budescu 32′, 36′) – West Ham 1 (Lanzini 3′)
  • Leading Goalscorer: James Tomkins, Diafra Sakho (2)

Gooner Daily predicts 3 – 0 to the Arsenal

Sayonara.

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