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Arsenal 2-1 West Ham: Nketiah Delivers Sucker Punch

Dani Ceballos and Eddie Nketiah combine for winning goal against Arsenal  against West Ham a week on from bust-up before Fulham game

Match ReportMatch HighlightsPost-Match Press Conference

Final Result: Arsenal 2-1 West Ham (Lacazette 25′, Nketiah 86′ – Antonio 45′)

Arsenal XI (3-4-3): Leno; Holding, Gabriel, Kolasinac; Bellerin, Ceballos, Xhaka, Saka (D. Luiz 89′); Willian (Pepe 64′), Lacazette (Nketiah 77′), Aubameyang

The fans expected more from the team following the convincing victory over Fulham last week, and they faced a West Ham side bereft of confidence after their poor showing against Newcastle at the London Stadium. There was a cause for concern at the start of the game when Kieran Tierney pulled up short and had to be replaced by Sead Kolasinac shortly before kickoff. The gaffer confirmed in his post-match press conference that it was a small muscular problem and Tierney complained about it before a decision was made to replace him in the matchday squad. 

For some strange reason best known to Lord Voldemort and his cohorts, Arsenal put up a very disjointed performance early on, misplacing passes, engaging in sloppy play and in all honesty, the opening goal seemed to come against the run of play, with some good attacking play on our favored left hand side saw our contract signing club talisman, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang loft in a sumptuous cross that was headed home by Alexandre Lacazette. It was a relief for Lacazette as he had spurned an early chance created by Willian in the beginning stages of the game.

The equalizer for the visitors came at the stroke of half time when a non-existent midfield did nothing to stop the attacking threat from the Hammers and Bukayo Saka was caught in No Man’s Land as Jarrod Bowen and Hendricks charged down on Kolasinac before executing a neat cut back that was buried aplomb by Michail Antonio. Rob Holding had a disappointing night and should have done better to close down the West Ham forward but it was not to be as both teams went into the break level. One would have expected Arsenal to come out firing on all cylinders in the second half but it was West Ham that had the better chances with Antonio clipping the cross bar with a header and the Arsenal defense continued to be barraged by the visitors.

Mikel Arteta responded with some attacking changes, bringing on Nicolas Pepe for a clearly jaded Willian and Eddie Nketiah for Lacazette. Despite his goal, he had one of those frustrating nights where his blushes were spared by a teammate replacing him. The move turned out to be a stroke of genius as Nketiah turned to be Arsenal’s match winner after some brilliant work from Saka and Dani Ceballos. The Real Madrid man returning for his second loan spell fed Saka and drifted into the danger area, only to be located by a special pass from the youngster but he had the presence of mind to see Nketiah on the clear before feeding him on a platter.

The score line clearly didn’t show a true reflection on how things fared in the game but we are on the back of two wins from two games, sitting pretty at the top of the Premier League. Yes, we are under no illusions but it is a very good position to be bearing in mind that the club has a tough run of fixtures. However, we have to give credit to the lads for not giving up, even if they didn’t perform on the level expected of them.

More on the Liverpool game in the coming weeks.

Sayonara

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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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