In the end, they did it. After 38 games and a...
Arsenal v West Ham; Premier League Match Preview
I hate midweek games. Only because I usually forget I have to write a match preview and then work intercedes. So my apologies if this is brief.
Today’s match is the game in hand we’ve all been waiting for. The tie against West Ham that was “postponed” because of the tube strike on Boxing Day. A win for Arsenal strangely keeps them right in the mix for the Champion’s League spot.
Funny to be saying that considering that last two weeks and the overall performance in January. But they would be. Last season at this point we had 36 points and this season we have 34. Both at their time were and are the worst point totals under Arsene Wenger at this time of year for any of his teams.
There are lots of prevailing reasons why this has happened, but one thing Theo Walcott has said and I believe as well, is that we have given too much respect to our opposition. How that manifests itself is laying off defensive pressing and giving the opposition time to pass and create their own chances.
When Arsenal get a rocket up their asses at halftime and begin to press as a team, the create forced errors and open the likelihood of them getting a chance.
I didn’t comment on Chelsea match because my level of disgust at the first half was maddening. But the second half validates this. When Arsenal decided to close down Chelsea’s space and press, they got more of the ball and were much more likely to control the match then Chelsea. But they spent the first half just letting Chelsea play how they wanted to and because of it they paid for it. Forgot the ref’s stupid calls, we simply didn’t come into the match with hunger.
Arsenal need that to win. They can’t play matches in halves. They need a full 90 minute commitment. I’d like to see that. I think this season the matches where they have had a consistent 90 minute effort has shown how good they can be. It’s only when they’ve taken an opponent lightly (Bradford and Swansea) or given too much respect (Chelsea Swansea and City) that they pay for it.
West Ham don’t offer either an opponent you should respect or take lightly. They are just going to try and knock the snot out of you, especially at across the back four where fouling is a regular occurance. Then they will look to lob the ball over the midfield and try and hook up with either Jarvis or anyone else for a goal.
Arsenal need to win. It’s a winnable match (So was Chelsea). Someone said to me today if we lose today they could see some panic buys in the transfer market to which I replied, if we lose today there had better be some firings. Because 3 losses in a row for a team of Arsenal’s stature is criminal.
Players to Watch:
Arsenal: Whomever lines up in midfield . Diaby is a late fitness test, not because of injury but because of too many minutes in too short a time. Cazorla is gassed. And Jack well, no issues there. So whomever lines up today in the middle of the park will likely be where all eyes are affixed.
West Ham: Diame. If only because if there is transfer business done this January (and I am not convinced there will be), Diame could be auditioning for Arsenal.
Injuries and Suspensions:
Arsenal: Fabianski (back), Gervinho (international duty) Rosicky (calf) Arteta (calf)
West Ham: Collins (hamstring), Chamakh (ineligble), Carroll (knee), McCartney (knee)
Arsenal: Walcott 9
West Ham: Nolan 5
Arsenal: Podolski 6, Walcott 6, Cazorla 6
West Ham: Vaz Te 2, O’Brien 2, McCartney 2, Nolan 2, Taylor 2
Last Meeting (EPL):
West Ham: 1
Arsenal (home): 2.5
West Ham (away): 0.5
Arsenal (home): 1.5
West Ham: (away): 1.4
West Ham: DLWLL
West Ham: – 3
Referee: Andre Marriner. Matches 14, R0 Y49
US: FoxSoccer Channel 2:30 PM EST
UK: Arsenal Player 17.45 GMT
West Ham: 1