Arsenal v West Ham United, Match Preview
Ah, Sam Allardyce how we have missed you. You’re colorful banter with Arsene Wenger was sorely missed last season. Your self-belief that the Neanderthal style of football you espouse to is good enough to land you the Real Madrid job, was humor we’ve just been missing these last few months. It’s good to have you back.
Arsenal travel across London to take on the newly promoted Claret and Blue of West Ham United. The funny thing about this incarnation of West Ham is that right now, they sit 2 points above Arsenal in the table and a lot of pundits are picking the ‘bubble-boys’ to do one on Arsenal.
Any team managed by Sam Allardyce has been a prickly one for Arsenal to deal with. As we mentioned, he espouses a more physical brand of football and one that lived by the moto – When playing Arsenal you have to get extra physical because they don’t like it. It’s the same moto Tony Pulis lives by and it’s the same moto that excuses the antics of players who are trying to give a little more when playing Arsenal.
The key focus of the game from both sides is how effectively Arsenal handle crosses and set-pieces. Arsenal have yet to concede a goal from open play. But get a free kick, cross or corner and there become issues.
Have Arsenal spent enough time this week fixing assignments and understanding to make sure that the coverage mistakes from last week are taken care of. Part of that should be answered with the return of Per Mertesacker to the lineup. Additionally, I’d also start Giroud. Not so much for scoring but when he’s back in the box helping out on corners – you have a strong aerial player that can likely go body for body with the likes of Andy Carroll.
Giroud needs to get off the mark scoring wise but he is much more of a complete player than the likes of Marouane Chamakh who he is wrongly being compared to. He can win balls for teams when everyone is back defending. We’ll need him in the lineup against a side that will likely test our set piece frailties.
Arsenal took a step in the right direction to put the loss to Chelsea behind them when the dispatched Olympiacos in the midweek. Now they will get a chance to further leave it behind by getting back to their winning ways.
The Gunners have only lost once in their last 11 away games with a record of 6W 4D and 1L. They also enjoy a significant amount of success versus West Ham. And even with the supposed return of our defensive frailties (over-stated in my estimation) the club still boast the second-least amount of goals conceded next to last week’s winner Chelsea.
In the era of Wenger no one has been more annoying to the Arsenal manager then Sam Allardyce. But Sam may find that is not the Arsenal he remembers when he last played them. And don’t make any mistake about it – Sam wants his players physical. Last week his team became the first team in the Premier League era to get 8 yellow cards in one game. But there are players in Arsenal that aren’t as soft as he remembers and they are much harder to get off the ball then they have in the past.
If Arsenal manage to get the win, as I suspect they will, it will be Arsene Wenger’s 350th in the Premier League.
How the match should play out:
Being patient works to an extent but QPR v West Ham tried to be patient and West Ham jumped on them to a 2-0 lead with a more up tempo style of play than is normally linked to a Sam Allardyce club. However, when QPR switched things up and became more direct they became problematic for West Ham. While Arsenal still like to be fancy with the ball there is a tendancy for more direct, attacking play that is not typical of Arsenal. Look for Arsenal to try and set the pace and style of play. It’s that which will likely drive the outcome of this match. If Arsenal can set the way the match will go early and snatch a goal within the first 15, its a game that favors Arsenal. If Arsenal decide to play a patient game and let the home side have the best of the ball look for issues to arise.
Players to Watch:
Arsenal. Santi Cazorla. Wasn’t at his best last week vs. Chelsea. This will be his first experience against a Sam Allardyce managed team, Sam will try and have his boys knock the Spanaird off his game If he stays on his game he will create all sorts of problems for the home side.
West Ham. Andy Carroll. Word is that he still faces a late fitness test to be the starter. If he is fit he starts and he provides Sam’s boys with a big, strong target up front.
Projected Starting XI:
Injuries and Suspensions:
Arsenal: Diaby (thigh) Fabianski (shoulder) Rosicky (hamstring) Sagna (match fitness) Szczesny (ankle) Wilshere (match fitness)
West Ham: O’Brien (hamstring) Reid (concussion) Collison (knee) Diarra (thigh)
Arsenal: Gervinho 3
West Ham: Nolan 3
Arsenal: Cazorla 2
West Ham: Vaz Te 2
Arsenal (away): 1
West Ham (Home): 1.7
Arsenal (away): 0.3
West Ham: (home): 0.3
West Ham: LWDDW
West Ham: 2
Referee: Phil Dowd. Matches: 3, R1 Y8.
US: Fox Soccer Channel 12:30 PM
UK: ESPN UK 17.30 GMT
GAMEDAY CHAT: It’s Open!!!!!!
West Ham: 1
The Final Word.
I don’t make it habit of calling out former Arsenal players in this blog but god, Ashley Cole has once again proven how stupid he really is.
Today, the FA released a statement how it came to the decision to ban John Terry 4 games. In short they found the statements and evidence provided by Terry and his surrogates unbelievable. And they insinuated that Cole was untruthful.
Ashley promptly took to twitter and proclaimed that the FA were “a bunch of twats.” Well, remove for a minute that they are a bunch of twats from the occasion and if this were any business other than sport, Cole would’ve committed would could best be classified as career suicide. As it is he now has to act all contrite and demur (which we know he’s not) in order to convince the FA that he deserves to be called up to the national team again.
I am amazed at how stupid players can be. Especially the lot over at Stamford Bridge. It really is a case of egos gone wild. And it’s also why I like Theo Walcott. Contract issues aside this is a kid who is well grounded and lives a life so different from any other star player that I really just hope he stays just to say he’s ours. Our good guy.
In the mean time, thousands of PR flaks in London heard the “cha-ching” of the cash register at the thought of them taking on Cole to help restore his shitty image to be just crappy. Because didn’t you know, that every time a Chelsea player speaks, a PR flak earns their wings.
Until next time. Stay Goonerish!