Three Things learned from West Ham United 1 – 2 Arsenal
Arsenal beat West Ham at the London stadium by 2 goals to 1 in a game that mathematically ruled the Hammers out of contention for the top 4. The Gunners remain two points ahead Spurs in fourth, with four games remaining but more importantly the final North London derby, quickly approaching on the horizon. Up until then, the tasks for both teams seems obvious. Keep pace with one another.
With one more game week to go until then, things are finely balanced. Here are three key takeaways from Arsenal’s victory over their London rivals.
Struggle to build through the thirds apparent
When the starting line up was announced and Ben White was ruled out through injury. Arsenal were also robbed of their most forward thinking and press resistant defender. It culminated in a first half which encouraged West ham to squeeze onto the North Londoners and it was fairly even. Rob Holding for all his brilliance in a deep block is not always the most progressive. Tomiyasu, was solid in his first start for 3 months. The Japanese full back, although technically competent can be left wanting going forward.
The result of this was the right hand side had less opportunities to go forward and function as a unit. Bukayo Saka and Martin Odegaard were fairly quiet until the game became a more open affair. An addition of a more proactive presence such as Sambi Lokonga possibly, may now be necessary to break the safety net of the first third triumvirate of Holding, Elneny and Tomiyasu in future games. Ben White’s continued availability is crucial. There is more fluency to be had from this group.
Eddie Nketiah can be Arsenal’s Origi
Nketiah has grabbed his chance with both hands. The Hale Ender ran the channels and came short, he was secure technically and threatened in behind. Previous weaknesses are being offset by the fact he is a genuine threat in every game he is running out in for Arsenal. The watching Jermain Defoe approved and Graeme Souness called him “the best player on the pitch.”
He is drawing parallels for me with Liverpool’s Divock Origi. A player well versed in the fundamentals of the side, good reliable performer and squad member. Jurgen Klopp handles that dynamic expertly and has a player who scores in all the big games and will always be a favourite of the Liverpool faithful. I believe Eddie is similar in that he’s been coached the Arsenal way and knows it well. He needs to show that he can continue delivering for the Gunners in the last few games of this season. It is almost certain he will depart in the summer but he will have a place in many Gooners hearts’, if he can help bring another St Totteringham’s day to existence.
Congratulations Nicolas Jover
Arsenal’s set piece coach Nicolas Jover deserves immense credit. Apart from the absurd record of Arsenal not conceding from a corner up until the recent game against Southampton. The North Londoners are now a threat in the opposition box on set-pieces. So much so that Rob Holding scored his first Premier league goal.
As said earlier, goals change games. A game state where Arsenal are in the lead and the opposition need to come out suits the Gunners. They do not always reliably play with enough verve to break down teams from open play. The Rob Holding and Gabriel goals helped make this an easier game because West Ham were weary of over exerting themselves before their vital Europa League Semi-Final second leg against Eintracht Frankfurt.
Congratulations Nicolas Jover you have successfully added a potent dimension to Arsenal this season.
Coming out of the international break and losing three matches on the trot, Arsenal seemingly looked out of control of their Champions League destiny. That narrative is completely gone as whether or not the Gunners return to the biggest competitive stage of the season is solely down to their performances.
Next weekend is an important weekend to that end. With Arsenal at home versus Leeds and Tottenham squaring off against Liverpool, positive results for the Gunners and Scousers would Arsenal head into the North London Derby with a 5 point lead over the London rivals and a chance to cinch Champions League at their stadium.
Three weeks ago, this possibility seemed lost to this side. Now its all back in their court with it all to play for. If you had this on your bingo card after the first three games of the season, could you let us know your picks for the lottery?