Good signs from the Arsenal

Santiago Cazorla made his presence felt in the match more than this image suggests, as he went on to score again from the spot.
Santiago Cazorla made his presence felt in the match more than this image suggests, as he went on to score again from the spot.

It seems as if the first time in an eternity that we have had a former player-turned-misfit have an uneventful game against us. In the space of three days, we’ve had two: Traore and Song, although just barely: Song’s disallowed goal could have just as easily stood. All mirth aside, yesterday’s game was played in a neutral’s paradise. The play switched frantically from one end to the other in a frenetic mishmash of overzealous bodies hurtling at a meteoric pace. The last half hour was worth the price of admission as the Hammers asked serious questions of the Arsenal backline; it was seemingly a minor miracle that we escaped with maximum points.

As expected, it was cagey in the early stages, despite the controversy surrounding Song’s disallowed pile-driver. The complexion of the game changed in ten manic minutes surrounding the half when Santi converted confidently from the spot after being tripped in the box, only for “that guy Welbz to capitalise on Ox’s brilliant cross. Kouyate’s header changed ultimately stepped the match up a gear though, as the hosts clawed their way back into contention.

The deficiencies of the team are obvious: today’s lesson being that we were constantly exploited from wide areas. That being said, I prefer to focus on the positives, as there were a lot today. We were irrepressible in attack; it’s frightening to think what we could have done had Giroud been on the pitch. Welbeck, Santi, Alexis and Ox all put in a good shift, with all them all terrorising Adrian in the Hammers’ goal in the second half. It seems of late Wenger is getting a clearer picture of his ideal recipe for a fluent offense. Mertesacker has shown a marked improvement from his shambolic displays of late. Koscielny was back and added life to a crumbling back line, Nacho wasn’t bad and Debuchy acquitted himself well.

Alexis and Santi were a joy to watch together; the Chilean’s appetite for the game is infectious. Credit to the hosts, who justified their position in the table with their performance today. Carroll was a constant menace, while Downing made incisive passes to good effect. The Hammers were also able to collectively flood Flamini and Coquelin, who had their work cut out for them. If the Hammers consolidate this kind of form, European football next year looks a distinct possibility. Arsenal on the other hand is clearly in need of defensive reinforcements in the upcoming window. Despite that, Wenger’s boys looked a lot more dangerous than I’ve seen them in some time. Let’s see if they keep it going against the Saints on New Year’s Day.

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