Monday, January 17, 2011

West Ham: It's So Easy

West Ham 0-3 Arsenal

Hard to read too much into this one, although winning away games 3-0 certainly isn't a bad habit to develop.

West Ham were without Scott Parker, and then lost Mark Noble to an early injury, so their midfield had no teeth, and Arsenal took control.

The opener was scored with almost embarrassing ease. Wilshere worked the ball wide to Walcott, who was given an eternity of time by Wayne Bridge. Walcott advanced to the edge of the box and slipped a sideways pass in to Nasri, who dummied brilliantly. Van Persie swung his lesser used, but strangely effective, right foot, and the finish was exemplary.

There were, however, some hairy moments. Djourou's poor back pass meant Szcesny had to save, and there were other sloppy moments at the back. Going forward, Arsenal met little resistance. Walcott got in behind but snatched at the bouncing ball. Van Persie was released by Nasri but could only continue his long-standing love affair with the woodwork. Then Clichy chipped the Dutchman in behind, he pulled back low from the bye line, and Walcott ghosted in on Bridge's blind side to smash in the second with his left foot.

Arsenal started the second half keeping effortless possession- at one point the figures read 80% to the away side. But they got sloppy again for a period, when they might really have built up the goal difference. West Ham never had the ingenuity to engineer any real openings. They played like a team who want their manager sacked.

Eventually, Arsenal roused themselves enough to properly kill the game with a third. Bridge completed a hat-trick of goal costing errors. This time he was beaten to a loose ball by Walcott on the left-hand edge of West Ham's penalty area, and chopped his tormentor down. Fabregas left the penalty to Van Persie, who finished clinically to Green's right.

Arsenal won handsomely despite a couple of our recent star performers having relatively poor games. Little went right for Nasri. And Djourou had a few hesitant moments.

It's a thin line between relaxed and lax. Djourou has a composed, almost laid-back style that inspires confidence when he plays well, but he can struggle with his concentration at times. He is pretty inexperienced, though, in terms of actual games played, despite having been around quite a while. A player similar in style, Rio Ferdinand, suffered similar problems early in his career- supremely talented, but sometimes too casual. For Ferdinand, focus came with experience. If Djourou's career follows the same trajectory, Arsenal may soon have a great defender on their hands.

Probably the biggest plus: Van Persie looking more mobile, more dangerous. His form and fitness will be vital.

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