Rambo Hammers West Ham
FA Cup 3rd Round
West Ham United 1 – 2 Arsenal
1 – 0 Diamanti (45)
1 – 1 Ramsey (78)
1 – 2 Eduardo (83)
Two goals in the final twelve minutes turned a looming FA Cup exit into progress and a visit to The Potteries in the 4th round. It was not a vintage performance with the reshuffled Arsenal side seeing plenty of the ball but during the first half, struggling to make telling use of the ball in the final third of the pitch.
Wenger had been criticised for making use of the squad before the match but the defenders chosen were strong and experienced, few options available with Philippe Senderos failing a pre-match fitness test. Elsewhere, an experience gathering exercise was underway, Merida and Ramsey in the midfield with Song whilst Vela played further forward alongside Wilshere and Eduardo.
A largely forgettable first half contained vague threats from Arsenal. Ramsey had a shot deflected over whilst Green was comfortable in saving from Merida and Eduardo. West Ham huffed and puffed, provided sporadic threats but rarely called Fabianski into action in the first half. The Pole was confident in his area, Diamanti bringing out a good save when given too much room by Silvestre.
With the half-time whistle looming, the Italian made a breakthrough. Behrami, West Ham’s best player on the afternoon, put Diamanti through and despite Fabianski getting a hand to it, the shot found the back of the net.
Arsenal stepped up a gear in the second half but in the early stages, West Ham had the clearer opportunities, Stanilas forcing Fabianski to make another excellent stop. Yet with the hour marked passed, Wenger moved to Plan B, introducing Diaby and Nasri into the fray at the expense of Wilshere and Merida. This, with a tiring home defence, invigorated the side, Vela in particular making hay by playing further to the left than previously, stretching the game to Arsenal’s benefit.
Green had to make a double save from Diaby and Song, a warning of the storm about to crash onto West Ham’s shore. It took just over ten minutes for the impact Wenger desired. Song battled his way to the edge of the area, Vela jabbed the loose ball through to Ramsey, the Welshman spinning and firing low across Green and into the net. A well-deserved goal for Ramsey, a much-needed equaliser.
The match was an almost carbon-copy of the visit to Liege, the deficit smaller but the momentum swinging firmly into Arsenal’s favour nonetheless. The winner came with seven minutes to go. Vela delivered a telling cross from the left, Eduardo leapt Salmon-like, to arch the ball past the sprawling dive of Green. 2 – 1 and the myth of how tall centre backs are invincible in English football, Upson rendered impotent by his lack of athleticism in the jump allied with Eduardo’s determination to win the header.
A regular criticism is that Arsenal are unable to close out a game when it matters, a one-goal lead never enough. Yesterday, that lie collapsed, left dazed and bemused in a crushing heap. West Ham were denied time, space, useful possession and penned back regularly in their own half in the remaining minutes. Not having the ball is a problem in trying to retrieve a situation; not being able to get it, a sign that your opponents know what they are doing.
Wilshere and Merida are the scapegoats of the day. They had afternoon’s to forget on the whole; both were off the pace, their lack of minutes on the pitch beforehand showing through. Rectifying that in a short space of time is not going to happen at Arsenal. Loan moves for both would be beneficial in promoting their Arsenal careers.
The Spaniard is of course, being beaten by the stick of his as of yet unsigned contract. Presumably he is waiting for the offers to come in now that he is free to talk to other clubs. Memories of Flamini, to a lesser extent, presumably drive the irrational complaints over his performance, the same people no doubt criticising Wenger for not pushing the player into the first team following his Carling Cup and Champions League performances.
Wilshere on the other hand seemed curiously lax in touch. Confidence drained from him when he made a key defensive error, further seeping away when opting to shoot. It is hard to criticise a player for doing exactly what Arsenal as a team are lambasted frequently for. Both players will learn from the day, using it as a positive influence on their respective careers will be key to that education.
Very real positives came from Fabianski, Ramsey, Eduardo and Vela. Goalkeepers at Arsenal are regularly in the line of fire; Fabianski bucked that trend with a strong performance yesterday, in much the same way that Mannone did earlier in the season when called upon. Eduardo continues to grow in confidence, similarly Vela. Both pulled West Ham across the forward line with a goal doing the Croat’s confidence no harm at all, 3 in the last 4 games for him, a sign that he is recovering his goalscoring form in an injury-disrupted season.
Vela flatters to deceive at times. A question mark over him playing centrally exists at the moment, his slight frame making him tricky to mark but relatively easy to stifle in that position, physically. On the left yesterday, he proved his worth, particularly in the second half. His crossing was excellent, suggesting that he may make more headway in getting regular appearances through that avenue.
But once more, the spotlight falls on Aaron Ramsey, following his dominant performance at Fratton Park with another at West Ham, adding goals into his repetoire increasing his threat. He and Fabregas are similar in many respects but at the moment, the Spaniard’s vision raises him above the crowd. Ramsey can follow suit but on this form, replacing his captain for the short-term is not an issue at all.
Wenger spoke of his envy of Ferguson and United’s cup exit, freeing up a weekend before the second phase of the Champions League. Some mischief in his words no doubt, loosely sprinkling salt into injured United wounds. The headaches he faces are those which managers are supposed to relish; a lot of fixtures and players fighting for places in the squad and an FA Cup 4th round tie to fit into a crowded fixture list, a sign that things are moving in the right direction.
Posted on January 4, 2010, in Arsenal, FA Cup, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer, Transfer Gossip and tagged Arsenal, FA Cup, Football, Premier League, Soccer, West Ham. Bookmark the permalink. 168 Comments.