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Victory over The Hammers lines us up against The Potters

January 4, 2010

Phew, that was a bit of a nervy affair wasn’t it? For over 60 minutes until the double substitution we huffed and puffed but could not break down well organised, hard working Hammers and if that wasn’t for introduction of impressive Diaby and Nasri, we would probably find it very hard to get anything out of this game after they managed to beat our one man offside trap and put one past exposed Fabianski. Something tells me our Polish goalie will not have Sly on his Christmas card list after getting exposed again in a FA Cup tie!

Yesterday I said it would be curious to see what sort of team will be selected to take on West Ham in the FA Cup 3rd round game. There was quite lot of heated discussions on whether we do or we don’t care enough about this particular competition, which might have lost a bit of its old glamour, but still brings plenty of joy to football fans and is capable of giving us one or two romantic moments. Yesterday certainly brought one of these in the shape of once mighty Leeds United currently languishing in League One giving the Ol’ Red Nose’s team a bloody nose: SAF complaining about not enough injury time added on – priceless. What goes around comes around, Sir. It’s called karma and she’s a bitch 😆

The lineup suggested we were dead serious about progressing to the next round – the only ‘irregularity’ in the back four was Silvestre who surprisingly captained the mostly senior side and played in the left back position. The fact of players like Gallas not getting rest was quite unexpected, all things considered: we play Bolton on Wednesday, I guess AW must think out defence will not have their work cut out against them, since they are normally the ones who come to Emirates to frustrate us by keeping 10 men behind the ball and counting on occasional break.

In the midfield we saw Merida given a rare start beside Song and Ramsey. As much as I like the fella, this must have been one of his worst games for Arsenal – he had a real mare with plenty of misplaced passes and  poor set pieces, which resulted in AW putting him out of his misery to replace him with in-form Diaby. I have guessed our front three right, but for some reason Eduardo started on the left with Vela in the middle and Jackie Boy taking the spot on the right. A word on our little prodigy – I seriously hope he will get a loan move soon, as he has gone off the boil a little due to lack of playing time against the real opposition. Yesterday he looked like he needs it badly after being promoted to the senior squad where he is not getting anywhere near the amount of minutes he played last season while he was very much a part of our successful youth setup. Like Merida, he was substituted in the 65th minute and this is when we started fighting back with some real bite.

Until then, we did not do a lot, did we? Yes, we dominated the proceedings in the first half, but did not offer any serious threat to Green’s goal – a few tame shots, most of them straight at their keeper, a string of very ineffective corners and in the dying minutes, just as the commentary said something regarding WHU being ‘reasonably happy’ about being level at the break, it turned out that they had other ideas. Conceding a goal right before the whistle is always a blow and this one was no different – they seemed to have come out flying in the second half and seemed hell-bent on killing the game off. For the best part of first 20 minutes in the second half they looked the better team and it did not look like we had the answers. This piece from club website says it all:

Nasri and Diaby are both warming up, do Arsenal need to change things here? If I’m honest West Ham look more likely to score the next goal in this game.

Cue the aforementioned double substitution and inspired comeback – all of the sudden things started clicking and we finally looked like we were right in it: our movement and passing began to be more accurate and purposeful and their players started resorting to some ol’ time wasting antics, which left our travelling fans and AW unimpressed. One of these was Green after being forced to make a double save from Diaby and Song who was impressive again and will be sorely missed during the ACN.

Whilst their idea in doing this was to try and  break our stride, it was only enough to delay the inevitable. They say the cream always rises to the top, and this time was no different – just six minutes later we finally managed to break them down. Vela received Song’s pass on the edge of the WHU box and fed Ramsey who hit it with power and venom past hapless Green. Second sweet strike in as many games with his ‘weaker’ foot and another MOTM award – this guy will be something else. We got the winning goal just five minutes later when Vela crossed into the box for Eduardo to somehow outjump nearly three inches taller Upson and head the ball into the top corner. Green might have just got his fingertips to it, but it wasn’t enough and sparked ‘England’s,  England’s number six’  chants from jubilant Gooners seated behind his goal. He got beaten by Vela one more time, only for Daprela to clear it off the line. There were a few more good efforts by Dudu and Ramsey with the former putting the smart header over the bar and the latter seeing his late blast saved by the Englishman.

Subsequent 4th Round draw paired us with Stoke City at Britannia Stadium. This may be an interesting one, with vital fixtures coming thick and fast right afterwards. A lot will depend on our injury situation as well as on what kind of new signings we will or will not get before then. More on the latter tomorrow. Thank you for reading 😉

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