Sunday, March 15

Kicked up the Arsenal (again)

Matt, Michael and Lisa arrive at the Library
Arsenal 3 West Ham 0

There’s an ominous start to the day as even Fraser has gone down with injury, though we're not sure if a teacup is involved. So it’s down to myself, Matt, Lisa and Michael The Fan of the World’s Longest-Running Science Fiction Serial Whose Name I Forget. After cups of tea at my gaff we arrive at the Emirates to discover Matt Jarvis has grown a beard during his extensive spell on the bench. We later learn that Adrian has dislocated a finger in the warm-up but bravely plays on.

Arsenal start off dangerously with Walcott running on to Ozil’s flick and Collins robbing him with what at the time appears to be a great tackle, though looking at the replays it looks like it might have been a penalty. But West Ham defend well for the first 15 minutes and Jarvis is having some joy on the left. Noble plays a great pass through the defence to Jarvis, who crosses for Noble to connect well with a volley that Ospina scoops wide of the post.

The West Ham fans enjoy themselves by singing “We hate Tottenham more than you!” and  “Big Fat Sam went to Barcelona in a Ford Fiesta/He came back with Alex Song and said f**k off Iniesta!

The rest of the half sees a series of Arsenal chances. Chambers crosses for Ramsey to prod towards the roof of the net only for Adrian to tip it over. The Hammers’ custodian then produces decent saves from Walcott and a Sanchez volley. He then parries an Ozil effort towards Walcott who slices wide.

The half moves into added time and just as it looks like a good defensive performance will see us go in level Arsenal produce yet more high-tempo tippy tappy stuff from Ozil and co, as Giroud takes the ball off Ramsey and powers a great cross shot into the net. Nothing the heroic Adrian could do about that. Bugger.

West Ham at least have a go at Arsenal for the first 30 minutes of the second half. A Jarvis cross sees the ball stuck a couple of feet from the Arsenal line, but it’s scrambled clear. Sakho, alone up front, wins a corner with no support from the midfield as Big Sam goes mental on the touchline. From the corner a clearance lands at the feet of Jarvis who volleys horribly over.

Referee Chris Foy has to go off injured, inspiring a great chant from the West Ham fans of “You’re not fit to referee!”

Ramsey shoots wide for the Gunners. Alex Song, aided by Noble, is having a fine game in midfield but we need to get something from this dominant spell. Instead WHU produce a series of botched short corners, an overhit free kick into the arms of Ospina and a series of Jarvis and Downing crosses that fail to find their man.

We know Arsenal will suddenly up a gear. Song misplaces a pass and Collins has to retrieve the situation by booting the ball away for a throw-in. From the throw Giroud is too quick thinking for our defence, producing a clever dummy and playing a one-two with Aaron Ramsey for the midfielder to prod home on 81 minutes.

‘Two-nil and you still don’t sing!” chant the away fans, morphing effortlessly into “Three-nil and you still don’t sing!” as a six-man moves ends with Cazorla crossing and the unmarked Flamini drifting into score at the back post.

Kouyate at least makes a late surge from defence to fire over and at the final whistle takes the trouble to walk over to the West Ham fans and give his shirt away. Arsenal look a quality side, but when we’ve had chances with corners, free kicks and crosses we’ve failed to produce any quality.

We walk back to May Mansions where north London is full of beer, beer and more beer (and crisps and peanuts), which is at least a notch up on the Central. We’re up against a team that has just lost 4-0 at home next week. What could possibly go wrong?

TEAM RATINGS: Adrian 8; O’Brien 5, Collins 6, Kouyate 6, Cresswell 5; Jarvis 6 (amalfitano 5), Nolan 5, Song 7, Noble 6 (Nene 5), Downing 5; Sakho 6.

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