Morning greetings, you luminous and cromulent perusers.
I think my stomach in annoyed with me. Were I to liken it to a fictional character right now, I’d say it’s similar to the unhinged unpredictability of Gary Oldman’s villain in Leon: The Professional – I especially imagine shouts of “EVERYONE!!” when I’m being offered biscuits. Currently, there are lots of peculiar gurgles and pangs of discomfort to contend with. Overconsumption is a b*tch.
Mercifully, I’m not writing of a poor result today. To West Ham’s credit, yesterday there was a period of around 20 minutes at the start of the second half when I was sure that’s what I’d be doing. Having weathered something of a storm in the first half, the Hammers came out brightly in the second period, nabbed a fortuitous opening goal and went on to put us under a little pressure. But for profligacy and a touch of fortune, we could very easily have found ourselves 2-0 down.
However, Arsenal showed some mettle to get back into the game. We didn’t panic or lose our shape. We kept plugging away knowing that if we did so the goals would come. And they did. Theo’s equaliser shared as much fortune with West Ham’s opener – I felt for both keepers as what looked easy was made otherwise by the amount of bodies obscuring their views. Granted, both shots should have been dealt with comfortably, but it’s easy to pass judgement from the warmth of your home or the stands.
Once that shot bobbled over the line, the momentum switched at there was only going to be one winner. Lukas Podolski came on and made an instant impact (Let’s hope Ramsey’s thigh injury is not a serious one and only keeps him out for the remainder of the festive period). It’s great to see him back. I’ve stated before that I believe he’s the best finisher at the Club. Lukas has an absolute rocket of a left foot. He put in a great cross for Theo’s second – a header of all things – and clinically finished from Giroud’s intelligent knock-down to add the third. All in all, a excellent comeback at a ground that’s a difficult place to go. Some will say West Ham are relegation fodder and the type of team we should be dispatching with minimal fuss. Perhaps they are, but the beauty of the Premiership is the ability for anyone to beat anyone else of their day. In my eyes, a 3-1 victory after trailing is a superb result and one that puts us right back on top of the table.
Of course, it’s not all sunshine and happiness out there. This is Arsenal, it never is. Once again Olivier Giroud has found himself the brunt of a great deal of petty moaning and squabbling. I don’t dispute he is currently suffering with a lack of form. Constructive criticism is something I’m all for. What gets me is how swiftly a few average/poor performances can make people forget the immeasurably greater amount of good things he’s done, and continues to do.
Do I dispute he could use some help up there? Not at all. Leading the line by yourself is a tough thing to have to do. But we forget he does so through no fault of his own. Olivier works his socks off for the team, he’s unselfish and it’s apparent to anyone watching that he cares. His hold-up play enables others to be brought into attacks and I often state it shouldn’t be overlooked how much sterling work he puts into defending set pieces and corners. His goals and assists ratio is some distance from being appalling, and the miserable sods out there really should cut him some slack. One of the most satisfying things I gleaned from yesterday was hearing our away support sing his name after a miss. That’s exactly what he deserves; to be supported even when things aren’t going his way.
Elsewhere in the team, the game drew an excellent performance from Santi Cazorla. By his own high standards, our little Spanish magician hasn’t been at his best. He was industrious and creative in our midfield, scurrying about making tackles and doing his best to make things happen. Hopefully, this is the time in which he presses forward and we get to see the best of him. We all know just how brilliant he can be. Mikel Arteta’s performance was also brilliant, and very much in the Gilberto Silva vein. His good work breaking up attacks and keeping things ticking over was easy to overlook. I love The Flame to bits, and he still remains my preference for the holding role, but that doesn’t mean I don’t rate Arteta. I do, and he showed that we have two different characters both capable of filling that role in different ways. It’s a good option to have.
All in all, I’m very pleased. West Ham gave us a good game, and it was a test of our credentials. We came through it on the back of a couple of difficult results and we did so with style. As we head towards another tricky away fixture at Newcastle, we can take some heart from knowing this Arsenal team has great spirit and character.
That’s all for today, folks. Seeing as the performances of Olivier Giroud are under such unwarranted scrutiny, I have a question; do you realistically think replacing him in January is a good idea? Securing the services of someone to lighten his workload is a good idea, but bringing in a striker to take his place smacks of the kind of move that could very easily disrupt the harmony of the squad and have an averse effect. Let me know what you think in the oh-so handy comments section below.
As always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.