Sublime Arsenal must build on their performances
Arsenal finally woke up. After several games spent struggling for fluency, the performance against West Ham on Wednesday was a refreshing change. Against Manchester City and then Chelsea, poor play and a lack of motivation in the first half had put the team on the back foot, whilst they struggled through the two FA Cup games against Swansea.
January 25th, 2013
This time round Arsenal still conceded first but – unlike the Man City and Chelsea games – they woke up and took control of the game. The speed of passing was unlike anything produced by this Arsenal side in recent times, and allowed them to constantly threaten the West Ham defence.
Walcott, Giroud, Podolski and Cazorla combined well. With Wilshere and Ramsey making up the rest of midfield, this talented group began to show what Wenger has surely been waiting for.
Podolski’s equaliser in the first half was sublime; a wonderfully hit shot after a lovely pass from Wilshere. His left foot is developing a fearsome reputation, and while not always a top performer, against West Ham he was excellent.
Giroud’s goal from Walcott’s corner was particularly refreshing, as it was almost certainly rehearsed and worked to devastating effect; Mertesacker making a run which created space for him to shoot at the near post. So often Arsenal corners have been disappointing; this side are now looking to make more use of them.
Cazorla’s backheeled goal was fantastic and a wonderful bit of team play, followed up within minutes by Walcott and another Giroud goal. All in all it was a strong home performance and was exactly what the club required: an emphatic victory.
The team remain sixth in the league, but are clinging on tantalisingly close to Everton, one point ahead on 38, and Tottenham sit just four points away on 41 in fourth place. Each time this side has had the chance to overtake those teams this season they have failed to deliver. However, they remain within touching distance, and this provides hope that with a good run the final standings will at least be acceptable.
Undoubtedly there has always been quality in this team and they linked well against West Ham. The challenge, though, is always consistency. Wenger must know that Arsenal need to build on this result now as we move closer to crunch time in all competitions.
James writes about Arsenal onArsespeak.com where you can find many more in-depth analytical articles on tactics, statistics and players.