My second visit of 2019 to the London Stadium also brought home the harrowing fact the in the Premier League era, Arsenal have beaten West Ham more than any other club. But the early kick off normally upsets the apple cart (and the Acca punters) and this game did its bit to keep up that tradition.
Rumours abounded around Arnie. He’s going, he’s staying, his brother is a shit stirrer, allsorts. My take is this. If he wishes to leave to play in empty stadiums, in a league that will also most likely mean he loses his international place as well, just for cash, then good luck to him. He earns more than he can spend already.
Also lets be realistic, if someone offered you twice your wages to do the same job somewhere else, you would take it. Maybe not in China, but at least your head will be turned. He left Stoke quick enough, and we are no different, such is the way of the modern footballer. They chop and change all the time. Reece Oxford is our 5th longest serving player currently !
So Arsenal, Wengerless and let off the leash. 22 game unbeaten runs, new broom, and no win in 4 away from home in the PL.
We started with probably with as good as team as we could, but this was no plucky little West Ham. All the big guns were there with the exception of Balbuena. Ogbonna has scared me this season, and early on did nothing to shake that feeling, as Rice had to get him out of a hole a couple of times as Lacazette gave him the run around. However , once the early nerves went, everyone did their job. Antonio was making the runs down the wing we got used to a few years ago. Diop seemed to get his confidence back (it took a few games with Balbuena as well, obviously doesn’t mix well with others!)
Rice and Noble dominated. Rice especially. I’m not the only one saying every game he gets better, but he does ! We have started passing instead of lumping. Nasri I thought was quiet after reading the report of the previous week but he did nothing wrong. Arnie was quiet, and I’m sure I saw Anderson make a tackle !
Just after half time (0-0), we get a bit of a ricochet ball in the box, which Nasri calmly tees up for Rice, and its top corner , one nil. Declan’s first goal for the senior team on his birthday weekend, 2 weeks after getting a new contract. Arnie take note.
After that , we looked assured and controlled the game. Arsenal had some longer range shots and did actually get the ball in the net twice, but with comically offside attempts. And that was that, no panic, no last hurrah from the opposition. A relatively painless win, except for Arnie who left early to be replaced by Carroll. He applauded all round the stadium as he left the field. I have commentated above on my opinion around this, so that’s that, or is it? Would you pay a potentially injured player 200k a week ?
Carroll looked sharper again, and closed down well, as did Snodgrass when introduced. We finally have a proper squad.
Obviously a lot of the credit has to go to the manager, who had kept banging on about installing a big team mentality into the team. But this needs to translate across to the fans as well. We can live in the past glories of being there just about in the league but always having a say in the title with a couple of big scalps a year or we can become the team that plays in front of 60k every week ,with big players, and expectations to match.
Gary Firmager used to say the worst thing to let loose at West Ham is expectation and back then he was right. But we have to accept that the fan base and the club has changed dramatically over the past few years, and we should now demand this level of team from our board.
MOTM Declan Rice. All day long. Happy birthday !