By Karl M. Tinsley
MY 3 STARS
#1. SAMIR NASRI: Samir delivered much better crosses today into the 18 yard box and did a decent job taking over FK duty for the absent Robin Van Persie. He showed excellent pace on his runs down the left wing as he raced passed his markers and fired in crosses. His dribbling and confidence over the ball is growing by the match. My only regret from his game was he didn’t drop any bombs on the West Ham net this match. Needs to pull the trigger at least twice a match.
#2. ABOU DIABY: HUGE bounce back game after the disaster that was Everton. His effort today was much, much better. He was unlucky not to score on his early header that touched the crossbar. His passing for the most part was clean, he pushed the ball upfield with alot more purpose and alot less of the over-indulgent touches he is prone to display. Still needs to learn how to deliver that final ball that unlocks the defence though and learn how to deliver quality performances consistently.
#3. GAEL CLICHY: Really starting to show off that good chemistry with Nasri that was evident in the early part of the season prior to Nasri picking up that knee injury while training with the French NT. The usual stuff from the HEART of The Arsenal…getting up and down the left wing all match putting pressure on the opponents defence and breaking up their attacks on our net. Still needs to work on his crossing and final ball…but his hustle and committment needs to be emulated by the rest of the squad. IF they all gave themselves to the matches the way Gael does…we would be alot higher up the table than we are right now!!.
KOLO TOURE/WILLIAM GALLAS: They didn’t have alot to do on the defensive side of the ball, that said they did a great job keeping the “in-form” Carlon Cole under wraps. Nice to see Kolo pushing up into the box trying to make things happen offensively…gave the feeling he has his confidence back again. Their “partnership” looked solid at the back and hopefully it is the beginning of a good run of form together that takes us past AS Roma and Aston Villa in the coming months.
EMMANUEL EBOUE: Loved to see the pacy runs with the ball from him again. He did a good job pushing the ball, attacking the 18 yard box with the ball, running at defenders and winning FK’s for the squad. Of course his shooting was woeful and there was the usual dose of sketchy passes thrown in too. BUT i had the feeling the entire time he was on the pitch that he was going to have a hand in leading us to victory. Parker should have seen at least a yellow for low-bridging him at the knee with that tackle. Looked like that right knee (his plant leg) got a nasty tweak in the collision. Hopefully it is just a strain and he is back soon.
NIKLAS BENDTNER: I struggle sometimes to understand the logic of putting Nik in our starting XI. The guy has repeatedly demonstrated for the last 18 months that he does NOT possess the qualities to be a starter for The Arsenal. He is a great substitute when he comes on at 70 mins against tired defenders and when we are pressing for a goal. Carlos Vela really should be given the chance to start over the Dane and then Nik can spell him at 60-65 mins. Bendtner was floating deep all match…picking up the ball and then passing it out to the wing or Sagna to run onto…PROBLEM was…Nik was dishing the ball about 30 yards out from the West Ham net and couldn’t even get into the 18 yard box by the time Sagna was whipping in his crosses. This happened ALL NIGHT. Stop playing like a CAM and start playing like a striker for Christ’s sake!. We had Butta’-legs alone in the box all night with Bendtner absolutely nowhere…ridiculous positioning. He is on the field for his aerial game and he constantly took himself out of this role all match.
ENTIRE SQUAD’S (EXCEPT NASRI) CROSSING: I’ve seen better crossing from High School teams than I did from The Arsenal tonight. Totally wretched service into the box. It is no wonder that Butta’-legs (ADE) game has dried up…the guy is getting nothing in terms of crosses for him to really attack and work with. Unacceptable for a Big Club like Arsenal to not have players who can hit pacy, dipping crosses onto our strikers and other players (Toure, Gallas) that are attacking the 18 yard box. We can’t defend crosses and now we can’t execute them either.
To be honest, I was more worried about this match than I was for the Everton fixture when i looked at our upcoming matches a couple weeks ago.
West Ham had beaten us a few years ago and we had needed late goals to dispose of them last time we played. So, I knew we would need to bring a top shelf performance to ensure 3 pts was earned from this match. It was a weird match because in many regards i felt the team played really well:
1) we had a bright start
2) intent and purpose about their passing
3) clean passing
4) defensively sound
5) willingness to get “stuck-in”
6) good hustle
BUT…in the end we are stuck with the same frustrating result on a weekend when we could have and should have clawed back 2 pts on Aston Villa.
As you can tell by my “crossing” rant (above)…i am feeling very frustrated at the lack of service to our strikers. It is really becoming an issue now.
Up until last Saturday…i was feeling fairly ambivalent about the Arshavin transfer. BUT, after the last 3 matches (Cardiff, Everton and West Ham)…it has become painfully apparent that this team needs some serious help in creativity and technique at CAM and on the wing. I think if we get Arshavin brought in, Nasri needs to go to CAM, Song at CDM and Denilson and Diaby can fight over who gets the other wing. We desperately need the others to really chip in with some goals and assists and start stringing together some wins in the run-up to AS Roma…because right now it is ALL on Robin & Nasri to win every match.
GUNS IN GUNS OUT