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West Ham vs Arsenal. Just another dour team.

You might also enjoy: West Ham v Arsenal – the ref watch.  Exclusive to Untold

by Phil Gregory

It’s West Ham vs Arsenal time, with the Gunners going into the game after two concerning results in the cups. 1-1 at Leeds, with Fabregas’ last-gasp penalty grabbing us a draw on what was just “one of those days”. The loss to Ipswich was even more shocking, given the Leeds wake-up call and the fact that Ipswich are struggling.

Such things happen however, and it is very rare that you can have a season of purely the good times. We’ve still got Ipswich at home, a couple of early goals on our own turf and we’ll be fine. What’s important is that the results didn’t cost us much, all mistakes can still be rectified. You can’t do that with a draw in the league.

West Ham are a dour team. Unexciting team, uninspriring manager and no great shakes in the league table either. Nobody expected them to be right in the relegation mix this season and yet they are. I’ve not got much love for the owners Gold and Sullivan, they both seem like absolute planks to be honest. The former was speaking on a Radio 5Live feature on football finance that I listened to last year, which I found absolutely hilarious. Here is the man who, when in charge of Birmingham, thought financial management meant racking up £40m of losses as they sought to guarantee promotion by… err, just keeping their Premier League squad despite Championship revenues. Naturally the gamble paid off, but it’s a highly risky strategy and they were shaky during much of their promotion campaign. Yet Gold was talking about sustainable football finance on the radio. Hmm…

I genuinely dislike the pair of them, they both seem to really like the limelight a little too much.  Constantly in the media during Zola’s reign, it sometimes seemed they were actively trying to undermine him and make his job harder. Pulling the plug on the Sidwell transfer “because Mark Noble is back fit” is simply meddling, it doesn’t fall under their jurisdiction. Talking about the management, their decision to hire Avram Grant is fairly typical of their approach wishy-washy approach. You can just imagine their reasoning: “he did pretty well at Chelsea, and ok at Portsmouth, so let’s give him a go”. That’s pretty well with Mourinho’s squad, and while he won Pompey a few points, he hardly performed miracles. A quick look at his CV (or what you can find of it…) suggests a manager way out of his depth in the Premier League, who got his first job through connections and then got lucky. What a surprise he’s been in the bottom three for two years, now. That’s not a personal attack: I’m sure he’s a nice guy. But can you imagine a top executive getting a job “cos he knows the owner” and then getting two others despite a woeful CV? Only in football.  (Phil – you are in for a surprise when you leave the academic world.  It happens in business every day of the week.   Take banking for instance… )  (Editor removed by security guards at this point with foam pouring out of mouth.)

That is all, of course, highly relevant to our match against West Ham. Ahem. Injuries are related however, so I’ll move onto them. Fabianksi is out with a shoulder inflammation, so we’ll see Szcznesy for this one. The younger of the two Poles has certainly made strides forward this season with appearances in various competitions. It looked like he might’ve been losing patience with a lack of opportunities at one point, but how happy must he be that he decided to extend his Arsenal deal.  Denilson is in the squad after being rated a doubt prior to the game, while Vermaelen, Diaby, Squillaci and Almunia are out. Bacary Sagna is serving the final match of his suspension.

Leading me to expect a line-up of:

Szcznesy

Eboue Djourou Koscielny Clichy

Song Wilshere

Fabregas

Walcott Van Persie Nasri

With only two keepers in the squad, we’d be wise not to take any gambles with the fitness of either of them, so I’m expecting Szcznesy to remain between the sticks. Eboue continues deputising for Sagna, and is certainly someone who needs to improve on his last performance with some notably dodgy defensive work against Ipswich. The centrebacks pick themselves as we don’t have any others, while it is a well-rested Clichy that resumes left back duties.

Song and Wilshere form the defensive shield in front of the back four. The latter has played an enormous amount of games this season and looked jaded against Ipswich so isn’t a sure starter. Further up the field Fabregas playmakes. Nasri and Van Persie come back after their knocks to start wide left and up front, with Theo on the right.

For West Ham, Wayne Bridge has signed on loan in time to be registered, so could well feature.

Needless to say, it is our strongest available line-up. I didn’t expect either of the Leeds or Ipswich results, but in my Leeds preview I mentioned that sometimes a lack of familiarity when you field a partially-changed line-up can disrupt a team. Hopefully with the best available team we can avoid that pitfall, and put together a good result before we suffer a crisis of confidence.

There’s some big players back in the line-up, such as Van Persie and Nasri. Those two are the sort of players who will make a real difference to our quality in the final third, turning an otherwise frustrating 0-0 into one or two nil to the Arsenal. I expect them both to shine given the breather they’ve had, and for a 0-1 to the Arsenal. Not the most bullish of predictions, but we’re playing away and not full of confidence. Three points would be just the tonic to get us back moving.

Who was the first Arsenal player to star in a movie?

Which was the second novel about Arsenal to be published?

Which website openly boasts that it always follows the Arsenal motto 100%?

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12 comments to West Ham vs Arsenal. Just another dour team.

  • Marc

    If you think banking’s bad just look at politics and the public sector where failure seems to be a sure fire route to promotion.

  • Bexxy

    If I could hand pick a match to get us back on track, it would probably be this one.

    West Ham are a mess both on and off the field. I have time for David Gold, but not sidekicks Sullivan and Brady. Could the Sidwell deal have been pulled because Martin O’Neil doesn’t fancy him?

    Could this be Upson’s last match before rejoining us? Might also be worth having a word with Parker while we’re at it.

    West Ham 1-3 Arsenal for me, and same again at Wembley next month 🙂

  • Dark Prince

    I just dont know what type of performance i can expect from Arsenal. Probably this is the most inconsistent performance by Arsenal in recent years. But i hope we can start winning things again.

  • Steve Palmer

    When our first team are playing well, (that’s our best team)we are capable of beating anybody, where our problems are, is our back up players, we need to clear out those that struggle to emulate the player they are replacing, and replace with quality.
    Quite a simple procedure, i don’t know why all clubs don’t do it

  • jervis

    Well, here we go lads, if Arsenal cannot go to West Ham, who by all accounts will now be managerless, and disgracefully asking Avram Grant to take charge of a league game where he is no longer manager, and not find the motivation to win three points, then questions really do need to be asked whether Arsene has lost the dressing room. After recent inept performances, a draw or loss today, would bring that sharply into focus and I fear a changing of the guard with Stratford Hotspurs taking over in London. Come on you Gunners show some desire!

  • Phil

    Steve, at one time your definition would have extended to players such as Fabianski and Song. Im quite glad we didn’t get rid of them back then and instead kept patience, as I’m sure most Gunners are

  • Well Steve, if the player coming is that good, then he’ll want to be playing in every game, rather than just a handful of cup and holiday period league games.

    So his agent says, “is he going to be fringe of mainstream” and when hearing “fringe for a while until he proves himself” he says no thanks, and goes and plays for a lesser team who will put him straight in.

    The way around the problem is what arsenal have invented – world wide scouting and a youth policy to die for.

  • Wrenny

    What exactly does a ‘clearout’ achieve?

    Unless you’re able to replace everyone you remove with a superior player all you’ve done is destroy the depth of the squad, and possibly also damage morale. Not to mention the huge amounts of money involved.

    The suggestion of a clearout is always made after a team has a couple of poor games, and seems to be borne not out of a desire to improve the team but to punish certain players for their performances. It’s an emotional knee-jerk response that makes no rational sense – you do not improve a team by SELLING players.

  • Blimey Jervis… then questions really do need to be asked whether Arsene has lost the dressing room…. I didn’t know we had any Daily Mail journalists on this site.

    No, questions don’t have to be asked, but gibberish and rubbish can be strewn about by those with a vested interest in bringing the club to its knees. The notion that this club or any club or any manager can be judged on one single match is just so silly that I run out of words…

  • Rhys Jaggar

    I must say that the doom and gloom constantly spouted on the net does seem to be a direct result of no-one any longer singing at the ground, after a miserable performance ‘You lazy f***ing w***ers!!’

    It gets the frustation out, the players certainly get the message and then everyone can look forward to the next game with the messages already delivered.

    Presumably all these family-friendly policies mean such vitriolic diatribe, however effective, is no longer tolerated??!!

    Some players need an arm around their shoulders, others need a right bollocking.

    But all the generalised sniping, as opposed to specific dissection of one game before moving on in optimism to the next one, gets us is new rumours that our great friend, Sandro Rosell ‘may be in the market again next summer’.

    Which the BBC thoughtfully posted in their gossip column today…..

  • Wrenny

    Wenger’s job is safe for another week 😉

  • Byo

    @Jervis: Steve Palmer-
    Here we go again with the “clear out”, and “Arsene lost the dressing room” meme again! Don’t you guys ever give it a rest? For me I get tired of having Tony or Phil have to educate you all over again.
    P.S.What PL teams do you manage?