By Walter Broeckx
Arsenal made two changes compared to the side that beat Chelsea 1-0 to win the Community Shield.
Debuchy came in at right back in the pace of Bellerin and upfront we had Giroud in the place of Walcott. And maybe one surprising name on the bench… Alexis.
The team that started: Cech, Debuchy, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Coquelin, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ozil, Cazorla, Giroud.
On the bench: Ospina, Gibbs, Gabriel, Chambers, Arteta, Walcott,Alexis.
In the first minute a bit of a late tackle on Özil but Atkinson ignores it. But he makes for that when Noble first slips and then launches at Coquelin and he pulls out a correct yellow card. And another card comes out minutes later when Ogbbonna brings down Oxlade-Chamberlain. The resulting free kick is deflected off the wall in to a corner. Koscielny’s header goes over the crossbar. Oxlade-Chamberlain with a volley but the ball flies a meter over the crossbar. Kouyaté with a tackle on the bal but also clamping the leg of Ramsey. WHU surely know shy of any kicking in the opening 15 minutes. No score after 15 minutes and two deserved yellow cards against West Ham United players.
West Ham a first time with a something that looks dangerous when Payet can keep the ball in play but nobody at the end of his cross. Well no WHU player. Tomkins chops down Giroud but no card this time from the ref. Arsenal with all the possession and attacking but some passing not up to the required standard so far. Coquelin with a great steel and cross to Giroud but his attempt is blocked by a defender. The Ox with a great run from his own half but Cazorla can only put his cross over the crossbar. Still 0-0 after 30 minutes.
But it could have been better the next minute but the diverted shot from Ramsey hits the crossbar. We are getting closer. Per almost can score from a corner but Adrian who completely missed the cross is lucky that the ball bounces back in his arms. Tomkins with a hack on Monreal and now he gets the deserved yellow card. Arsenal pressing and just like last year in this match just not able to find the opening. Last year Giroud did it in the last minute of the first half. Can we do it again? Cazorla with a ball to Giroud but he was just judged offside but the keeper saved it in two times. The ref then gives a free kick for a high foot from Ramsey (rather soft as away from the player) but the free kick is floated in and Cech comes alte and Kouyaté heads it in. 0-1 to West Ham after 43 minutes.
Özil immediately with a chance but his effort is blocked and the rebound from Debuchy is also blocked. Completely against the run of play but Arsenal go in 0-1 behind at half time.
Giroud working on the flanks a lot at the start of the second half and nobody close enough when Adrian spills a cross. Özil with a cross to Giroud but he fires it in the side net. Theo Walcott making himself ready to come on. Oxlade-Chamberlain with a cross to Giroud but Adrian can save his low shot. And then suddenly Zarate with a low shot at the other end and it goes in. 0-2 after 56 minutes. Arsenal losing the ball just in front of their own penalty area costing them dear. Theo comes on for Coquelin.
A header from a free kick but straight at the keeper from Mertesacker. After 66 minutes Alexis came on for Debuchy. All or nothing and as we had nothing for the moment the only thing one can do. Not what he wanted to do at the start of the match I think. Theo on the right and the Ox covering behind him and Alexis on his left flank will have been the tactic now. But first Monreal get a yellow card for a clumsy tackle on Noble. West Ham taking all their time to waste as much time as possible now.
A corner ends up in front of Alexis but it is blocked by a defender. Koscielny with a back header but this time Cech is first on the ball. A shot from Alexis is somehow blocked and kicked away. Giroud and Tomkins clash with their heads and this ends a possible chance for Arsenal as the ref has to stop the match. The long injury lay off broke the tempo from Arsenal a bit. Sakho on the counter but his low shot was saved by Cech. Arsenal with a few half chances but each time a leg or a body from West Ham in the way and a shot from Oxlade-Chamberlain in the side net. Alexis clearly not completely match fit. Arsenal pressing but always bodies in the way.
Oxlade-Chamberlain with a long run but Giroud can only put his cross over. Adrian with a good save after a shot from Alexis.
Two big mistakes cost us this match. We didn’t play great at all but that doesn’t mean you have to concede the goals we did. One time a big error on a free kick and one time losing the ball in front of our own penalty area. Stupid mistakes we shouldn’t make. Attacking wise too many times the wrong option was taken. West Ham parked the buss effectively and was lucky we made the fatal mistakes.
The good thing is that we are only 1 point behind the team that will be champions come the end of the season.