West Ham vs Arsenal: The Planets Align

Posted on October 7th, by invinciblog in Barclays Premier League, Opinion. No Comments

“They’re all on the same plane. They’re all going around in the same direction…It’s perfect you know. It’s gorgeous. It’s almost uncanny.” ~ Astronomer Geoffrey Marcy, describing Arsenal the Solar System

It's been an interesting season so far…

After the last couple of seasons' shaky starts – with the poaching of top players, the seemingly endless Roll Of Injured, the calamitous results of crucial early fixtures, and a general feeling of malaise as we watched our beloved club slip into the Pit of Mediocrity – things this time round seem refreshingly different.

We're talking about solid defences and being spoiled for choice in the midfield; the Sword Of Damocles hanging over the collective heads of our strikers since the departure of the treacherous Dutch skunk seems to have turned to mistletoe. Joyful pile-ons and prancing and kissing and frivolry abound, as the goals pour in from all sides.

Let's sum up the last two weeks: We left two points behind on our visit to the Etihad – but the point we brought back was invaluable. A few days later saw a glut of goals in the COCup against Coventry. A couple of disappointing set piece slip-ups gifted the Chavs an Emirates victory, but a gritty and determined mid-week win over the Greeks solidified our decent start to the CL campaign. We then nailed the Hammers at home, frantically but emphatically – once again coming from behind, and behaving like true Convincibles.

Before the West Ham game, I was bemoaning our 2-8-0 formation: how crowded our midfield seemed; how there was no target in the box to deliver on the many chances we created; how our centre backs were too often left exposed. They say that if you only have a hammer, then every problem gets treated like a nail. The erratic performances of our 'strikers', coupled with our massive pool of talented midfielders, and the ascendancy of our young wingbacks, made it seem like Arséne was stuck for starting line-up options. From previous match selections, it looked like his strategy was to stick to the 2-8-0 for the first 70 minutes of our games, and then toss on an impact striker.

But with yesterday's starting line-up, I think Wenger finally hit the jackpot. Against a committed West Ham side – who displayed a dogged and determined defence, along with a relentless aerial offence, spearheaded by the pony-tailed anvil, Carroll – Wenger opted for what looked (to my untrained eyes) like a 2-4-3-1 formation: Giroud up front – Podolski, Cazorla and Gervinho tucking in behind – Gibbs and Jenkinson commanding the wing channels on the outside of a forward-leaning defensive duo of Ramsey and Arteta, and Merteceptor and Verminator sweeping defense at the back.

The pace of the game was frenetic. West Ham were pressing relentlessly, which made the zippy, precise, fluid interaction between our front 9 that much more remarkable (and enjoyable). The goal conceded was as superlative as it was unexpected – I don't know a keeper on the planet that could have stopped Diame's meteoric blast. But instead of freaking us out, it spurred us on; foot flat on the accelerator, Arsenal shifted through the gears and put on a pitch-perfect display of beautifully effective one-touch football.

Everyone was in fine form: hungry and committed, but none more so than Giroud. We've seen glimpses of his potential this season, but yesterday, he proved why he was Ligue 1's top scorer last season, and why he will be such an important part of this new Arsenal squad. Podolski is a work horse, a powerhaus – all vector; Cazorla is a super-conductor – he orchestrates our offensive endeavours (and has a devastating lightning strike of his own); but Giroud is a magician… his ability to turn up in the right place at the right time is borderline miraculous.

He told us to be patient, to back off, that the goals would eventually come. (What else could the poor guy say? The expectation and the pressure must have been almost unbearable.) Yesterday Giroud delivered. Not only his muchly-anticipated first league goal – but a thrilling performance that promises an exciting season ahead.

For us. For him.



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