Emmanuel Adebayor came off the bench to inspire Arsenal to beat a dogged West Ham side who looked like they were going to hold on and frustrate the Gunners.
West Ham denied Arsenal space for 75 minutes by getting their defenders and midfielders back behind the ball as even Bellamy tucked back. What ensued was that the Gunners once again were retreated to playing around the ball around the box looking for any holes they could exploit. Arsenal’s reluctance to take any long shots also contributed to not breaking the defense sooner.
There was also a lack of clever and incisive movement upfront, Bendtner drifting wide to find space at frequent opportunities. Also the midfielders and wingers were very functional; not taking the risks to get closer to the strikers and breaking into the box. One of the best chances when Walcott went close he played closer to Van Persie as the Dutchman chested the ball down to him and his shot was saved by the superb Green.
The introduction of Adebayor changed things for Arsenal. His direct running, strength, link up and overall fresh legs made it harder for the Hammers’ defense. Also by taking off the two wingers, Wenger reverted to 4-3-3, Bendtner and Van Persie moving to the left and right respectively. By playing on their unnatural side against their weaker foot, the two were forced to cut in and in result play closer to the striker. It was a tactic that played off, such as against Fenerbahce or even Bolton and Blackburn were there were options either side. The front three linked up well and Adebayor spearheading the attack was more dangerous.
Alex Song and the Defense
Alex Song’s inclusion and the total omission of Denilson (rested) was a surprise but the Cameroon ace had a strong game. He pressure more and tackling to stop the Hammers attacks were better while he was calm and composed on the ball (though sometimes took too long). Song’s big frame and presence was comfort for the Arsenal defense who looked the strongest they have all season, against an opposition with strong and direct players. It was not by far a faultless performance but one that would have had Arsene Wenger thinking.
Also Almunia’s presence and command of his area has always been underrated but now critic and fans are finally taking notice. Almunia didn’t have much to do apart from a great save with his feet to deny Bellamy but the afforementioned abilities were of great benefit to the defenders.
(Sorry about the delay and getting any pictures today. Will try and get some to back up the analysis next time but you can still check the highlights).
|West Ham||Team Statistics||Arsenal|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|4||Shots on Target||6|
|4||Shots off Target||9|