The proverbial bus made it’s regular visit to the Emirates Stadium as Arsenal fail to break down a defensive West Ham side.
Arsenal 0-0 West Ham United
Before the game Wenger talked about why he wants Andrei Arshavin stating that the Russian could deliver in the final third, individually and collectively. “You need always to have a creative unit if we want to play the kind of football that we want to play. We want to play the ball on the ground, move it quickly and then you need the players who can do that because now we play against teams who have 10 players at the back.”
It was the case once again as West Ham defended in front of the box while Arsenal, for all their neat passing around the box didn’t have the thrust and dynamism to break through. Passing the ball around the box suited such a game plan but the second part of West Ham’s plan, the counter attack, was non-existent. An early goal was required by Arsenal to force Zola’s team to be more adventurous but as the game wore on, mentally and physically his players tired and in the end West Ham had no real option but to defend. Parker, Upson and Collins were the three stand out performers but all players worker their socks off.
Nicklas Bendtner had Arsenal’s best early chances with two headers as crosses looked like the only way through. Emmanuel Eboue showed glimpses of his talent with his interchangeability and fluidity but the play became congested in the centre. Samir Nasri was having the best of joy, twisting and turning and beating Lucas Neill for pace but understandably still not as comfortable with his left foot.
Eboue’s injury in the first half forced Wenger, excluding Robin Van Persie to play the players in the positions the fans were asking for before the game as Vela and Bendtner went out wide while Nasri played behind Adebayor.
In the second half Denilson was pushed forward as the more advanced central midfielder but both changes to the system weren’t very effective. Bendtner was withdrawn for Van Persie in the second half which meant the threat in the air and directness displayed against Bolton went. Adebayor had Arsenal’s best chance from the counter attack which at the time seemed an improbable and priceless commodity. Sagna’s low ball into the box was poked wide by the Togolese striker as one could sense the match was slipping away.
The defensive tactics displayed makes these one of those games which can be analysed by what you didn’t see. Stretching of the play, direct and dynamic attacking from all angles and the movement to force the defenders to be dragged out of position and away from their game plan.
Arsenal: Almunia (6), Sagna (6), Toure (7), Gallas (7), Clichy (7), Eboue (6) [Vela 36 (6)], Diaby (5) [Song Billong 90], Denilson (6), Nasri (7), Adebayor (5), Bendtner (6) [Van Persie 68 (6)].
Subs Not Used: Fabianski, Ramsey, Djourou, Gibbs.
West Ham: Green, Neill, Collins, Upson, Ilunga, Behrami, Parker, Noble (Nsereko 70), Collison, Cole, Di Michele (Boa Morte 83).
Subs Not Used: Lastuvka, Lopez, Spector, Tristan, Sears.
Ref: Steve Bennett (Kent)
Booked: Diaby, Vela.
Booked: Collins, Neill.
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