When at halftime you’re handed a Carlsberg (this is becoming a habit Andrew) and you look up at the statistics, which tell you that you’re opponent hasn’t even mustered an effort, corner, as well as making just three fouls, you kind of get the feeling that the game isn’t quite going to finish all blood and thunder.
Which is pretty much what happened yesterday evening, as Arsenal rather just sauntered their way into the semis, as opposed to bulldoze.
In truth, West Ham looked like they could be even less arsed than the Arsenal players and never really challenged our defensive line of Debuchy, Chambers, Holding and the man on the naughty step, Sead Kolasinac. Instead they were content to contain and little else, which you’d have to say worked, other than a period just before halftime.
Kolasinac gave Theo a peach and he headed wide from about eight yards, there were some decent balls into the box that we didn’t manage to get on the end of, before Danny Welbeck went ‘full Danny Welbeck’ and once again used parts of his body to scramble the ball home off his knee after a good header back across goal from Debuchy.
If Steve, Mark, Andrew and I thought that this might be the start of a glut of goals in the second half, we were to be left as unsatisfied as much as the plastic and over-priced beer we drank at halftime.
West Ham and Arsenal delivered more of the same and sadly, the only real notable part of the second half was the injury to Olivier Giroud, at a time in the year when he’d most certainly be getting more games as the matches hit us thivk and fast.
The signs look ominous. Ramsey, Giroud, who’s next? The usual Arsenal injury crisis has been abated because of the large-scale rotation, but it looks like it’s catching us up. We can ill-afford more players going down with injuries and I just hope this is the last of them, but ‘Tis the season’ for that sort of stuff so I’m not 100% convinced all of the current squad will make it through the next couple of weeks with no knocks or injuries that keep them out.
If you’re wondering why I’m not really talking much about the match last night, well, it’s because there isn’t really much to talk about. It was a drab affair from a team perspective but there were one or two individual performances.
Francis Coquelin did ok. He ran around a lot. Didn’t misplace pass after pass and I believe played the ball into the box which allowed Debuchy to nod into Welbeck’s kneecap.
Debuchy too looked good and whilst I know we can’t exactly compare a very leggy looking West Ham to some of the better teams in the Premier League, his performances give me heart at a time in which Bellerin is struggling for form and is the only right back we’ve got in the squad. An injury to him means that at least we’ve got a Debuchy playing himself back in to a bit of form.
I thought Chambers and Holding also did themselves justice, although in reality they weren’t really troubled, but when they were put to the test they stepped forward and were aggressive enough in the tackle to give me heart.
And then on the other side Kolasinac, who is clearly in Arsène’s bad books for some reason, played well when going forward. Steve and I speculated beforehand why he was playing but the more I think about it, the more I think he’s right; I wonder if we’ll see Monreal at left back on Friday night? One to ponder for the upcoming days I suppose.
Willock had a good game too. For such a gangly-looking lad his balance was surprisingly good and he got stuck into tackles, was able to beat his man a few times, as well as retain possession well I thought. There’s a good player in there and I can’t help but think that a stint at a Championship club will do him the world of good in the new year. Let’s just wait and see what happens with the league cup and Europa League first though, as I’m sure Arsène would rather give him a bit more time in a red and white shirt before he farms him out somewhere.
Theo was Theo and Giroud put himself about a bit, and we’re into the semi finals which will no doubt see us play City or United I’m sure. We’ll find out by tomorrow but it doesn’t matter too much for now. The job is done and we can “look forward to” Liverpool at home on Friday.
Catch you all tomorrow.