Ultimately what we wanted yesterday was an Arsenal win and so when Danny Welbeck calmly swivelled and rifled home the third goal in injury time, the overriding emotion was obviously relief from most of the stadium and also for me.
I think if I was to choose a word to reflect the game yesterday though, it would be ‘laboured’, because it really did feel like a slog for Arsenal and West Ham certainly played their part in making the afternoon generally uncomfortable from an Arsenal fan perspective.
The pre-game build up was dominated by the news that Mesut Özil was ‘ill’ and so naturally as soon as his name wasn’t featured in the squad everybody in the media started frantically smashing away at their keyboards to bang out a narrative which has the German rowing with Emery. But the Spaniard poured water on the rumour post game and I think we can’t look any further than the fact that Özil must have been poorly.
But without him we clearly missed something and for those people who talked up an Arsenal side without him because they thought he deserved to be dropped, yesterday showed that we need his vision and class, so when next Sunday’s game against Cardiff comes around I pray he’s back fit and in the team.
As for yesterday’s performance, well, it felt sluggish from the start. We were slow in our passing, we didn’t fashion too many chances in the team, whilst the likes of Iwobi and Mkhitaryan didn’t really give us any confidence that they’re the types of players who with drag us back into the Champions League. Both had pretty poor games but Iwobi particularly didn’t look great and hooking him at halftime for Lacazette was the right decision.
The Frenchman looks like he’s out to prove a point and after yet another impressive performance yesterday we need to start asking some serious questions about when he’s going to start. He was instrumental for the goal that put us ahead and in just praying we see a starting line up with his name on it in a week’s time.
The first half was pretty dire though and the first part of the second half was too. West Ham looked to hit us on the counter and our back line will give us all nightmares all season it looks like. We are carved open time and time again and it feels like a clean sheet is a thing of distant memory because we give so many chances away it’s depressing at times. We’re so open. We seem to have players who look like they’ve never played together in their lives at the back and whilst Monreal can be credited for bringing us back level, our full backs look really poor defensively at times.
I guess that’s because I’m a game like yesterday Emery wants them effectively playing like wingers. The offshoot of that for opposing teams is that they’re going to get space time and time again and we saw glimpses of that from West Ham. Perhaps we just have to get used to the idea that we’re going to be racking up basketball style game results.
But if we’re going to do that then we need our strikers scoring and after last weekend’s hatful of misses by Auba, we had a game yesterday in which he had very few times in which he looked like he’d put one in the onion bag for us. Emery admitted afterwards he’s lacking in a bit of confidence and whilst three games is hardly a crisis, it does feel like he needs to get off the mark soon, because we don’t want this to become a ‘thing’.
If I’m sounding a little negative then don’t worry because I am glad we picked up the three points and glad that the job was done in the end. Ultimately we stepped up and got ourselves over the line and we’re up and running and we can look forward to next weekend in the hope we can pick up an away win against Cardiff. We knew this would be a tough period as the coach keeps on with his new ideas with his players and there was never going to be an instant ‘click’.
Emery knows this too. You can tell he knows what he has to do to get his team moving in the right direction and that’s at least a positive, because we know that tomorrow when the players report for training, there’ll be more learning to be done, more drills to be had.
It’s a Sunday in which we can all watch other football again as opposed to forgetting football exists, which is what I do after a loss.
Catch you all in the morrow.