When the offside flag went up to signal Arsenal’s winning goal against West Ham yesterday, the thought never even crossed my mind that VAR would rule that it was onside and the goal should stand. Such is the extent to which we’ve been skanked by it this season I just assumed that we’d not be given it, the officials would find a way to disallow it, we’d be forced to see out the remainder of the game and pick up our 14th goal of the season.
So when the decision came up on the board that it was a legitimate goal, I didn’t really believe it and half of me didn’t even know that I should be celebrating. But eventually I did, we managed to see out the remaining few minutes and now we have a precious three points which sees us three points from Wolves and Sheffield United, two from Man United, one from the Tiny Totts, as well as five from Chelski in fourth.
We have a game in hand but I’m kind of writing that off against City in midweek, but even if you do that, if City can get a result today away at United, then we’ll be looking at being very close to the chasing pack. Quite remarkable when you consider how dire our season has been.
But back to yesterday’s game and to the starting line up, which featured a certain surprise to see Sokratis coming in at right back; certainly the main surprise of the day. I can only assume that Bellerin was saved for Wednesday but with Mari also coming in at centre half, clearly Arteta get that a bit of rotation was needed. For all of the talk of getting the job done this weekend and not focusing on City on Wednesday, I think he had one eye on that game with his team selection.
West Ham on the other hand went full strength and I think it’s fair to say they can feel aggrieved that they didn’t get something from the game. Jarrod Bowen hit the woodwork within a few seconds and that early warning signalled that it was going to be a tough afternoon, as it proved to be, with a lot of ball but little end product from The Arsenal.
It was all a bit slow though in that first half. We’ve seen too much of that of late – the worst example being Olympiakos in the Europa League – and this felt ponderous yesterday too. We had some chances, like Sokratis against the bar, but we were also guilty of some sloppy play to give West Ham some chances.
Such is Arsenal under Arteta though that we knew they’d improve in the second half. Certainly there was a bit more intensity but again in front of goal it felt like a real slog. So when Özil nodded down for Lacazette to head home and eventually be declared the goal, it felt like it would either be the winner or we’d find a way to bugger it up. We nearly did too after that. Such is this Arsenal defence.
It’s one of those ‘grind it out’ wins and for that we have to be relieved, but we need to play better than that next weekend away to Brighton if we’re going to get anything from this season and if we’re going to build momentum. I’m kind of ok with grinding out results and in the league we’ve now picked up three wins in a row. Like I said I don’t think we’ll pick up anything against City but it does feel a bit more of a ‘free hit’ given how some results went yesterday. For now, I’ll certainly take that, I have to say.
Onwards and upwards. Catch you guys tomorrow for some more ramblings.