Defeats can come in a variety of flavours, sometimes you get hammered like we did against Liverpool last weekend but other times you do the hammering but still come out at the wrong end of the result, which is what happened today. Lowly West Ham gets the honour of handing Arsenal their first defeat at the Emirates in a manner which was almost predictable after the initial Arsenal onslaught lead to nothing.
If you play as well as Arsenal did in the first half, you usually go into halftime with at least a three goal lead and possibly more. So when you’re down one despite controlling the game and mounting an assault that bordered on domination, you have to wonder what you did to deserve this. It was sadly ironic that it was West Ham that scored the opening goal after seeing almost nothing of the ball in first half, except on weak counter-attacks resulting from pressing Arsenal play. The Gunners had every chance to score and almost everybody had a shot at it, but this time it was a little different, it wasn’t just poor finishing that hurt us, it was also Robert Green who made some superb saves on Ljunberg, Adebayor, Rosicky and Fabregas, the latter having the best chance. Cesc truly deserves to score a goal in the league and you can tell that he wants one bad but when the opportunity does come, he always seems to disappoint himself. He’s missed more sitters than Baptista and when he does beat the goalie, there’s always the crossbar to deal with. This has to be affecting his sleep.
But even if you give Green boatloads of credit, it still doesn’t explain some extremely poor finishing which allowed West Ham to withstand a barrage of Arsenal bullets and establish a belief that they might have a chance of coming out with something from this game. To say it was the “same old story” of strikers not taking their chances would sum up the entire game with an added twist that West Ham deserved their offside goal just because they were persistent enough to not give up on the game after the first 15 minutes which was when Tevez was asked to drop back and Zamora was left alone at the front.
Even when our aces, Aliadiere and Baptista were brought into the game, it didn’t matter, they produced the shots but nothing came off them. Perhaps on a different day, one of these efforts might have found the back of the net and we’d be talking about another home draw instead of our first defeat. There was plenty of service for our strikers so the midfield did their job and it was yet again the final touch that let us down. We played with a purpose and really did everything we could to win the game, you could see it in the urgency of Wenger’s substitutions and the way we were committed to going forward, but in the end if the strikers don’t possess the poise and patience to finish in the box, nothing really matters. We’ve had a lot of games this year where we just couldn’t score despite having plenty of chances but nothing comes close to this one, maybe perhaps the CSKA Moscow game at home. I mean we had 30 shots compared to their 6 and 14 corners to their single one, but alas, absolutely zilch to show for it.
When Green was beaten, it was that f***ing crossbar that came in the way and it wasn’t the crossbar, it was the f***ing post. Either way, we were destined to lose this game and nothing we could do would have mattered. There’s no point picking apart and criticizing the strikers since they’re doing their best and their best just doesn’t seem to be good enough. Let this game slip our memory and let us focus on staying ahead of Bolton instead of catching Liverpool since that’s just not going to happen. Here are some of the missed chances and the Bobby Zamora goal:
Check out the first half misses at Arsenal Clips too. They border on comedy.