League positions usually go out of the window when there is a local derby, and West Ham who had fared quite well against us in recent years came with the obvious intention of not losing. Expectations were high amongst the home supporters after seemingly scoring for fun whoever we played in the last few weeks,yet it soon became apparent this was going to be in the main an all out attack against a resilient defence. I don’t think I am being too harsh in saying that this wasn’t one of our most fluent performances as unusually Cesc and co weren’t on top of their game yet others who had been criticised lately, mainly Clichy and Sagna both had outstanding games. Koscienly is performing better with every game and his partnership with Squillaci looked solid. Fabianski had little to do, but he is reborn,oozing confidence and commanded his area well. Long may that continue.
Arshavin is just totally out of form and should have been substituted earlier and Denilson didn’t have the best of games. Chamakh is only human, and he too found it difficult to impose himself.
Nevertheless as the game progressed Nasri started to control the game and the surge continued, and he blasted a free kick from a full 35 yards which hit the crossbar. Song,who obviously enjoys his role as an attacking/defending centre back or is it midfielder kept moving forward more and more. Eventually Walcott was introduced and within minutes was unfortunate not to score, hitting the angle of the post which rebounded to the excellent Green. Green made several other outstanding saves, primarily from Fabregas and Walcott and many watching felt resigned to us drawing against our East London neighbours.
Everyone was on edge and the clock was ticking down, when Clichy cut inside from the left flank and sent in a curling ball and there was our unsung hero Song to head the ball into the net.That is three goals in three games for the much maligned Alex.
The final minutes were a master class of possession by the lads and as the final whistle blew there were smiles all round and a huge sigh of relief.
1-0 to The Arsenal :)
Player ratings courtesy of RockyLives:
Fabianski: Not a lot to do, but when he had to do it he was composed and sure. His confidence is growing visibly and there was a wonderful moment when he was literally dragging Cesc onto position in the box as we defended a free kick or corner. (I gave him an extra half mark for that). 7.5
Sagna: some misplaced passes in the final third but excellent defensively. 7
Koscielny: didn’t put a foot wrong. His tackling and positional play were first rate and he’s brilliant at staying on his feet and steering opponents away from danger without diving in. MoTM: 8
Squillaci: another good game for The Squid, who is forming a solid partnership with Kozzer. He made some strong tackles when needed, always looks calm and is a threat in the opposition’s box from set pieces. 7
Clichy: comes in for a lot of stick for his positional play but he was good today (partly helped by West Ham’s lack of ambition). And a rare assist for the vital goal. 7
Song: worked his socks off playing box to box and scored the late winner. West Ham’s lack of threat in attack meant you never felt too worried about any potential holes he was leaving. Got his customary first-half yellow for diving in in a non-crucial area. 7.5
Denilson: Tidy, if unspectacular. Nevertheless with Song charging forward his conservative positioning was important. 6.5
Fabregas: Not one of his better games. His touch was off and he misplaced a third of his passes, which is very uncharacteristic. On the plus side he kept trying to make things happen and had a couple of attempts on goal. 6
Arshavin: what’s happened to the player who single-handedly destroyed Liverpool? Nothing worked for him and it was painful to watch at times. Sadly the time has come to take him out of the spotlight for a few games. 4
Nasri: not as influential as he has been in other recent games (partly because Cesc and Arsh were misfiring, so our rhythm was never properly established). But he still did well and was driving us forward at the end. 7
Chamakh: some have criticised him for yesterday’s performance but in truth he was a victim of our general lack of fluidity and West Ham’s packed defence. It’s not as if he missed a hatful of sitters, it’s just that he couldn’t get in the game. 6.5
Walcott: continued his good recent form and was unlucky not to score. 7
Bendtner: didn’t have time to make much of an impact but definitely added to our threat as we chased the winner. 7
Eboue: a typical Eboue cameo: 6