We had to fight for the right to party at the Emirates yesterday but fight the ten men did taking all three points to send us to the top of the league which was the cue for party songs to begin: say we are top of the league, say we are top of the league.
A confusing team selection: did the threat of West Ham really warrant two defensive midfielders? On the face of it the choice of Denilson over Diaby made little sense. I put it down to Wenger wanting to try the team he has ear marked to start against Barça, either way, it took precisely four and a half minutes for Wenger’s choice of Denilson to be vindicated. The Brazilian found himself in a position on the edge of the box which he is making more and more his own; he played a nice one two with Bendtner before firing a controlled low drive into the corner past the helpless stretched hand of Robert Green.
One nil up early on and Arsenal’s well oiled collective passing game slid into action establishing, after only fifteen minutes, a gulf in class between the two teams of Grand Canyon proportions. We were so superior creating chance after chance that four up after half an hour would not have been unjust. Even the West Ham fans seemed to give up on getting anything from the game and tried to salvage a bit of fun from the afternoon by singing “We hate Tottenham more than you”, this was funny.
But just when we were thinking it was going to be a romp Vermaelen was wrongly adjudged to have fouled Franco in the box leading to his sending off and West Ham being awarded a penalty. Justice was done when everyone’s new best friend Manuel Almunia made a fantastic save to keep the title dream alive.
West Ham came out in the second half with the silly idea that just because they had an extra man that they might get some thing from the game. It took the Arsenal’s ten men just fifteen minutes to organise themselves into their unfamiliar ranks before realising (and this I thought was hilarious) that our ten were still superior to their eleven and then started pinning West Ham back in their own own half.
West Ham had a couple of quarter chances which made a few ripples but not a splash, although, even at one nil it seemed difficult to imagine anything other than an Arsenal victory , this was made even more obvious when Upson gave away a penalty for hand ball. Why, oh why are there Arsenal supporters that still think he should be brought back to the home of football, Silvestre is better than he is. Anyway I digress, a penalty was awarded and up stepped our Captain to coolly slot it home, it was job done, the party could begin and everyone’s favourite songs could be sung.
Almunia: I have a theory – there are two Almunias, there is the blond haired one that is crap and there is the dark haired one who is not bad at all. 8
Eboue: a fantastic second half, one of those solo runs is going to lead to a goal that takes our breath away which in turn will raise him to even higher levels of respect. 7.5
Campbell: used his energy very cleverly today enabling him to give yet another very professional performance. 7.5
Vermaelen: although it should never have been a penalty he should never have allowed the ball to get that far. We got away with the pen if we get away with a one match ban we can console ourselves in the knowledge that things could have been whole lot worse. 6
Clichy: a commanding performance. Gibbs and Traore are keeping him on his toes. 8
Denilson: earned his wages this week, made some good tackles, some good passing, some good positional play and scored the important first goal, not the finished article but at 22 there is still plenty of time.
Song: Ladies and Gentlemen I give you the “Black Franz Benckenbaur”; a first half master class in the midfield. 8.5
Fabrégas: no one gives more than our captain in the quest to reach to the promised land known as Silver Ware. 9
Nasri: playing out on the right wing is not his best position and therefore I expected slightly less than usual but nevertheless he was still put in a shift. 7
Bendtner: a quieter game by his recent heroic standards. 7
Arshavin: he is taking this winning the title malarkey a bit too lightly for me; I want to see him absolutely destroy teams like West Ham. 7
Diaby: he is like a cross between the Harlem Globetrotters and a younger Patrick Vieira the result is a joy to watch.
Sagna: this Sagna – Eboue right back thing is really working, his fresh legs were exactly what was needed
Eduardo: may still yet have an important part to play in our run in.
Wenger: top, top team selection and great substitutions.
Have a great day in AA folks