FIVE CRITICAL POINTS FROM THE ARSENAL VICTORY OVER WEST HAM UNITED AT THE WEEKEND.
Arsenal were at their best with a 5-1 win on the road against a strong West Ham side that had Dimitri Payet and the youthful talent of Ashley Fletcher going forward. The visitors ran riot against the hosts quenching some skeptical talks going into the game. Looking back at the game it was West Ham that were easily second best in the match as Arsenal nullified the effect of their attacking talent.
As we march on to the next game in mind basking in the euphoria of the West Ham defeat, let’s evaluate the critical points from the Arsenal v West Ham match…
GUNNERS FIRED FIRST
Following a balanced game in the early exchanges it was certainly a matter of quality from the visitors that paved the way for the breakthrough goal in the game. With Arsenal coming into the match with 0-2 defeat that tempted to dampen their title credentials, it was necessary for someone to spice up something to drive the team to a positive result.
West Ham went in search of goal and a loose ball fell to Sanchez who went past an onrushing West Ham defender to set up Mesut Ozil with a simple tap in for the opener, with the goalkeeper largely displaced by Alexis Sanchez. It was that sort of goal at the 24th minute from Ozil that spurred Arsenal on to record a very convincing 5-1 win. It was just what they needed and they found it through Alexis who showed no mercy in ensuring that the ball got to the net with a pass for a simple Mesut Ozil tap in.
WEST HAM WEAKNESSES
The West Ham side showed some weaknesses in their game in an attempt to contain the speedy Arsenal side and was caught out of position on occasion. The host started with a 3-4-2-1 formation leaving three men in central defence. Teams have adopted this 3 man defence following Chelsea’s success with this formation under Antonio Conte. But it’s not just about the 3-4-3 formation at the back but also about the quality of the players to suit the team dynamics, whether in transition or regrouping defensively, depending on the suitability of the players.
With West Ham starting with the trio of James Collins, Winston Reid and Angelo Ogbonna at the back with four in midfield, the back four was exposed when the midfield created spaces at the central area during transition and Arsenal capitalized to nail the hosts as Monreal was laying ambush from the left (James Collins position) in tandem with Ozil and Alexis who drifted in and out to force a breakthrough in the game.
THREE WISE MEN
Without Giroud and injury-laden Lucas Perez (though on the bench) Arsenal resorted to starting with the trio of Alexis, Walcott and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain with Mesut Ozil pulling the strings in their midst going forward. The pace at which the aforementioned trio under the visionary (Creative) influence of Ozil (Mesut) evaded the West Ham area in attack was difficult to contain making it difficult to particularly man-mark any of the three (3). With Arsenal very mobile in transition, Sánchez who was leading the line was at various time linking up well with the duo of Walcott and Oxlade in an attempt to forfeit his standing forward role, and this proved efficient as the forward lines all found the back of the net (except Walcott who was replaced by Aaron Ramsey midway in the second half) in the game notching an assist in the context to signal their productivity in the game. Perhaps it was The Ox who benefitted most from this attacking set up to remind us what he is capable of doing in games like this.
FANTASTIC ALEXIS SANCHEZ
Against West Ham Sanchez turned provider for assist-specialist Ozil, who had little to do but a little tap in to be on the score sheet. Back from the brace against Bournemouth in the 3-1 win he continued again and was difficult for West Ham to deal with. His movement and link up play were efficient in the final third as West Ham was caught out of position. Sánchez got his first of the night out of an individual circumstances after receiving a delicious ball from Shkodran Mustafi, turning into the box and away from Masuaku to finish with aplomb at the far corner.
The second was even better as he scored from outside the box as a result of Arsenal’s free flowing movement in the final third which made Arsenal’s attacking forays unpredictable. The Chilean star then added the third in style, wowing the keeper to the ground just like Messi before chipping the ball over Randolph for his hat-trick in the game.
What a phenomenon as Sanchez claimed the match ball much to the delight of his teammate (Petr Cech) and the kids at the Stadium who readily sought for his shirt after the game as victory was written all around him on the night.
DIMITRI PAYET (WHAT A FREE-KICK!)
The forward may not have influenced the game so much from proceedings but his presence was felt at some point in the game. His calmness in possession was evident even though his side were second best in the match.
With the introduction of Andre Ayew, West Ham were seeking momentum in attack and were awarded a free-kick (in Payet Position) within touching distance. The playmaker stepped up and curled a blinder of a free-kick over the wall with exquisite accuracy and curve to the crossbar with Petr Cech totally beaten in goal as Carroll applied the header to the rebound for a goal of his own.
It was Payet’s trademark as Cech (with his huge experience) was still ball watching up to when Carroll nodded into the goal. What a goal it would have been and a wonderful way to exonerate the playmaker who did not have the best of his game against the Gunners.
Let’s hope we just as many positive points after tonight’s game!