Arsenal went in to last night’s game at West Ham with confidence at an all-time low after going nine whole games without winning, and there was not much surprise when we were playing listlessly from the start, and even less surprise that we fell behind to a scrappy goal from Ogbonna before half-time.
It looked like we were set for yet another disastrous night for the Gunners and to continue our plummet towards the relegation zone, but it seems that Freddie’s half-time chat galvanised the shuffled team into action and our rising young star Martinelli popped up with an excellent equaliser.
This was the boost we needed as West Ham’s heads dropped and we quickly went into an unassailable lead through Pepe and Aubameyang.
At last we had three points in the bag, but Freddie admitted that we only really started playing in the second half. He told Arsenal.com: “The players did amazingly. We had a gameplan and we wanted to move the ball a lot. First half we were slow, we were a bit lethargic, we didn’t move, we didn’t run. But that in my opinion comes when players are low and have no confidence. You don’t do it at the speed you need to and it’s been hard on the players, but I felt like we gave it a go in the second half and we did that.
“It was amazing to see, for me. And you saw West Ham getting a bit tired and a bit low around the 60th minute and we sliced them open and played some really good football, in my opinion. That’s how we want to play and we were keeping the ball well. But of course, we don’t get carried away. We have a lot of work to do on things but all credit to the players for how they did in the second half.”
He was then asked if this has lifted the atmosphere in the team. “I hope so!” he replied. “They looked happy in the dressing room, but I don’t think any of us can imagine, in my opinion at least… Arsenal is a big football club. We are demanded to win football games and they haven’t won for a long time. I at least have been able to feel or sense the pressure they’ve been under and you can always say ‘well they’re professional football players, they should deal with it’ but it’s been tough for them and you’ve felt it and seen it in games. Today, in the last 30 minutes, that lifted a bit and we started to play some good football and slice them open like I said. We’ve got a lot of things to work on but it felt nice with a win.”
With games coming thick and fast, Freddie was asked if he had had much time to actually train with the squad, and he admitted that he would like to: “It would be nice to have a few days so I can actually practise with them. Before the game is almost like a walkthrough, slowly, of what we need to do and maybe that’s why we start a bit too slowly all the time! Because you can’t really have the tempo in training, but it’s a lot of video and trying to show sequences that we can do better because we can’t really do it on the field. That’s not ideal, but that’s December and the situation I’m in with the players. We do the best we can.”
So, is one win enough to get the team back on track? “Of course you always hope.” Freddie concluded. “But I try to not get carried away because I can still feel that there are things we need to work on and we’re not near to where I want us to be. But of course, I hope that the happiness the players could feel, and that spirit and hopefully the belief in themselves, that they could pass the ball with a higher tempo and they could do one and two touches and they could do things a lot quicker, that they will have some positive effect on them.”
So, the run has been broken and we have moved up to 9th in the table, but we are amazingly only one point behind Spurs and 2 points behind Man United in 5th, so if we can get a run going we can easily move back into the top 6. There is just the small matter of facing Manchester City next week…