We should have known that it wouldn’t be an easy game given that fatigue from the Wigan match had to hit us a bit. Still, Arsene Wenger’s clever rotation injected enough freshness for us to actually look less exhausted than our opponents in the second half.
It was a really great victory for many reasons and it became even greater after Everton lost to Crystal Palace at home. Here are the key pointers from West Ham game.
1.We are the best club in London derbies.
Apart from the terrible performance against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, we have been rather successful in London derbies this season – a double over Crystal Palace, a double over Spuds, a double over Fulham and now a double over the Hammers.
2.We won a game after one month.
Our win-less streak had started after our victory against the Spuds before it was ended against the Hammers. Given the circumstance, being a one-goal-down could have been a huge problem and it would have been a deadly blow to our Champions’ League-place chances. Fortunately, we were good enough to over-come the deficit and beat our visitors. Speaking of the deficit…
3.A deficit doesn’t mean much against West Ham.
Since West Ham had returned to the Premiership, we have played four times. We won all four matches and each time our opponents scored first. It seems that our players like to play against physically strong but rather slow West Ham players. Their non-existing pace give our creative and mobile players a lot of space and opportunities.
4.Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla enjoy playing against West Ham.
It’s interesting to notice how all three players that had arrived in the summer of 2012 have had a lot of nice memories against the Hammers. Their first visit to Boleyn Ground was unforgettable – Lukas Podolski assisted Olivier Giroud for his first Premiership goal while Santi Cazorla scored a screamer to seal our 3:1 victory. In the first match between the sides at Emirates, Podolski had scored a wonderful equalizer before Olivier Giroud netted a brace and Santi Cazorla added a nice back-heel goal in the 10-minute-storm during which Arsenal scored four goals. This term, Podolski assisted for Walcott’s goal and sealed our victory after Giroud’s lay-off at Boleyn Ground. On Tuesday night Cazorla gave a brilliant performance and constantly tormented the visitors’ defence, Podolski scored twice with his powerful left foot and Giroud scored arguably his most impressive goal for Arsenal.
5.Our defence failed to keep a clean sheet again…
Our defence had a lot of problems in the first half. Sagna made a foul that could have ended in a penalty for the visitors while our central defenders couldn’t clean things up before Jarvis scored.
6….but it’s good to have Koscielny back.
The Frenchman is back and that’s great news. He lifts our whole defence, especially Mertesacker. Koscielny covers BFG’s lack of pace much better than Vermaelen.
7.Vermaelen did a solid job as “a wide central defender”.
It might be that Vermaelen’s performance against West Ham was marked with a brilliant Frank-de-Boer-esque long pass for Giroud but it was his aerial prowess that was a very important defensive asset against Andy Carroll. The Belgian – who hasn’t been too convincing as either a central defender or left full-back this season – perhaps found a place for himself but it’s hardly unlikely that sort of role will be needed on a regular basis. In modern football, full-backs who keep bombing down the flanks are extremely important and Vermaelen doesn’t fit the bill. And, the heart of our defence is BFG and Koscielny.
8.It should get easier, shouldn’t it?
After a preposterous streak of matches ended, we will play some sides that are either mediocre or among the worst in the league. Our victory against West Ham – followed with a nice win for Crystal Pulis at Goodison Park – might be the first step for our goal in the Premiership – the fourth-place-trophy. It’s not what we had expected around New Year but at the end of the day, if we win the FA Cup and maintain our Champions’ League-status, I won’t be disappointed. Of course, only if that means we will show our muscles in the transfer market in the summer and remove the flaws that cost us a league title.
Next match: Hull City.