The result yesterday perfectly painted the picture for Arsenal’s rise and fall this season. Arsenal’s last visit to the Boleyn will certainly be a landmark in the season for The Gunners, with this draw concluding all hopes of a title for the good. Arsenal, despite playing well for parts of the game, in my opinion were very lucky to even come away with 1 points, stretching their unbeaten run at Upton Park to 9 games.
West Ham almost had the ball in the back of the net within a minute of the starting gun, as Aaron Cresswell fired the ball across the 6 yard area to an inbound Manuel Lanzini, who narrowly prodded it wide from all of 2 yards. The flag did go up however, so if Lanzini was to get his angles right, it would not of counted. But it was a start that Bilic couldn’t be happier with. And just 12 minutes later, that man again – Lanzini did get it right and he nodded the ball past David Ospina, who retained his starting place over Petr Cech, from a lucrative Andy Carroll overhead attempt. Likewise with Lanzini’s first chance, it was also ruled offside, a decision that proved to be incorrect. The deadlock was eventually broken after this electrifying start, but not by the Hammers. Mesut Ozil neatly placed the ball past Adrian, set up by the ever so impressive Alex Iwobi. The cracks were evident in the West Ham back line, as they left themselves overly exposed with Ozil finding far too much room in the box. The “We’ve got Ozil” chants bellowed around the Boleyn Ground.
West Ham failed to respond to the Arsenal goal, and Arsenal took advantage with a second goal. The young starlet Alex Iwobi the orchestrator again, as he lifted the ball over the Hammers back line to Alexis Sanchez who was in plenty of space. And the Chilean found the same corner as Ozil did earlier on in the game. 2-0 to Arsenal, great attack and again very questionable West Ham defending. Andy Carroll was causing havoc and did his best to disrupt Arsenal’s winning regime, which he succeeded partly with when he headed home off an Aaron Cresswell cross. It almost seemed inevitable the big man scoring with Arsenal’s struggles to contain him to this point. West Ham crossing the balls into the box were certainly causing Arsenal problems, which the Hammers recognised and acted upon, leading to the equaliser right before half time. Mark Noble chipped the ball into the box, to Andy Carroll unsurprisingly, but with not one Arsenal defender near volleyed the deflected effort into the net. Arsene Wenger will have to stricken up his defensive issues with his half time team talk.
Unfortunately that was not the case, with Carroll again being a thorn in the side of Arsenal. He drove down the line, ignoring the presence of Laurent Koscielny, leaving the ball to fall to Dimitri Payet, which was again disallowed due to an apparent Carroll foul. Only a minute after this though, West Ham hit the back of the net again, Andy Carroll completing the hat-trick. Antonio shrugged off Monreal to driver the cross to the front man who powered the header goal bound. Arsenal were speechless. Arsenal slowly but surely played their way back into the game, and almost got an equaliser from Nacho Monreal, if it wasn’t for the goal line clearance by Lanzini stopping the driven effort finding the net. But on the 70th minute mark Laurent Koscielny arrived to produce damage at the other end of the park. Ramsey the instigator, although crafted by Mesut Ozil. 3-3 and all to play for, for both sides. Aaron Cresswell and Olivier Giroud came close but both sides did well to cancel each other out in the dying nervy minutes of the game. Both sides probably feel robbed here, as Arsenal chucked a 2 goal lead away, whereas West Ham could of scored 6.
“We were [in control],” Wenger told Arsenal Player. “There are always a lot of positives. Overall, you can say it is not a bad result to draw here, but in the context of the league, where we are and what we want to achieve, it is a very bad result for us.
“I wanted to win the game. In the end we had the opportunities to score a fourth goal, but we were not calm enough. I think we rushed our game in the box and that is disappointing.
“One or two times on the counter-attack the pass didn’t come quickly enough out of the feet and that is why we missed.”
Carroll was the scourge of Arsenal – his first two goals came just 160 seconds apart – and Wenger thinks his team should have handled him better.
“We should have made life a bit more difficult for him,” said Wenger. “On the first, second and third goal, we were a bit naive defensively.”
Shots on Target: 7/6
Bookings: Carroll, Antonio