Arsenal - Game Impressions

Disgust is a companion of every football fan.
Tonight I feel total disgust, maybe not for the fact that we lost to a better team, but the way we did it and that we lost our target player for maybe the next three games.

Arsenal was the better team, just like we were against Hull. But when Arsenal were unable to score they had something up their sleeve – Adebayor.

If Bellamy could convert and Phil Dowd had seen at least one of the three handballs in the area, things could have been different.

In the 70:th minute my note was “we look totally exhausted, no possession, just chasing the ball. Why does not Zola field some fresh legs?”
Yes why indeed. The whole West Ham team had been fighting hard for all of those 70 minutes and these 11 players couldn’t do it anymore. If this is a fitness thing or just what happens when you play a passing team with a lot of individual skill I don’t know, probably a combination.

An immaculate Green and the woodwork had saved us several times so far but in the 75:th minute Faubert tried to stop the ball from reaching the storming Bendtner but ended up placing it in his own net.
These things happen but we fought for so long and so hard and our hopes of getting away with it were rising which adds to the pain.
The second goal is also just one of those things that happen. We had to push.

Why did we lose?

Lack of technique!
Cole is a very good target player, and he has learned to receive, turn and advance. Now he also needs to get his technique up to par and maybe Zola can teach him how to receive, turn and not stumble on the ball… I stopped counting the times he lost possession. He is no great passer either. A couple of times he had the chance to play the ball to someone running into the box, but he hesitaded every time. To me it's better to try and fail in those situations. There aren't that many!
Anyway he will be greatly missed the next 3 games since he is the best target player we have.

Lack of fight for the midfield
The midfield fell back into the lap of the back 4. This was most evident in the last 30' of the game but was noticable throughout. Parker sometimes actually merged with the central defence. This let the Arsenal playmakers to do their job without any pressure.

Parker does a tremendous job and you just know that the yellow will finally come. He does however take too much time to deliver his passes and he needs to mix the 10 yard passes with some longer ones or a one touch pass at times. Having said that, the one touch deep pass that put Bellamy almost free in the 29' is a beauty and shows us that he has it in him, just need to get it out more often. There is much more one can do from his position.

The midfield ended up in the lap of the defence quite early in the game, still hesitating to attack the one on the ball. Maybe they were afraid to concede free kicks, but this allowed Fabregas and especially Walcott, while still on, to get way to close without being under any real pressure.

Mullins, he surprised me with some good intentions in an unfamiliar position and tried some offensive play I didn’t know he had in him. But was inconsistent and frankly this position need a better player. Behrami was sidelined as a precaution and greatly missed!
When the wind had been knocked out of most of our players Behrami would have kept on running. It’s vital to have such a player against a team that makes you chase the ball a lot.

Bowyer tried and while the game was still close he did some decent runs into the box. Also were OK in the defence, and didn’t plunge in and get fooled as I was afraid. Noble can learn a thing or two from Bowyer about movement.

Bellamy and Di Michele tried and showed some really good intentions, however neither of them have the ability to beat defenders one on one. There need to be at least one striker (or at the very least one offensive midfielder) that has this ability. In this team, the only one that can do that is Ilunga!
Bellamy worked really hard in the defence as did Di Michele. But that also and inevitably used up their strength and in the last 1/3 of the game they were too tired to do anything creative.
I thought this would be the perfect game for Bellamy, finally having some room for his pace. But why didn't Di Michele come of much earlier?

Why were we close?
The attitude was great! Everybody was doing whatever they could, and still some, to get something out of this, Hats off to the whole team for the determination.

Green showed us how good he can be. I feel sorry for him. He deserved to be the hero today!

Collins! I couldn’t in my wildest dreams believe that he would be this good in his first team comeback. I’m deeply impressed.
Upson was less dominant in the center, but maybe because he now had someone to share the responsibility with. Very good performance of both of them against a very difficult opponent.

Neill had a virus and I can’t see him get back into the centre of defence unless the injury list grows.

However there is no room for Neill on the wings either.
Ilunga did well against a lively Walcott and with one or two exceptions were in the right place at the right time. He was not as offensively inclined today but that just tells us that he knows when to do what. Still he delivered some nice passes and is good on the ball. As I already said, sadly he may possess the best technique in our side.

Faubert also had a decent game and didn’t loose the ball as much as he sometimes does. Neither did he go on mindless attacking runs abandoning his right back spot too much. He can't be blamed for the goal.

The 4-3-2-1 system used today almost worked, and if we had been able to get some possession so we hadn't been forced to run our asses off for most of the second half maybe we would have gotten away with a point.
In a way we deserved better!


hakan said...

The system Zola uses seem to rely quite heavily on a target player like Cole or Ashton. What will happen against United on Wednesday with both of them unavailable? Should he change the system or play Tristan?

Joppe - said...

Tristan hasn't even played for the reserves yet and is said not to be fit enough.

Many people on UK West Ham forums want us to play Sears!
Not exactly a target player, but they see this game as lost allready so it doesn't matter!!

I can't come up with a viable solution either, 5-5-0?

There are some rumours that there will be an appeal against the red card, maybe postponing his ban.
Appeal, OK, but for the sake of postponing doesn't make any sense to me we really need him in the side even more against the likes of Pompey and Sunderland.

hakan said...

A desperate solution could be to play a central defender up front, but I'm not sure if any of them have anything remotely resembling attacking skills. Probably better to go for The Three Midgets and tell them to move around a lot. Their task might not be impossible. United's defence looked shaky against Everton.

Joppe - said...

My guess is Parker, Bowyer, Behrami (if fit, otherwise LBM) Etherington and Mullins in a 5 man midfield (or as close to it as we're ever going to see) and Bellamy in front of them.

We desperately need people that has the ability to run for 96 minutes!

Sears on in the 73:rd for Bellamy.
Davenport on as "tall guy" in the 82:nd to try to equalize and Collison on in the 89:th as a time waster to hang on to the point ;-)

hakan said...

The Sun (not the most reliable source) today claims that "Diego Tristan is facing a baptism of fire for West Ham at Manchester United" after Zola opted not to appeal against Cole's red card. I still feel Bellamy is a more likely, and better, choice.

Joppe - said...

It doesn't make sense!
Not fit for the reserves - fit to meet Rio/Vidic?

hakan said...

Vidic would probably find it easier to deal with a half-fit Tristan than the speed of Bellamy.

Joppe - said...

I mean it doesn't make sence that Tristan playes at all.
I agree with you on bellamy, his attitude and work rate was great against Arsenal.

Most important in the ManUre game is not to let our midfield stand as a second string of defenders 5 yards in front of the back 4 as soon as ManU has the ball.

hakan said...

Do you know where I could find a good livestream of the game?