Saturday, September 29, 2007

West Ham vs. Arsenal: Match Review

Match Preview

Arsenal remained at the top of the table today as they beat West Ham thanks to a 13th minute header from Robin van Persie. Manchester United have yet to play, but even if they win Arsenal will be 2 points ahead with a game in hand. Currently, our closest rivals are Manchester City who 3 points behind, having played one more game.

Arsene Wenger's gunners finally broke their bad spell against West Ham, making it 8 straight wins in all competitions. However, this win was not nearly as convincing as the 5-0 drubbing of Derby or the 3-0 victory over Sevilla.

West Ham: Robert Green; Anton Ferdinand, George McCartney, Lucas Neil, Matthew Upson; Lee Bowyer, Freddy Ljungberg, Mark Noble, Scott Parker; Henri Camara, Dean Ashton

Arsenal: Manuel Almunia; Bacary Sagna, Kolo Toure, Philippe Senderos, Gael Clichy; Abou Diaby, Mathieu Flamini, Cesc Fabregas, Alex Hleb; Emmanuel Adebayor, Robin van Persie

Arsenal came out of the gates galloping, and Emmanuel Adebayor missed narrowly wide in the first minute after a cross from Abou Diaby.

Dean Ashton had West Ham's first chance not too much later as he shot just over Almunia's crossbar in what was to be a frustrating night for the in-form striker.

Robin van Persie scored the first goal for Wenger's young guns in the 13th minute, heading the ball in after a spot-on cross from late inclusion Alex Hleb.

Ashton then thought he had a second chance, but was flagged for a dubious offside call. There weren't too many complaints though, as Manuel Almunia (who looked secure in goal throughout the game) came out to block his shot.

In the 31st minute, Alex Hleb was taken off after a rash tackle from Mark Noble saw him injured. Wenger had an able replacement for the right wing in Emmanuel Eboue, but it would be disappointing if Hleb were to be sidelined for an extended period of time.

The game's pace started to slow as the end of the first half approached, and despite 5 minutes of added time, nobody else could find the net.

The second half started as the first had - with frenetic pace. Dean Ashton once again missed two great chances to put West Ham ahead in a half full of near misses.

In the 57th minute, Ashton looked sure to score following a cross from Lee Bowyer. However, his weak header fell straight into the hands of Manuel Almunia, rather than in the back of the net.

Then, in the 84th minute, Ashton once again latched onto a cross (this time from a corner) only to see his headed cleared in front of goal by the left foot of Robin van Persie.

Arsenal missed their fair share of chances as well though, as Adebayor failed to round Robert Green in a 1 on 1, and Mathieu Flamini saw a few long distance strikes parried away by the West Ham 'keeper.

Regardless of the missed chances, Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal board will be happy with the win and the extended period at the top of the table. With a midweek Champions League match against Steaua Bucharest coming up, it also looks as though Arsenal's winning streak will be extended to 9. A great result for any Arsenal fan...