David Hautzig's Match Report
There is a 500 pound gorilla in the room. And I’m going to get it out of the way. Because I want to. And yes, it will make roughly half of you mad. I shall deal.
Marko. His brother says he wants to chase trophies in China. I know nothing about these trophies, and short of some of the greatest food available on the planet I see no reason a footballer would want to move there.
Ohhhhhh yeeaaaaahhhh. Money. Lots of money. Well, if money and soup dumplings are what float your boat, who am I to judge? I myself love soup dumplings, and I could always use more dough.
You all know the supposed offer. In the end, the most relevant point is this; if accepted, West Ham would profit roughly 3.9 million pounds. That would represent an 18% profit in 18 months. This much I can tell you. If you owned anything, whether it was a stock or a bond or a stamp and you showed an 18% growth in value in 18 months, you should be pleased. Especially if there was a decent chance that commodity would begin to depreciate sooner than later. Your financial advisor would put a sell tag on it straight away. I understand this is football, not Wall Street. But they are equally ruthless.
Even with the offer said to be on order, show the man and his brother the door.
We hardly ever beat those guys. And often going into a match, we think we have a chance. They have injuries, they are soft in the middle, all sorts of things. And then we lose. Other than the drama surrounding Arnautovic, the inclusion of Nasri in the starting eleven was intriguing. He showed glimpses of what he is capable of against Birmingham. Some pundits and podcasters lauded him to the heavens. I didn’t see it that way, but that doesn’t mean I saw it correctly. Well, he set up the winner today so I’m thinking maybe I was wrong.
The first moment of excitement came in the 6th minute when Antonio went on a run down the right, somehow kept the ball in play, and rolled a pass to Noble at the top of the Arsenal eighteen yard box. A few more touch passes around the area and Noble had space and a look at goal. But his shot was feather soft and rolled easily into the arms of Leno. Moments later Lacazette attempted a volley from 25 yards out that was closer than it looked to be at first. While I may have had a tough time waking up, the match started to.
Arsenal asked their first question of Fabianski in the 13th minute when Iwobi sent a through ball for Lacazette to run onto. The one time imaginary target for West Ham ran through the West Ham defense and got a hard shot off that Fabianski blocked but did not hold onto. Thankfully the rebound was too high for Lacazette to handle and he sent it over the bar.
Arsenal threatened again in the 22nd minute when Kolasinac broke down the right and got behind the West Ham defense. He tried to send a low cross into the box for Lacazette but Rice was there to intercept and clear the danger. Moments later West Ham won a corner, but Cresswell’s delivery was too high for anyone of human height to handle.
The Hammers had a decent spell of possession halfway through the first forty five minutes. Nasri and Arnautovic worked well together to open up space for the former Gunner but the dream of scoring against his former club curled high and wide. Then Arnautovic looked ready to slam a shot but Sokratis put in a world class tackle to thwart the Austrian. Minutes later Noble sent a long ball for Arnautovic. After fighting off Mustafi for the ball, he laid it off for Nasri. The newest Hammer showed great presence of mind to wait for Anderson to run into the box, and as he arrived the ball was there. Unfortunately for the home side, his low shot just missed.
Funny moment here on NBC. Arlo White quoted Arnautovic’s brother, saying Marko should be allowed to go to China to fight for titles.
“Oh stop it” was the reply from Graeme Le Saux. I laughed pretty hard.
The do-over is something rarely seen outside of the playground or school yard. But in the last minute of the first half, Zabaleta won a corner. Anderson stepped up to take it, and totally flubbed it. But Moss saw tussling in the box and ordered Anderson to take it again. The do-over was much better, and Rice got under it. But he tried to direct his header into the corner, and it went wide. A touch with his forhead would have likely at least hit the target. Youthful exuberance got the best of him.
West Ham 0
West Ham started the second half on the front foot. Anderson won a free kick 25 yards from goal. Cresswell’s delivery whipped into the box and Mustafi had no choice but to send it out for a corner. The visitors handled that set piece, but they couldn’t get the ball out of danger. Noble intercepted a clearance and got the ball wide to Anderson. The record signing ran to the end line and passed to Nasri in the box. Like in the first half with Anderson, Nasri showed that patience can be more than a virtue. It can be a weapon. A little roll to Rice, and the young man guided the ball behind Leno for his first ever EPL goal.
West Ham 1
The Hammers kept up the pressure with a superb run into the box by Anderson. After dribbling around close to 132 Arsenal defenders, he won a corner. Then Noble was mistaken for the ball near the corner flag by Lacazette, a mistake which earned the Arsenal striker a foul and Anderson another free kick. It was a good display for football and fortitude by West Ham.
Arsenal created a half chance in the 63rd minute when Maitland-Niles won a tussle with Anderson near the corner flag and was able to send the ball into the box for Ramsey. After trying to create some space, the soon to be Juventus player crossed to Aubameyang but his header went over the bar. Moments later Kolasinac broke down the left and rolled the ball into the box for the onrushing Aubameyang, but Cresswell tracked back and did just enough to force the Arsenal forward to rush his shot and send it over the bar. A few minutes later, Iwobi just missed with a low shot from the left side of the box. Arsenal were knocking.
The conventional wisdom is that you don’t make a substitution before you defend a corner. Granted, Andy Carroll is very good defensively on set pieces. Thankfully, West Ham didn’t have to defend at all when AC and Snodgrass came on. The corner flew out before it ever hit the ground.
As the match entered its final ten minutes, the TV presenters here said that Arsenal had won eight points this season in the final ten minutes of a match, the most in the Premier League. Pellegrini probably heard that and made the sensible switch of Obiang for Antonio. Still, Arsenal being Arsenal, the threat was there and very real.
As the fourth official showed three minutes of stoppage time, I wondered a few things. First, where did those minutes come from? Second, what happened to the final ten minutes of the half? I had written nothing. Not because nothing happened. I just watched football. West Ham were doing a fantastic job of closing out a match they would never have closed out in most years. But from back to front, let’s be clear.
We Were The Better Side.
West Ham 1
The announced attendance was close to 60,000. We played a possession and pressing style of football. We won against an Arsenal team undergoing its own rebirth. Pellegrini has crafted the beginning of what I hope will be a West Ham team that will give us more days like today.
A good day for sure.