October 7, 2012
I really loved our first goal yesterday.
I love the way we fought our way back into the game having gone behind to the first shot we faced. We’d dominated up to that point and could easily have scored a couple ourselves so to find ourselves a goal down heads could well have dropped. They didn’t. We just got on with the job.
I love how simple and direct it was. No need to pick our way through a defence with fiddly one touch football, just a ball out to Podolski and a fizzing cross to the near post.
I love that we had a centre forward in there that was prepared to take a gamble at that near post. I thought Giroud was excellent yesterday. He held the ball up well, he brought others into play, he showed some great footwork outside the box, he laid on Theo for our second with a beautifully weighted ball and he was an absolute menace in the West Ham box.
I love that Arteta started the move by picking Diame’s pocket in the middle of the field. He shouldn’t even have been on the pitch at that point, his terrible challenge on Arteta somehow not warranting a second yellow from Phil Dowd, presumably because he felt a red would have been harsh considering the first yellow was for celebrating with the crowd after scoring the opener. I’m not saying I agree ‘going over to the crowd’ deserves a yellow in the first place – What kind of game exactly do we want when we’re discouraging players from celebrating scoring goals? – but if you are going to issue them they need to actually count. You can’t have degrees of yellow. You can’t go back and say it’s not really a proper yellow. No one’s going to know where the hell they stand.
Giroud could have already had his name on the score sheet by the time he got us back on track. His smart snap shot early on was well saved at the near post by Jaaskelainen and his shot inside the box looked destined for the roof of the net before Andy Carroll got his big face in the way. But he’s just the sort of player who keeps finding himself in great positions and a player like that is bound to score goals.
The fallacy of his supposed goal drought was underlined yesterday by the statistics being pumped out to supposedly support it. Every news outlet is screaming this morning about him ‘ending his drought’ by telling us that it had been 303 minutes of Premier League football that he hadn’t scored. 303 minutes!! Bloody hell! Imagine that! That’s…what? Just over three games that he hadn’t scored in. What a story! And I suppose none of us are supposed to even mention the fact that he scored in the league cup all the way back through the mists of time on, erm…September 26th.
Having fought our way back into the game you might have expected it to be plain sailing from then on. That wasn’t quite the case. We definitely struggled at times with those high balls into the box and really found Carroll a difficult man to deal with. I’m guessing we won’t be the only ones this season but if Kevin Nolan had had his shooting boots on yesterday from those knock downs we could well have paid for it. Carroll should have got one himself after embarrassingly managing to outleap Mannone only to see the ball float harmlessly wide.
But in the end our quality told. Giroud’s ball to Walcott was great but Theo still had plenty to do. He did it faultlessly. The first touch was a gem to allow him to outpace the defender, he took a little look across goal and then just passed the ball home at the near post with the second touch. That was a mature and intelligent finish and another slap in the face for the Theo haters. Four goals already this season. And he’s only started two games.
Of course the icing on the cake was Cazorla’s late strike. He’s been threatening to score goals like that all season. When he gets the ball in a tiny bit of space outside the opposition box they don’t know whether to back off in anticipation of a through ball or close down to block the shot and the more finishes like that he hits the more confused they’ll be. It was a fantastic strike, not just how clean he hit it but the way he gave the entire defence and goalkeeper the eyes. Everyone in the stadium thought he was going for the curler inside the right hand post. They were all wrong.
Staggeringly he almost managed to top that with the defence splitting ball he put through for Giroud late on. The Frenchman lacked the nous to just lift the ball over the keeper. If he had done that goal would have been watched and rewatched for years to come.
With another international break now upon us it was essential to nab the three points yesterday. It puts us in a reasonable position when we get back ahead of three very winnable games against Norwich, Reading and QPR.
The only apparent injury concern was Kieran Gibbs who seemed to have picked up a thigh strain. Hopefully not too serious. Not as serious at least as Ricardo Vaz Te who dislocated his shoulder in the second half after he “fell heavily after colliding with Arsenal goalkeeper Vito Mannone” according to the BBC Sport website.
Terribly sad news that but maybe he’ll think twice next time he tries to kick someone in the head, eh?
Instant Karma’s gonna get you…