Overly long writings about West Ham United FC. This is the kind of thing you might like, if you like this kind of thing.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Arsenal 0 - 0 West Ham (And Other Ramblings)

1. When Is A Battering Not A Battering?

As I was sledding to work this morning, sporting an uber fashionable black suit/brown hiking boots combination, I was pondering that question.

One might say that if Saturday's game was a boxing match then it would have ended up as a murder investigation. Except, actually, it wouldn't.

If it is at all possible for a side to be comfortable in a game where they mustered only two attempts at goal, then I suppose that this was probably it. Now, I'm not saying we were the better side, or we deserved to win, or that Arsenal fans make noise, but whenever Arsene Wenger doesn't have a king sized whinge after a home draw, then you know something odd has happened.

2. Just Because It Made Me Laugh

"Body language for dummies. Aren't they a lovely couple."

3. The Statistics

Well, we've touched on this a little already but it doesn't make great aesthetic reading if you're a Hammer. Certainly the home side were marginally better in terms of creating chances, mustering an impressive twenty two(!) to our ever so slightly less impressive two. Tellingly, however, only 3 of those Arsenal efforts troubled Robert Green, which either signifies that our defence is pretty decent or that Nicklas Bendtner should consider a career change.

Elsewhere, Kolo Toure had twice as many shots as our entire team and we managed only 37% possession, which is roughly what you expect the ball boys to have. In years gone by we would have lost this game 8-0.

4. The Opposition

No matter what Arsene Wenger might tell you, there is little chance of this Arsenal team contending for the League. Admittedly they had a number of influential players missing from their lineup, but the omission of van Persie from this fixture was Wenger tacitly acknowledging that his priorities now lie elsewhere.

I was impressed by a couple of their lesser lights, especially Abou Diaby, who in a former life might very well have been described on these pages as "being made entirely of pasta", or maybe that was Lassana Diarra but either way I'm a fine judge of a player.

To my (sort of) neutral eye, I would say that Arsenal are full of lots of very good players but none who could arguably be described as the best in the Premiership at their position. Fabregas is (*grits teeth*) excellent, but I think I'd prefer Gerrard, Adebayor is formidable but he doesn't inspire fear like Torres or Thierry Henry in his pomp. They're missing a bit of the old swagger, and whilst I'm not lamenting that fact, I suppose I have to grudgingly admit that I'd rather watch Arsenal play than either Liverpool or Chelsea.

5. The Referee

This game contained nothing so coarse as tackling, so Steve Bennett didn't have huge amounts to do. The fouls were even at 13 each, which owed quite a lot to Savio coming on and getting kicked about a bit, which will happen to 12 year olds in this league.

Seriously, this game was too pedestrian for any kind of incident.

6. Our Attacking Prowess

As we only had two goal attempts, they can have their own section. The first was a header from James Collins, who really should score more goals than the zero that he currently contributes, which was cleared off the line in a thoroughly undramatic fashion.

Later, Carlton Cole turned and hit a twenty yard shot that Manuel Almunia could have saved whilst unconscious.

On second thoughts that wasn't worthy of a section at all.

7. The Curious Case Of Julien Faubert

Julien Faubert has moved to Real Madrid. Seriously, Mrs Shark just picked me up off the floor and repositioned me in front of my laptop (she's expecting another child, but exercise is good for heavily pregnant women).

I'm going to say it again. Julien. Faubert. Has. Joined. Real. Madrid.

I think Alfredo di Stefano has captured my mood fairly well. He's on the right, in case you're unsure.

7. Broken Window

As February 1 mercifully arrived with a swathe of "Sky Sports News understands..." type headlines plucked from thin air. The Club and others have been congratulating themselves for getting through the window relatively unscathed, and within the confines of the new "Football Project".

Except that I'm not seeing anything that's overly different about this January than anything we've done in the past. We sold a leading player, and replaced him with a cheaper, unproven alternative. Profit was made and not reinvested. I have little visibility or understanding of the clubs financial position, and therefore perhaps the moves made this January will save the club from administration or further asset stripping further down the line.

The bottom line is this though. We have raked in £40m in fees since the summer and only £15m has gone out on new arrivals. Doubtless, there has had to be some accounting for the Freddie Ljungberg benevolent fund, and an allowance made for the possible settlement with the fairness obsessed Sheffield United, but still there appears to have been a decent chunk of money brought in to the club. As a supporter, this doesn't interest me in the slightest as the club will never use that money to freeze the price of my season ticket or install any flashy new amenities like toilets that don't flood, so why do I care about their profit. I only care that we are still a Carlton Cole injury away from a very bad situation.

8. Have You Seen My Ghost?

Elsewhere, any adult male at the club who could play in a midfield role was packaged up and moved on, safe in the knowledge that Jonathan Spector is now recovered from injury and can cover all 11 positions and remove the need for substitutes, reserve teams, youth academies or civil servants.

It's nice to have him back.

9. Luis Boa Morte Footwear Update

Dear old Luis came on for a late run around, and didn't set off any unexploded WW2 bombs in the process. He displayed all the skills we have come to expect of him, which is to say none at all, and all the effort too, which was quite a lot.

I sincerely believe he would have been better off had he not been wearing these though...

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