That’s as comfortable a 2-0 victory as you’re ever likely to see. An opener after barely a minute, some mild danger from the opponents, then another goal after 18 minutes and you knew there was no way West Ham were going to repeat their heroics of a few days earlier.
Eduardo got the first and it was the kind of goal I suspect Arsene Wenger bought him for. Cesc crossed from our left and the Crozilian controlled it on his chest, swivelled and fired it past Robert Green. Arsene described him afterwards as a ‘clinical finisher’ and that was his 10th goal of the season. He still looks like he might need to bulk up a bit to improve his general play but he’s now really beginning to show why we spent as much money on him as we did.
The second came when Gael Clichy (who was top class again) played a lovely long pass between the two central defenders and Adebayor, who is really very quick, got ahead of them, nodded the ball past the onrushing Green, then just before it was going out of play and from a seemingly impossible angle he clipped it with his left foot, it went past the defender who was trying to get back, hit the far post and went in. Look and see (via 101greatgoals.com). He’s scored some good goals this season and this was another one.
There wasn’t a whole lot more to the game really. West Ham were pretty toothless (Freddie lasted about half an hour before picking up another injury and he left the field to a warm reception from the Arsenal fans) and we didn’t give them too much trouble. Green saved from Rosicky, Adebayor lobbed one not far wide and Theo Walcott showed a glimpse of what he’s about with a fantastic turn away from the defender but sadly his shot wasn’t of the same quality and it was easy for Green to get hold of. However, it did look like we’re beginning to get a bit more of the old fluency in our game back which augurs well for the games ahead.
Afterwards Arsene said:
We were quite comfortable in the second half and overall this Christmas period has been absolutely great for us because we had four difficult games and we come out with one draw and three wins. If you add Chelsea – four wins and one draw. We have belief, we have talent, we are ready to fight. This team is hungry.
Which is good because the fans are hungry too. I could eat a great big trophy right now. Mmmmm, crunchy. The boss talks about preferring to be ‘hunted’ than doing the hunting and I’d rather be two points ahead than two points behind, no question about it. United and Chelsea are grinding out the results too (I wonder will James Lawton, so critical of Cesc’s reaction to actually being hit in the face, write a piece condemning Michael Ballack for his second penalty winning dive in as many games. I doubt it) so there’s a big scrap ahead in the next few months. Bring it on.
Our next league game isn’t until the 12th when we entertain Birmingham but there are a couple of cup games before that. We’ve got Burnley away in the FA Cup on Saturday before we have the first of the Carling Cup games against Sp*rs. I suspect we’ll see some rotation of the squad in those games to keep people fresh for the league and it’ll be a chance to enjoy some games without the same amount of pressure as the league.
We also say goodbye to some of our African players. Kolo, Eboue and Alex Song will all be going to the African Cup of Nations and we probably won’t see them for 5 or 6 weeks. I suppose it would suit us if their countries did really, really badly so they could come home early. Perhaps we should have installed Steve McClaren as manager of the Ivory Coast, curses. After the West Ham game though the boss did say he wasn’t going to dip into the transfer market to cover the absences. We do have Johann Djourou back from his loan spell at Birmingham, Matthew Connolly is back from Colchester (although he could be on his way to QPR) and if there are any injuries to the centre-halves I suppose Gilberto can fill in if required.
The transfer window is open and there’s the possibility we might lose a player or two. Lassana Diarra is still unhappy and there is genuine interest in him from a number of clubs, Portsmouth and Everton in particular. Jens will have to sort his situation out as well but we’ll bring you news on those things when they happen.
Right, that’s about all I’ve got this morning. It’s time to dust off the cobwebs and get back to work, boooo. More tomorrow.