In a sense, it was very odd that I was always confident we would score.
By and large, this performance was very similar to the West Brom game. Fabregas was dreadful, Denilson was awful, Chamakh seemed isolated up front. Okay, we had a competent keeper and the defence was more on form, but still.
It's hard to argue that Arsenal were anywhere near even a remotely good performance. Okay, Rob Green made several great saves. But to act like we're surprised by this when it has become an annual ritual seems a little facile.
Arguably, we created more chances than against West Brom. But to me, the only real difference was that West Ham came to try and cling on for a draw. I know Scott Parker and Mark Noble played really well in midfield. But there was never any attacking intent from Avram Grant; indeed, it only took about 30 minutes before they started time-wasting.
So, my belief we would score was based on two factors which weren't really related to this match per se: one, was our consistent propensity to always score late goals; the other was that our players looked markedly fitter and less fatigued than the Hammers.
And it's easy to moan when players don't do good things. To read some blogs, you'd think that between Clichy, Sagna, Eboue, Walcott, Nasri and Rosicky, there has been one good cross in their entire time at the club. Now sure, Gael Clichy doesn't produce that many great crosses. But I think the way everyone treats it as really ironic that he did on this occasion is unhelpful. I don't want to come across like some great philosopher of football, but why not stress the positives rather than the negatives?
The fact is, Clichy put a good cross in and Song scored. And being able to do that, even if not often, makes him a harder player to defend against.
On Song, I'm not going to hide from my criticism of him: I lambasted him last week saying:
"But against West Brom his poor positioning was found wanting, and his first yellow against Sunderland came from being out of position in the first place. I'd rather he did a few things right all the time, then tried to be a master of everything and only managed it some of the time."In retrospect, that was a mistake - there are clearly times when we need an extra man higher up the park, particularly if there is no cost from it. Against West Ham, we needed the extra players going forward, particularly with them sitting back. But the crucial point, that it will take a few more goals to convince me that this glut is not just a statistical quirk; if he contributes 15 goals this season, then by all means he can play further forward. But if it actually costs us, like it had been doing, it really isn't a good idea.
That said, though the team played badly, we won the game. It's impossible to play well every week. It's cliched, but the hallmark of champions is winning when things don't go your way. Football 365 always says how 'it is the Chelsea way to find a way' and that is what Arsenal have to aim at. Whether we can do, only time will tell. But West Ham has been a match we've struggled with since the move to the new stadium. Yes, it was a bad performance, both collectively and individually. But if we win anyway, we should be cheered not disappointed.
Four out of our next five games are away. The big challenge is to keep up some decent form. Here's hoping we can.
Keep the faith.
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