Song's high note sounds little off key to Wenger
Arsenal 1 West Ham United 0
Sunday 31 October 2010
The Arsenal fans are often accused of being some of the quietest in the country, but they found their voice after their 88th-minute winner, belting out the refrain, "We've only got one Song" in honour of their match-winner, Alex Song.
Arsenal themselves were slightly off tune, missing the invention of the suspended Jack Wilshere and with Cesc Fabregas not quite at his best. Yet they created more than enough chances to win the game by a distance and would have done so but for the form of the West Ham goalkeeper Robert Green whose performance almost earned his side an unlikely point. Almost, but not quite. Despite the array of attacking talent on the pitch for Arsenal, the game was won by two of their more defensive players. The left-back Gaël Clichy pushed forward and moved inside before laying an inviting ball across the goalmouth which Song converted with his head.
Their manager Arsène Wenger was mightily relieved, although he warned that Song gets forward a little too regularly for his liking. "We didn't do anything stupid and tried to be intelligent and that is why we scored," Wenger said. "Song had three good chances, he has added that to his game. He has got the taste to go forward, sometimes a little too much for a holding midfielder."
Arsenal, returning to the Emirates on the back of a pair of crushing away victories, 3-0 at Manchester City and 4-0 at Newcastle United, started brightly but lost their way.
West Ham stood up well to the task of keeping Arsenal at arm's length from their goal, with striker Victor Obinna asked to play wide on the left of a five-man midfield. With Scott Parker bristling with aggression and Mark Noble full of running, West Ham maintained their shape with a discipline that belied their position at the foot of the Premier League.
Green was the game's outstanding performer, providing evidence that he is moving on after his World Cup howler for England against the USA. He pulled off three quite outstanding saves in the first half to keep West Ham on level terms.
Green dived at full stretch to deny a shot from Fabregas which crowned an incisive passing move involving Song and Bacary Sagna. Minutes later he swooped low to his right for a one-handed reflex save in answer to Song's drive from the angle. And before the half was out Green had tipped away Sébastien Squillaci's arching header following a corner.
The match continued in much the same vein in the second half, as the level of Arsenal frustration began to grow. Samir Nasri struck the bar with a glorious swerving free-kick from 35 yards and Marouane Chamakh could do no better with a header than guide it straight into the arms of Green.
Wenger introduced Theo Walcott and the winger went close when he fired a shot across Green which struck the far post and rebounded into the arms of the grateful keeper.
Arsenal however did not panic and were rewarded with Song's goal that keeps West Ham rooted to the bottom of the League. Hammers manager Avram Grant tried to cling to positives. "We are not in a situation where we cannot do it," he said. "Even if we were in April it would not be the end of the world. We need to turn good performances into results."
Referee: Michael Jones
Man of the match: Green
Match rating: 6/10
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