Sunday 10th April 2016
West Ham’s long haired Geordie injury prone centre forward went home with the match ball yesterday,. And good luck to him. When I used to play football every team had a player who was tall and powerful enough to be dangerous if you allowed him to have a run at penalty box bound crosses. And the Hammers’ striker can hardly be called fresh news.
Without being offensive or condescending he has little else. But, even without watching TV replays of yesterday, 2 of his goals demonstrate if you are not clever enough to pick him up or block him, he will damage you.
With it being the last time we ever go to Upton Park I am going back to my first visit.
Late season 1987 to be exact and a defeat that from a personal point of view will be remembered as a match attended by all Gooners totally on cloud nine on the back of our Wembley League Cup victory against Liverpool but a night where a Liam Brady painfully inspired West Ham beat us and those there will remember it was a lively old night in the surrounding streets too.
Adverts in today’s matchday programmes tend to consist of those from huge multi national companies, a fact that mirrors the incredibly high amounts of money involved in today’s game. Back in 1987 the commercial pages saw local TV & video rental companies, garages and pie & mash shops filling the spaces!
League table mediocrity didn’t over shadow our trophy winning season, something that has definitely changed in recent times, especially off the pitch, but a 3-1 defeat in any game is not much fun, the considerable hangovers from the previous weekend’s Wembley success probably contributing to our performance on the night!
Yesterday we needed a win. We all knew that. And for 44 minutes, not only did we look like winning but everything about what we did suggested that is exactly what we would do.
The facts though are there for all to see. We were strong, powerful and clinical in the first 44 minutes and deserved our 2 goal lead. But at half time that hard work meant little. Losing a 2 goal lead does happen in football. But when you analyse it, not very often.
Shortly after the break we were behind and the whole game changed. Our original shape was not enough against a side defending their lead.
Mr Wenger threw that dice and it genuinely was ‘shit or bust’. Laurent slammed in a deserved equaliser and we pushed for a winner that wasn’t to be. And only that winner would have taken away the disappointment of losing a 2 goal lead, whatever way you analyse the game.
I haven’t seen the highlights but I have been told that Carroll’s challenge on Gabriel was downright nasty early on and could have been deemed a red. Turned out to be quite crucial that.
I have also been told one of our host’s disallowed goals was on onside. A different decision there might have changed the whole game.
But 2 goals ahead, you don’t expect to be looking at 2-2 one minute later.
As a result there was an air of being shell-shocked at half time. A winning position had capitulated and we feared the worst.
A draw at a West Ham side who have been strong at home is not a terrible result but given the majority of Hammers fans I listened to on the way back to our usual haunt were stating if you are 2 goals down you have to be happy with a draw it probably emphasises why having been 2 goals up we are all extremely disappointed with just a point.
And why the title? Well…..in a light hearted moment one of our lot explained post match how he threw his half eaten sausage roll when our first goal went in. He said if he’d have known what was going to happen next he would have kept hold of it. And I couldn’t think of anything better.
Palace at home next.
See you on Sunday afternoon.