Irons show steel at Arsenal
Written By: Robert Halter
Arsenal faced West Ham United in the season opener and on nine minutes, the Gunners defence combined up field as Mathieu Debuchy’s floated delivery was put over the crossbar from a Laurent Koscielny header. Then on twelve minutes, Arsenal pressed again, as a ball across from Olivier Giroud on the left flank was only half cleared by Winston Reid, and a fierce volley from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, soared over the upright. On twenty minutes, a long range pass by Aaron Cresswell was cut back from the left by Dimitri Payet but in a goal scoring position, Diafra Sakho, could not trouble the new Gunners keeper, Petr Cech. After picking up a ball from inside his own half, Oxlade-Chamberlain went past the West Ham rear guard, before unleashing a right wing cross that was met on the volley by Santi Cazorla, before the ball nestled on top of the outside netting, in the twenty seventh minute. Five minutes later, Adrian produced an instinctive back flip, to acrobatically turn over a looping deflection off the back of Cresswell, from a blast at goal by Aaron Ramsey, which struck the upright. The Irons looked for inspiration from Payet in the thirty sixth minute, but his surging run was curtailed by a slight deflection off Oxlade-Chamberlain as the ball looped past the target. Two minutes on, a reckless foul by James Tomkins on Nacho Monreal, resulted in Cazorla’s curling free kick being turned away at full stretch by Adrian. In the fortieth minute, Monreal was back in the ascendancy as the ball was picked up from Ramsey, who drove a shot narrowly wide of the left post, The Irons took the lead, when from Payet’s free kick, Cech was left floundering and Cheikhou Kouyate, headed over the stranded Arsenal keeper in the forty third minute, after Ramsey had been penalised for dangerous play with a high kick on Reece Oxford. On fifty three minutes, as Oxford tracked back, Olivier Giroud swept the ball over from the left side and Adrian was forced to dive full length to palm the ball away to safety. Then three minutes later, a cut back by Mesut Ozil gave Giroud time to shoot inside the area, but as Reid was left vunerable, the Frenchman could only find the outside netting of the near post. Within a minute, Oxlade-Chamberlain laid the ball off for Giroud, but this time, Adrian smothered the effort. But another defensive error by Arsenal in the fifty seventh minute, gave the Claret and Blue players the upper hand, when after a slip by Francis Coquelin, the ball was given away from Oxlade-Chamberlain, and the mistake was punished by Mauro Zarate, as he turned the ball low past a hesitant Cech, into the left side of the goal, as Koscielny stood still. Zarate was then replaced by Matthew Jarvis, but on sixty five minutes, Jarvis gave away a free kick for a rash challenge on Monreal, but as the ball was swung in by Cazorla, a tame header by Giroud, was comfortably caught by Adrian. Arsenal then replaced Debuchy with Alexis Sanchez. Time was running out as Oxford deflected away a Theo Walcott strike in the seventy first minute. But there was concern for both clubs, after a nasty collision with Tomkins and Giroud in West Ham’s five yard box but the players were soon fit to continue. Another Hammers change was made as Kevin Nolan took over from Oxford. In the final ten minutes, Kouyate threaded the ball through to Sakho, but he was unable to find a way past Koscielny and then Cech. But Arsenal reacted on eighty one minutes, as Reid hooked away from the goal a strike by Walcott and as the ball rebounded off Jarvis, agonisingly Ramsey found the outside netting. Adrian then theatrically clawed away a rising shot by Cazorla in the eighty fifth minute. It was game up for Arsenal as Giroud wedged over a well weighted cross by Oxlade-Chamberlain. Sakho was then replaced by Modibo Maiga and at the end, Adrian stooped low to smother Sanchez’s low drive from an Ozil pass and then the boot of Adrian turned away another effort by Sanchez, off Ozil’s ball as the Hammers capped a 2-0 win at the Gunners.