The way I see it - Arsenal v West Ham United

Last updated : 30 January 2009 By Jason Hogan
There are times when I think I have spent my whole life living through this kind of scenario.

Up until Robin van Persie late but oh so timely intervention on proceedings, I can imagine that a fair few Gooners up at Goodison Park on Wednesday were feeling that same sense of resignation swirling around them on a night that was fairly murky in every sense.

When I heard on the radio that Tim Cahill had put Everton ahead on the hour mark, I rolled my eyes, sighed, exhaled and shook my head. Not out of disappointment but more because long before a ball was first kicked in anger at Goodison, I felt that there were absolutely no guarantees we would be taking anything in the form of points back to London with us.

The fact that we managed to snatch a point right at the death did go some way to feeling like a win and the thick black cloud hanging over my head as I listened to the radio suddenly turned into a pale shade of grey.

I haven't had the chance to watch the game in any kind of detail but given Everton's recent form and all the question marks and doubts we Gooners have placed on the team, it's only fair to give them credit for the fact that they didn't give the game up and maintained an unbeaten run that has lasted longer than I could personally have expected.

Now it's time to take a look at our next league game at home to West Ham this weekend.

A few weeks ago, the tabloid press was laden with pictures that literally illustrated the death of West Ham United Football Club. But if the problems behind the scenes at Upton Park are affecting Gianfranco Zola and his players they have done a cracking job of hiding it.

Not even the departure of the infinitely loathsome Craig Bellamy has served to derail a West Ham side who boast six wins from their last seven games. In fact, I was genuinely pleased for the Hammers when they saw off Fulham the other day because it would have been easy for the players to use the Bellamy situation as an excuse to start feeling sorry for themselves.

I have been impressed by what I've seen of them lately and almost out of nowhere they have suddenly stumbled on a system that clearly works for them. Their midfield quartet of Parker, Noble, Behrami and Collison give the side energy and tenacity.

Unlike a few Gooners I know, I have always been a fan of Scott Parker. True, the kid is no midfield dynamo in the way that someone like Gerrard is. And yes, it's also true that he didn't quite make for one reason or another it when he got the big move to the Phoney Russian Franchise.

But I tell you what. Any side that is looking to be progressive in this league needs one or two players that will run through brick walls for the cause. I consider Parker to be one of those players and at a time where Arsenal are not exactly blessed with that type of player, I respect him all the more for it.

Behrami and Collison are also players I like the look of. The Swiss lad Behrami is one of those players who leaves you out of breath just watching him sometimes with all the work he gets through. Though he plays out on the flank he does remind me of Flamini in that respect.

And, as long as he listens, learns and keeps grafting I think Collison is a young man with a great future ahead of him. He is technically sound, mobile and has a decent level of composure. He signed a new contract recently tying him to West Ham for the next five years or so but I wouldn't be too surprised if followed the likes of Cole, Carrick, Ferdinand and Lampard on to a relatively bigger stage.

And of course, there is Carlton Cole to consider. For a few years now, the boy has been the butt of more jokes then I've had hot dinners and it's no secret that the faithful at West Ham have had it in for him as well. But when you're hot, you're hot and maybe the boy who was a prolific scorer in the youth ranks with the PRF is finally, finally becoming a man - and even a bit of a player.

Despite the fact that we are on an unbeaten, I would still be quietly fancying my chances if I was in the West Ham camp. As an Arsenal man, I don't say that as a pessimist, I say that as a realist.

The Hammers come to The Grove knowing they are great form and that they don't have anything to lose purely because the harsh light of scrutiny will not be on them. Will Arsenal handle playing with bullseyes on their backs? Better ask me again at 5pm on Saturday.