The way I see it - West Ham United v Arsenal

Last updated : 28 September 2007 By Jason Hogan
However, nothing in recent years has given me more of a genuine sense of pride than seeing the youngsters walk out at the Millenium Stadium ahead of last years Carling Cup final. The result on the day didn't matter all that much to me personally as a fan though I was genuinely sad for the youngsters who had given their more exalted and experienced opponents all the problems they could handle on the afternoon.

What made the whole occasion meaningful for me was that, having beaten full strength sides from West Brom, Everton and Tottenham as well as beating Liverpool in their own back yard to get there, Arsene's philosophy of bringing in young players instead of buying all sorts of experienced players for pretentious amounts of money had been vindicated before a ball had even been kicked in Cardiff and that the future of the club was a lot brighter than a lot of people believed.

Most of the lads who featured in last year's final - Diaby, Denilson, Traore, Hoyte, Senderos and Walcott were on duty again on Tuesday night as this years Carling Cup campaign got underway for Arsenal and with a little help from one or two of their friends, the Arsenal put on an excellent display to dispose of a near full strength Newcastle side.

Whilst listening to the game, I swear I had about a thousand and one flashbacks to last year as the Arsenal lads led assault after assault on the Magpies goal only to be denied time and again by a mixture of dogged last ditch defending, bad luck, bad finishing and great goalkeeping.

But, as has been the way in so many games this season, we have kept going, refused to be denied and eventually we found a way to break the resistance of the opposition.

Nicklas Bendtner scored the opener after 83 minutes with a header that reminded me of one or two Alan "Smudger" Smith scored for us back in his day at the club though a lot the credit should go to young Traore whose umpteenth sortie down the left hand produced a cross that begged to be put away.

It was Bendtner's first senior goal in a competitive match for the Arsenal but he was not alone in achieving that landmark that night. Denilson produced an absolute rocket from 20-odd yards to settle the tie right at the death. It was certainly no mean way to open your account in Arsenal colours.

And so, as Arsenal booked their place in the next round all that was left for Magpies boss Sam Allardyce was to do what he does best whenever his team loses - bemoan his lot. He claimed his lads were fatigued and Arsenal only capitalised on the fact that his team ran out of legs after playing just over 48 hours earlier in the league.

Funny that. Allardyce wasn't bemoaning such things before the game. Instead, he was going round claiming that Arsene created the animosity between the two of them by disrespecting him. And then, he made a load of bullish statements about how he knew how to beat Arsenal and how Arsene hadn't quite worked out how he sets his team out tactically.

This is why I can't stand Allardyce. He is the biggest hypocrite in the English game. It's bad enough that he has spent years making a name for himself amongst the Little Englanders in the press and the media by sniping at Arsene and Arsenal Football Club.

But the fact that the fat overgrown turd has had the cheek to call Arsene a whinger and being a bad loser who blames everything other than his own side for defeats really sticks in my craw. Because when it comes to that particular trait, Allardyce has proved time and again to be more than adept in those departments himself.

One of his classic whinge laden anecdotes was when Allardyce once claimed that he didn't get the credit he deserved in the game because his name wasn't "Allardicio". If I were him, I would be counting my blessings because if anything the chances are the press and the media would have assassinated his character in the way they have assassinated Arsene's a long time ago.

Looking back to last Saturday, I have to say I was more than delighted with the way we disposed of Derby. It didn't matter a jot that the Rams how much the Rams have been belittled and cast as whipping boys. They came to the Emirates on the back of a win, some thing they didn't do when they went to Shite Hart Lane or Anfield and got spanked.

The fact of the matter is that we dropped points against a lot of teams that finished in the bottom half of the table last term at home as well as away so we didn't go into the game with any divine right to think victory was a formality.

It was certainly a game that Manu Adebayor will remember for a very long time as he bagged his first term for the Arsenal.

As I have said before this is a very big season for the lad. He has the chance to really make a name for himself at Arsenal and chiefly with the assistance of Van Persie, Le Boss is clearly looking to him to grab the opportunity he has been given.

I really hope Ade takes it. He has demonstrated so far this season that he has the ability to do things out of the ordinary (the volley at Shite Hart Lane for example) now he has to show that he can deliver and be composed in font of goal week in, week out. I wish the boy luck I really do.

Now it's time to look at Saturday's trip to Upton Park where of course we will play West Ham.

Having got the pardon of all pardons from the constitutionally inept Premier League in order to maintain their top flight status, The Hammers made hay in the transfer market in the summer.

Whilst guys like Nigel Reo-Coker and Marlon Harewood shipped out a whole host of faces arrived in the summer. Unfortunately the Hammers were deprived of the services of Julien Faubert and Keiron Dyer virtually straight after signing them.

Still, they did make some other useful signings. Scott Parker is back in circulation after being out through injury himself straight after reuniting with Curbishley. I have a lot of time for this lad and now that he is back with his old boss it will be no surprise if this boy eventually rediscovers the form that got him the England set up as a Charlton player.

Craig Bellamy may be a complete arsehole but in all fairness the boy can play and he will definitely be an asset to the Hammers if he can keep his head down and his nose clean (Hmmm).

Upton Park has been a retirement home for a fair few ex-Arsenal boys down the years and there are two on the books at Upton Park right now in the shape of Boa Morte and Ljungberg.

But without question the danger man for us on Saturday is Dean Ashton. He may be back after a long lay off and he may not still be 100%. But in my opinion this boy, pound for pound, is the best young English prospect in the game today.

A lot of people have said that he reminds them of Sheringham but for me, Ashton reminds me a little of a new and improved version of David Cross, a West Ham centre forward from the late seventies, early eighties. Ashton is big, strong and though he is not the quickest, he has a great touch and his awareness of other players is top drawer.

The vibe on the street is that a lot of people actually fancy West ham to turn us over this weekend. All this optimism stems no doubt from the fact that the Hammers somehow managed to win the last three league meetings in a row.

Am I offended by that in any way? No chance. I see it as an added incentive. Once again this is a game that captures the essence of what our entire season is about - proving people wrong.

I love the way that our critics are now changing tack and saying that we are only top of the league because we haven't played anybody yet and most of our games have been at home. Those are the musings of people who are trying to save a little face having clearly got their assumptions wrong about us in the summer and I see it as though we have gained a small moral victory over them.

Playing at Upton Park can either be a blessing or a curse for West Ham. The fans do get behind the team there but they are also very quick to turn on their own if things are not going so well.

I think that it's not ability that will decide the game for Arsenal, it's our mental focus. They will attempt to intimidate us both on and off the pitch so we need to really focus in on what our objectives are on Saturday.

The bottom line is we have a score to settle with this lot and I want some payback. I hope the lads are up for this as much as I am. If they are they shouldn't go far wrong.