Arsenal 0 West Ham United 0: Where's Robin when you need him?

Last updated : 01 February 2009 By Brian Dawes
Right now we are lacking effective width and although we have plenty of players able and more than a little willing to play centrally the problems arise when they come to spray the ball wide. Because the only men in red shirts near the touchline are the overlapping Sagna and Clichy. This is fine because they are both good players, but it is also predictable and gives our opponents time to regroup. West Ham however didn't even need to regroup because the great footballing academy that pretends to be all about playing the beautiful game as it should be played planted ten men in their own half and left just Cole up front on his jack jones. Arsenal needed a Rosicky or a Walcott or a Wilshere playing wide.

You could almost feel the crowd give a collective sigh of relief when Eboue went down injured. 'Something serious I hope' was one comment I overheard. Quite why Eboue was playing centrally at the time was a mystery, but it certainly wasn't for his shooting ability. Granted he did actually shoot which has a certain rarity factor at Arsenal but one of his shots almost hit the corner flag while the other dribbled along the ground with all the force of a miss-hit back pass to the keeper. Vela replaced him and gave us a bit of width whilst Bendtner went wide right and worked quite hard and quite effectively. But it wasn't enough.

Watching this game was like watching a practice session where two teams are kicking into the one goal but were for some reason, best beknown to the coach, not being allowed to score.

I may be mental, but all through the game I felt we were bound to win it if only because it was just so one-sided. But without the cutting edge of Robin, who's bum was planted firmly on the bench until too late, we were just lacking the required bite. Why is it Robin so rarely plays three games in a week, there has to be a reason? Like I said, Eboue shot from range but no one else was willing to give it a go. And for such a one-sided game possession wise our shot count of fifteen was poor, not as abject as the Shammers two efforts but certainly not enough given that we were camped in their half for the entire second period. Rick O'Shay was the man we really wanted and he only turns up when you have a pop at goal, even if the chances of scoring are minimal - just ask Lumphard.

Don't get me started on Steve Bennett you could almost see him thinking - 'What would Fergie want me to do here?' Every corner we had was a predictable free kick to the Shammers, no matter who was actually doing the pushing. The free kicks he gave, and didn't give were designed purely to wind me up and it worked a treat. Our players were lectured alongside defenders who were the ones grabbing the shirt. He booked Vela for simulation and you knew he was just loved that, having made his mind up prior to kick off. So ok Carlos went down in the box, but it was under pressure and it was hardly a double somersault and pike type dive. When Vela was battered in the box on another run you just knew Bennett would not be giving us a pen, because he only gives them to teams playing in red at Old Trafford. The way Bennett flounces around the pitch with his nose stuck high in the air like General De Gaul and the sort of face you'd expect from a headmaster lecturing disorderly kids gets on my tits. If ever there was a nose waiting to be broken it is surely his.

In the first half I only recall a Diaby header skimming the West Ham bar. Our best chance fell to Adebayor in the second half, who headed hard and down, just as you should. But also straight at the keeper, just as you shouldn't when perfectly placed. Green did make at least one other fine save but I don't recall who had the shot. Our best move involved Sagna on the right and when the cross came in Ade seemed to use his wrong foot to stab it past the wrong side of the post. Denilson also went reasonably close with a shot from range but the bottom line was that we just didn't shoot anywhere near often enough.

As if a nil-nil draw wasn't depressing enough right at the death there was a major delay to proceedings that saw Diaby stretchered off. It looked a bad injury. The guy has just started to play really well again but unfortunately for both him and us it just seems like he's injury prone. Looking on the bright side for Abou at least he'll have plenty of company in the treatment room.

Hearing that the Totts lost their match in the last minute lightened my mood a tad but we've all had far better days at the Arsenal. Not too many this season however.