West Ham 1-2 Arsenal  

Monday, 4 January 2010

Arsene Wenger calmly claimed it had been “just a matter of time“ before Arsenal played their way to victory over West Ham in the FA Cup last night.

But for 25 minutes of a frenetic second half at Upton Park, Arsenal’s Carling Cup side were following Manchester United out of the other domestic cup competition.

Alessandro Diamanti gave the Hammers a deserved lead on the stroke of half-time and Gianfranco Zola’s side had chances to kill off the tie.

And not until the 65th minute, when Wenger finally replaced two teenagers with two internationals, did Arsenal finally show the difference in class between the third and 17th-placed team in the Premier League.

Wenger insisted he thought the FA Cup was “fantastic“ but then immediately admitted Manchester United would now have an advantage in the Premier League and Champions League by going out.

Arsenal face a season-defining run of games against top sides in the Premier League between the next two rounds.

Yet after winning no silverware since the 2005 FA Cup final, it is a trophy the ten-times winners were not prepared to give up on yesterday.

Aaron Ramsey and Eduardo scored the goals in the final 12 minutes but the excellent Abou Diaby and Samir Nasri provided the class and needed width from the bench to avoid another cup shock.

Their dubious reward is a trip to Stoke in the next round. “We had a very difficult first half against a committed West Ham side,” said Wenger.

“They were well organised and won many 50-50s and were quicker on the ball. The second half we played at a higher tempo and West Ham dropped a little bit physically and we could make the difference in the final 20 minutes. It was just a matter of time.”

Wenger made five changes from the team which beat Portsmouth in the Premier League last Wednesday with Andrei Arhavin joining Cesc Fabregas on the nine-man injury list.

But with the chance to go second in the Premier League on Wednesday night, the French manager still did not start with his strongest team and nearly paid the price.

“The FA matters,” he insisted. “The team I picked today was because I wanted to win. The problem we had was that we have played Sunday, Wednesday and will play again on Wednesday at Bolton and against Everton on Saturday. So you cannot play with the same 11 players.”

The first 45 minutes of the encounter were as forgettable as Upton Park was freezing.

It was not until injury time that a Valon Behrami pass sprang the Arsenal offside trap and Diamanti slotted his slow shot through the hands of Lukasz Fabianski.

The summer signing from Livorno can be a frustratingly selfish but he has wonderful technique and was outstanding in a West Ham side giving a debut to Swiss defender Fabio Daprela and a first start to striker Frank Nouble.

Behrami and Radoslav Kovac were also tireless in a midfield lacking the injured Scott Parker. Only Fabianski’s spectacular save denied Junior Stanislas a crucial second goal.

But the replacement of Jack Wilshere and Fran Merida after 65 minutes changed the game. Green needed to produce a brave double save from Diaby and then Alex Song seven minutes later.

But the England keeper was helpless when Ramsey rammed home a left-foot shot after a deflection ran into his path after 78 minutes.

And Eduardo scored his third goal in four games after 83 minutes when he rose above Matthew Upson to loop a header from the penalty spot into the top corner beyond Green’s despairing dive from Vela’s cross.

As West Ham collapsed, Eduardo and Vela had chances to increase the lead in the final minutes but it would have been unjust.

Zola said: “It was very close but I am pleased with the performance of the team. I couldn’t ask for anything more. We gave everything. The difference was that in the first 15 minutes of the second half, we had so many opportunities but we didn’t manage to close the game down. When they brought on those two players, they changed gear.”

While West Ham will look to avoid selling players, Wenger claimed this transfer window will al depend on the spending habits of Manchester City and Chelsea.

“If they buy from English clubs, the market will be busy,” he reasoned.

“If they don’t buy from English clubs, the market will be very quiet because there is not a lot of money around. I have the money, the desire but not the player.”

[+/-]

Arsenal move for Brazil teen  

Friday, 1 January 2010

Arsenal have agreed a £3.5million deal for 16-year-old Brazil forward Wellington Silva, according to the player's agent.

The Gunners have tracked the Fluminense teenager after he impressed during a trial.

The player's agent, Rodrigo Pitta, told the Daily Mail: "We completed the transaction last week, the player is already Arsenal's and Fluminense have already received some money."

Arsenal have yet to comment on any deal.

Wellington cannot join up with Arsene Wenger's side until he turns 18 next year but Arsenal are believed to have paid 65 per cent of the fee up front, with the rest to follow when he arrives at Emirates.

The Brazil youth international is considered one of the most promising players of his age group in Brazil.

Manchester United, Chelsea, Atletico and Real Madrid have all been linked with the player, but Arsenal's long courtship appears to have paid off.

[+/-]


Design by www.typegoalz.com