It has been over seven years since Arsenal have won silverware, a few Emirates Cup’s aside. That is seven years too long for a club of their size and stature in the English game. Since Patrick Vieria lifted the FA Cup in 2005 and swiftly departed, there has been very little for Arsenal fans to shout about. The Champions League final in 2006 against Barcelona was something very big for the Gunners fans to shout about but ultimately it ended in failure and now seems a distant memory.
Their style of the play that they meticulously follow still dazzles the Barclays Premier League audiences. They receive plaudits from all over the globe and the ‘English Barcelona’ have shown no sign of changing THEIR way of playing the beautiful game. Wenger must find a winning formula however, the kind of winning formula that Barcelona have found. And I am sure I speak on behalf of all Arsenal fans when I say it must be sooner, rather than later.
The current crop of players that Arsene Wenger has at his disposal have already shown very promising signs this season that they could end their silverware drought. The majestic Santi Cazorla has taken to the English game like a duck to water with a series of match winning displays. The Spaniard was brought in to fill the void left from the previous summer by his compatriot, Cesc Fabregas, and has so looked like a fantastic replacement.
The German forward, Lukas Podolski has shown signs of becoming a real cult hero at the Emirates since his move in the summer, claiming he wants to place an Arsenal tattoo on his arm. Some commitment. He has also chipped in with two goals as well as producing some eye catching performances. Replacing Robin Van Persie was always going to prove to be a diffi cult task and the French international, Olivier Giroud, has struggled thus far to succeed in RVP’s footsteps. However, as Arsenal fans will tell you, RVP struggled to begin with. As did the king. Thierry Henry.
The sheer abundance of English talent at the club has also dramatically increased in recent years at the club. Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, Carl Jenkinson, Kieran Gibbs and the soon to be returning, Jack Wilshere all possess bags of potential for both club and country. The departures of key players such as Emmanuel Adebayor, Samir Nasri, Cesc Fabregas and most recently, Robin Van Persie in recent years has seen Arsenal labelled as a ‘selling club’. Their fi nances speak for themselves and with a state of the art stadium to boot, everything is in place. The home faithful may just be rewarded for their patience with both the board and the manager come next May.
Since two stalemates at the beginning of the season against Stoke and Sunderland respectively, Arsenal’s apparent goal drought has disappeared and they have now surged up the table. Following a 2-0 win away at Anfi eld, Wenger’s men have gone on to dismantle Southampton 6-1 and draw against the champions at the Etihad.
Arsenal are unbeaten against West Ham in their previous eight meetings with an impressive string of victories both home and away. The Hammers last victory against the Gooners was way back in 2007. It happened to be Arsenal’s first defeat at their new home, The Emirates stadium, with Bobby Zamora grabbing the only goal.
Perhaps the most memorable encounter between the sides in recent years occurred on the 5th November, 2006. A 90th minute winner from Marlon Harewood gave the Hammers the three points that day but it was what happened shortly after that goal that captured the headlines. Pardew and Wenger sprung into life with a battle of handbags spurring into life as Wenger disputed just about everything about the goal. Including Pardew’s overzealous celebrations. Wenger was later charged for his actions and the two haven’t seen eye to eye since.
The most recent encounter between the two sides was in January 2011 at Upton Park with Arsenal running away with a 3-0 victory. Not only did, Wayne Bridge have one of the worst debuts in football history, West Ham were truly outclassed yet again by their counterparts. The game was also dubbed as the then West Ham manager, Avram Grant’s, last game as manager. Bookmakers stopped taking bets on the next manager at the Boleyn as rumours surfaced that Martin O’Neil was about to take over the helm. This proved not to be the case. Avram gave the fans a brief farewell, only to return the following week and guide us to relegation. Oh how we do miss you Avram.
Apart from the Wigan game in the Capital One cup, Sam’s men have looked very hard to beat at home this season. The fortress that once was Upton Park, appears to be re-emerging. One positive in particular has been the strength in depth that the squad has. At the time of writing, Andy Carroll’s return is not yet known but if he is fi t once the Arsenal game comes then he could have a big say on the outcome. The clash of styles of play will be interesting. An ugly win against the beautiful football would be perfect. My heart says a 2-0 win but I shall be realistic and go for a 1-1 draw.