There was no way that 7:45 was happening again (for roughly the 10,000th time this season - seriously, who did the east coast of the US piss off in the Premier League?), so I recorded this one. At 1-2, I started fast-forwarding. I've seen this movie before.
Also, before any of you lot give me shit for leaning on the FF button, I thought I had somewhere to be at noon today, only to find out it's actually next week. So, you can see the kind of day I'm having.
Anyway, while we generally bossed the proceedings up until they pegged us back to 1-2, let's not forget that the entire complexion of the match may have changed had they not had a perfectly good goal chalked off for a phantom offside inside of the first 10 minutes. Look at the replay again, Hector Bellerin was playing everyone onside.
We also may have been a bit fortunate on our first one, too. When Mesut Ozil was played in by the again-excellent Alex Iwobi, he may or may not have been fractionally offside. I couldn't tell even on the replay, but the flag stayed down and Mesut finished well past Adrián.
The Nigerian was in the thick of it again for the second, this time scooping a pass over West Ham's backline and into the path of Alexis Sanchez. The Chilean, after a horrendous dry spell, now has two goals in two games as he easily beat the keeper.
Again, up until the 44th minute, everything was ticking along nicely after the gift of that goal being chalked off. Mohamed Elneny was dictating play in the center of the park, was Danny Welbeck's runs were causing chaos in a West Ham team trying to adjust to a new 3-4-3 formation. They didn't look comfortable and Arsenal were turning the screw.
But, as ever with this team any time they get any kind of comfortable lead, they switched off in the assumption that the game was already won. It is utterly astonishing how often this happens to us - or, it would be if I were at all still capable of astonishment with this lot. And, I don't know how many times I've said it, goals right at the beginning or the end of a half are absolute killers.
The first was bad enough, though it was mainly down to our continued inability to cut out crosses than anything else. I swear, one day someone is going to find me in a room with a typewriter like Jack Nicholson in The Shining, and the paper's just going to say "Fullbacks too narrow. Fullbacks too narrow. Fullbacks too narrow. Fullbacks too narrow." over and over again. Once the cross came in, it was just a matter of a guy who is exceptional at heading the ball exceptionally heading a ball.
Losing a goal there is tough, but you CAN'T lose another to get it all the way back to 2-2 before the halftime whistle goes. You shut up shop, get back into the locker room, and compose yourselves. But, you know, this is Arsenal. A corner was punched out well by David Ospina, but the Arsenal defense couldn't come back out fast enough to prevent the second ball coming back in. Still, even when Carroll took the first shot, we were fine. Gabriel - aka The Worst Arsenal Player of the Last 20 Years - could have easily cleared it. He didn't, allowing Carroll to volley it back in. Even still, we were fine. All Ospina had to do was shout "leave it", and that goes into his hands. Instead, Gabriel stuck his face out and deflected it into the net. I suspect the dubious-goals panel will eventually change that to an OG, but either way the collapse was complete.
Oh, wait, no it wasn't. Slaven Bilic changed Emmanuel Emineke for James Tomkins at halftime, putting them into a more familiar 4-2-3-1. They looked more comfortable, though apparently Carroll might have seen a second yellow for an elbow on Gabriel. I didn't see the incident myself, but it reads to me like something we'd have been furious to see given to any of our guys.
Either way, there was no excuse for their third goal, either. Monreal got torched to allow a cross in (FULLBACKS TOO NARROW. FULLBACKS TOO NARROW. FULLBACKS TOO NARROW.), and Carroll got up there to thump it into the net. So simple. So preventable.
Arsene threw on Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud, but it was Laurent Koscielny who had to save the day. Not only did he have to play center-half with THAT, but he popped up to give us a most unlikely equalizer. It was a bit lucky in the end, as Ozil's cross clanked off of Welbeck and into his path. But, Koscielny rasped it in past Adrian like any good predatory center-forward. What a finish, and what an important point this may end up being.
You know the drill from here, we started bombing men forward in a showy but utterly futile display of force to try and win the game. West Ham defended comfortably though, and in fact they had the better chances. But, just to make this Peak Arsenal, Sanchez did cut into the area once with plenty of time to shoot, but he over-elaborated and had it nicked off of him. Of course.
So, two big points dropped then. Sure, this was one of our toughest fixtures left and we did end up getting a point off it in the end. However, from 2-0 up, this result is simply not good enough. I don't want to hear a thing about mental goddamn strength...it's like...dammit, I'm too angry to think of a metaphor right now. To quote Sterling Archer, "I HAD something for this."
The title is long gone...we knew that already, but we've got to start worrying about St. Totteringham's Day now. If they beat United, I have to seriously think that may be gone, too.
Man of the Match: Gabriel was probably West Ham's best player, but we'll give it to Andy Carroll for the (probably) two goals.
Sean Swift is a staff writer for the Modern Gooner, a board member of Arsenal NYC, and Lana....Lana....LAAAAAAAAAAANNNNAAAAAAAAA!