3 Talking Points From West Ham 1-2 Arsenal: Santi Christmas For The Gunners

Goals from Santi Cazorla and Danny Welbeck were enough for Arsenal, as they saw off a spirited fight back from the Hammers to win 2-1 at Upton Park. The home side had a goal disallowed just before Cazorla opened the scoring in the 41st minute. Welbeck scored his fourth League goal of the season and doubled the lead two minutes later.

Cazorla
Cazorla

The home side pulled one back in the second half thanks a goal from Cheik Kouyate but that wasn’t enough as the visitors held on to climb past West Ham into fifth place. Here are the major talking points from the game.

Fantastic Festive football

With many managers criticizing the fixture list and questioning the need to play two games in two days, this game was an indication of just why the fans love the festive period. Although West Ham were unbeaten in their last seven matches at home, they had lost their last six games against the Gunners and were looking to bounce back from a defeat to Chelsea on Friday.

If either side was tired after playing just 48 hours earlier, it certainly wasn’t visible as both sides went at each other in what was a thoroughly entertaining game. While the first half saw a bit of controversy coupled with goals, the second was a great advert for the Premier League. While the home side penned Arsenal back and created all sorts of problems in the air, the visitor’s pace on the break, meant that they too had plenty of good opportunities to extend their lead. And although the Gunners hung on, it could so easily have ended in a draw had Enner Valencia kept his header down in the final minute of the game.

Battle of the keepers

Although both sides dominated the game in attacking sense at different times, it was the two goalkeepers who came out on top. While there has plenty of criticism laid at Arsenal’s defenders, Wojciech Szczesny has been a model of consistency so far. Against West Ham, although he didn’t have too many saves to make, his command of his area bailed his defenders out on several occasions. So good was the Polish shot-stopper at coming off his line and clearing the ball that he forced the home side to try something different at set-pieces, the one area many thought the Gunners would struggle with the most.

At the other end, Adrian had one of his best performances in a West Ham shirt as his catalogue of saves simply got better and better. While all the plaudits have gone to the likes of David De Gea and Thibaut Courtois, Adrian has quietly established himself as one of the top keepers in the League and it was thanks to him that the game was so close right till the very end. The Spanish shot-stopper was in sublime form as stopped wave after wave of Gunners counter-attack and almost capped his performance with goal as he went up front in search of an equalizer in the final few minutes.

Santi Christmas for Arsenal

Earlier in the season, there were question marks raised over Santi Cazorla’s place in the squad. At that time, he¬†was doing himself no favors as he consistently fluffed his lines and failed to produce the spark that characterized his play. But ever since breaking his scoring duck with a penalty against Stoke, the Spaniard has come to life and has been a key component of the Gunners as they have now won three of the last four games.

Although he scored the opening goal, it was in the second half that Cazorla showed his true value to the side. With the defense under constant pressure, the Gunners needed someone with the composure to take the ball off them and give it to the attackers. Cazorla was that man as his intelligence and ability to pick out his teammate meant that the visitors were able to transform defense into attack rapidly. Although they were holding on towards the end, the 30-year-old gave the defense an outlet throughout the game and ensured that the Gunners enjoy a fabulous festive period and end their year on a high.