Arsenal Vs West Ham United: Highlights and analysis – Are you still awake?

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 19: Danny Welbeck of Arsenal (R) celebrates as he scores their first goal with team mate Olivier Giroud during the Carabao Cup Quarter-Final match between Arsenal and West Ham United at Emirates Stadium on December 19, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 19: Danny Welbeck of Arsenal (R) celebrates as he scores their first goal with team mate Olivier Giroud during the Carabao Cup Quarter-Final match between Arsenal and West Ham United at Emirates Stadium on December 19, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images) /

Arsenal hosted West Ham United in the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup on Tuesday night. Here is the full recap, all the highlights and analysis from the 1-0 win.

It’s the win that matters. For those of you that had to watch that utter tripe, then I apologise. On football’s behalf, I am sorry. Arsenal may have been the victors on Tuesday night, overcoming West Ham United 1-0 thanks to a Danny Welbeck goal that may be the most Danny Welbeck goal you will ever see. But they hardly deserved. Arsene Wenger will be a happy man. Into the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup his team goes, and still, not one of his established Premier League stars has been called upon. All in all, a boring but successful evening for the Gunners.

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I’ll give you a peek into the general structure of these pieces. Usually, I wait for a major event to take place before I begin writing. That way, I have been able to watch the opening few stanzas of play in detailing, noting the general patterns of play, the sharpness of individual players, and any tactical nuances that may be significant. Then, I can simultaneously delineate any substantial happenings and comment on the rhythm of the match. After 30 minutes, I thought it wise to start writing, with or without such a key part of the match.

That epitomises the boredom that this game incited. At the half-hour mark, there had been just one shot. It was blocked. The game was littered with loose passes, mistaken touches, boring, aimless passing. There was a stark and utter lack of quality. It was painful to witness. Arsenal were in control of the game. But to say that they were the better team would be to assume that they actually did something. It wasn’t until the 37th minute that they did.

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Sead Kolasinac, who surprisingly started, perhaps with Wenger wanting to rest Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Nacho Monreal for Friday evening’s match against Liverpool, was released down the left flank. With time to pick his pass, he exploited the near post run of Olivier Giroud to float a lovely, precise cross to the far post. Theo Walcott was there. His diving header, though, was ugly, put wide of the post from which the cross came. Walcott should have done better. He knew it, as well.

Thankfully for Arsenal, they were able to end the half with a goal, which was surprising given the utter anonymity of their play up until that point. Francis Coquelin clipped an angled through pass onto the head of Mathieu Debuchy. The Frenchman diverted the ball back into the penalty area, and after a somewhat scrappy and bundled effort, Danny Welbeck was able to score. It was Welbeck living up to his name. It was not what Arsenal deserved. In fact, it was not what the game itself deserved, not that Wenger was complaining.

Given the knockout nature of the competition, the performance has little bearing on the season, especially given that many of these players will not regularly feature in the Premier League barring injuries and suspensions. The win is all that matters and the Gunners led by one goal at the break. A good, if boring, first 45 minutes for the home side.

The second half continued the subdued feel. I would love to write about creative, attacking play, quick incisive passing, sharp, pacy dribbling. But there wasn’t any. Theo Walcott, for example, just dribbled the ball straight out of play at one point. That was symptomatic of the lack of quality that littered the match. Aaron Cresswell did flash a freekick across David Ospina’s goal, not that the Colombian was ever concerned, and David Moyes introduced Arsenal antagoniser Andy Carroll just past the hour-mark, with the hulking striker immediately easing his body into Francis Coquelin as they challenged for an aerial ball, making his presence immediately known.

Very, very little happened in the second half also. In fact, it was, somehow, even less exciting than the first half, which is really saying something. Joe Hart picked up a yellow card for clipping Danny Welbeck as the two raced towards a lofted pass into the channel. But Mohamed Elneny’s low, driven free-kick, which was marginally outside the penalty area, was steered behind the goal and the corner cleared.

Two moments of worry were when Olivier Giroud pulled a hamstring and Francis Coquelin later suffered an injury. Giroud had to come off immediately and, given the nature of the injury, it is likely that he will miss the whole of the festive period, something that is quite concerning given the congestion of the fixtures, while Coquelin, although is less involved in the Premier League, is still a reliable squad player who is trusted by Wenger. Let’s hope neither are facing too long an absence.

West Ham, meanwhile, offered next to nothing on the attack. Their first shot came in the 67th minute, the aforementioned Cresswell free-kick, and the introduction of Andy Carroll yielded no joy whatsoever, with Rob Holding and Calum Chambers dealing with his unique, if a little archaic, threat consummately.

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This win puts Arsenal into the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup and now sets them up to challenge for a competition that they have not won since 1993. Wenger, I believe, will still play a reserve side. But this is an opportunity to guarantee a trophy by February. That is not something to sniff your noses up at. Wenger should take this seriously. It could yield great value.