The internet was sent spiralling into meltdown on Saturday in the wake of Arsenal’s 3-3 draw at Upton Park, with the Gunners having surrendered a two-goal lead before salvaging a point.
From pundits to former players – and right down to the humble fan – everybody was having their say as the last shred of title-winning hope was doused in petrol and burned into ash.
Here we take a look at some of the view points offered on social media, as well as summarising the reaction post match:
How I saw it
In the week leading up to the match, I wrote at length about how difficult it would be to get a result at Upton Park. I knew it was going to be a tough ask to come away with three points, but it was certainly not impossible.
The team had found a new balance in Coquelin and Elneny, a new star in Alex Iwobi, and the beginnings of some genuine momentum and belief having won the last two games convincingly.
So when we went two goals ahead midway through the first half, I started to believe myself.
It’s a trick that Arsenal sides under Arsene Wenger have played all too often over the years, and I fall for it every time.
A few days before the match, I wrote a piece about Per Mertesacker and why I felt he still had a future at the club (you can find it here).
In it, I discussed how I thought the German’s role at the club might change in the next year but that he shouldn’t yet be written off because:
“for me, Gabriel remains a little raw”.
Unfortunately, that proved all-too accurate against West Ham as the Brazilian came up short against the bullying of Andy Carroll.
And look, as much as Carroll annoys me, he can scarcely be blamed for doing what he does best. He puts himself about, he heads the ball, he makes himself a nuisance.
That the Arsenal defence had no way of dealing with him, particularly Gabriel, is the most annoying thing of it all and indisputably the reason why we didn’t win.
That’s not to say that Per would have done any better against Carroll, or that he may not have been exposed in other ways, it just seems that West Ham were set up to play in one way, and that we simply failed to make provision for that threat. We just continued with the plan hatched before we knew Carroll was in the team.
And a quick word on game management – a point that has been raised a million times and more in recent years. Think last season at the Emirates, when we at last pulled a goal back against Monaco, giving ourselves a chance in the second leg at 2-1.
Instead of smartly re-assessing our priorities and keeping things tight, we went in search of a ludicrous last-minute equaliser which resulted in Monaco adding a decisive third goal.
The same happened again yesterday. Okay, West Ham scored a well-worked goal – a great cross, a great header – sometimes it happens. But why didn’t the word go out to just keep hold of the ball? Run the clock down passing across the pitch so we can go in with a lead and regroup.
Instead we charged upfield in search of more goals, promptly gave the ball away and, laughably, conceded a second. The decision making was very, very poor – and it’s not the first time.
In the context of the whole season, it was a good result against a team enjoying its best run for a generation. But in the context of the game, it was a calamitous waste of three points.
Nobody minds if the team comes up short having given the best possible account of themselves – think the game against Barcelona – but they simply didn’t do that. They made simple, predictable, and repetitious mistakes that drive fans to distraction.
Whatever you believe about Arsene Wenger, you have to ask: Is that consistent panic and loss of focus in mid-game the fault of the players, or the manager?
Arsene’s view of it
Here’s how Arsene felt his side performed, and where the result leaves our season:
“We were [in control],” Wenger told Arsenal Player. “There are always a lot of positives. Overall, you can say it is not a bad result to draw here, but in the context of the league, where we are and what we want to achieve, it is a very bad result for us.
“I wanted to win the game. In the end we had the opportunities to score a fourth goal, but we were not calm enough. I think we rushed our game in the box and that is disappointing.
“One or two times on the counter-attack the pass didn’t come quickly enough out of the feet and that is why we missed.”
Carroll was the scourge of Arsenal – his first two goals came just 160 seconds apart – and Wenger thinks his team should have handled him better.
“We should have made life a bit more difficult for him. On the first, second and third goal, we were a bit naive defensively.”