By Arsenal correspondent Tony Hughes
Arsenal need a prolific goalscorer in the mould of Karim Benzema, Petr Cech is not flawless and other things we learned from Arsenal’s shock Premier League defeat to West Ham.
Arsenal need to push boat out for Benzema
If Arsene Wenger was not already convinced of the need to push the boat out to sign Karim Benzema, then this flat attacking performance may have finally made his mind up. Olivier Giroud got the nod to spearhead the attack ahead of Theo Walcott but had a day to forget as he struggled to escape from the pocket of Winston Reid. Walcott later joined his fellow forward to form a two-pronged strike force as Arsenal tried to pull two goals back in the last half-hour but neither player got much joy against West Ham’s solid backline. Giroud, Walcott and Danny Welbeck are fine players but none could be classified as a prolific goalscorer, a category that is far more appropriate for Benzema. The opportunity is there for Arsenal to beef up their attack and recruit a player that could be a game-changer as they attempt to end their 11-year Premier League title drought.
Cech can be the difference
As befitting the outstanding Premier League goalkeeper of the last decade, Petr Cech has been hailed as one of the finest signings of the summer. He certainly made the difference on his Arsenal league debut. But not in the way that Gooners would have imagined as the £11million new boy was at fault for both of West Ham’s goals. His poor decision gifted Cheikhou Kouyate the deadlock-breaker just before half-time and the former Chelsea man was then beaten at his near post by a long-range shot from Mauro Zarate that was hardly in the ‘piledriver’ category. It represents an inauspicious start to his Arsenal career for Cech but he has the experience and mental strength to recover from it.
West Ham are perfectly primed for a strong start
This was West Ham’s seventh competitive match of the season and it showed. Where Arsenal appeared flat and laboured, the visitors were full of zest and running. This was not a fluky smash ‘n grab. It was a well deserved and perfectly executed away win that justified Slaven Bilic’s decision to rest his big guns in midweek as the Hammers exited the Europa League. West Ham defended with composure and awareness, were controlled in midfield and attacked with pace and panache. They looked ready and far more advanced in their preparation. Dimitri Payet, the club’s most expensive summer signing, especially caught the eye with his skill and touch on a memorable day for the claret-and-blue brigade.
Cazorla is more effective in the centre
Santi Cazorla’s central midfield partnership with Francis Coquelin in the second half of last season was the bedrock of Arsenal’s renaissance. It was a surprise that Arsene Wenger chose to break what did not need fixing and shifted Cazorla to the left of midfield in the last two matches to accommodate Aaron Ramsey inside. It means the technically excellent Spaniard does not get on the ball as much, or as many opportunities to set the tempo of the game. It was noticeable how the Gunners were more effective when he switched inside in the final stages.
Reece Oxford is a terrific prospect
It was a courageous decision from Bilic to start with Oxford in central midfield and the 16-year-old responded with a performance that belied his 16 years. Astonishingly, his pass completion rate of 95 per cent was the highest of all the players on the pitch, which is a measure of the composure and maturity of his performance. Oxford is a footballer with a tremendous future in front of him.