In the end justice was done but the officials made this one hell of a lot harder than it should have been. We were cruising a goal up and a second appeared almost an inevitability. Then the key moment came, a hopeful punt through saw Vermaelen ahead in a chase with Franco, the two players were shoulder to shoulder. Of note the linesman was in no position to call it as he was perpendicular to the line of their runs, the referee Atkinson was in an even poorer position about forty yards from the incident, so even if Vermaelen had fouled Franco there was no way that they could have been sure of their decision, there was no way they could justify a red card, yet this is precisely what happened, utter utter incompetence demonstrating a complete lack of insight and understanding from the officials.
Vermaelen had his eyes on the ball throughout, Franco was never actually playing the ball or in control of it, Vermaelen also won the ball fairly, Franco knew he was never going to get onto it and played the situation by throwing himself down in theatrical fashion, never a penalty and certainly not a foul. When one sees this in context of West Ham salvaging a completely undeserved point at Upton Park thanks to a blatant Carlton Cole dive, it shows just how ridiculously keen referees are to give things against Arsenal these days, the way this happens week in week out suggests that this is more than mere coincidence.
Anyway thanks to the character and skill of the players we didn't let this refereeing howler put us off. Manuel's outstanding penalty save was key, it kept our momentum up, still a lot of credit must go t the outfield players who played the second half with only ten men but looked by far the better side despite this numerical disadvantage. Song slotted in well at centre back, Campbell was aggressive and robust as always, while teh full backs were excellent both defensively and offensively, Eboue seemed turbo charged throughout. Denilson had an excellent game, very useful with the ball and efficient, Diaby came on to great effect, Cesc worked hard for the team and provided some good attacking moments. Arshavin worked really hard but was a tad erratic, Nasri put a lot of work in and was dangerous at times, Bendtner did ok but had to be sacrificed as a result of Vermaelen's premature departure. Our general play was crisp and sharp, the ball was fizzed around beautifully at times and West Ham just couldn't cope with it for the most part.
Overall coming away with three points showed how we have developed in the last few months. Apart from the one bit of Cole skill, West Ham never looked like scoring, even when they had more possession we defended solidly as a unit and didn't afford them the time and space with which to do damage. There was a new found fight and resilience on show, we were not to be moved, the three points were wanted by all of our players and they would not be relinquished, no matter what the incompetent officials did. The spirit is growing, as is the belief in the squad, and if we can keep fighting as hard for every three points anything might happen. We must for every three points as if they are to be our last.