West Ham surrender lead as Arsenal storm back into the top four
21:38 15 April 2014
Hammers winger Matt Jarvis heads them in front but they cannot withstand the Arsenal fightback at the Emirates
Arsenal 3 West Ham United 1
West Ham were made to pay for poor defensive mistakes as they surrendered the lead at the Emirates for the second season running to slip to defeat against Arsenal.
The FA Cup finalists had looked nervous in front of their own fans, but a vital equaliser just before half time allowed them to settle in the second half and they added two more goals to thoroughly deserve the three points that keeps them in the hunt for that coveted Champions League place for next season.
Hammers manager Sam Allardyce made two changes with Antonio Nocerino given his chance in midfield at the expense of injured skipper Kevin Nolan, while Matt Jarvis was restored to the wing with Mo Diame reverting to the middle at the expense of Matt Taylor.
West Ham, boosted by their battling display in defeat against leaders Liverpool last week, started brightly and Mo Diame almost picked out the head of Andy Carroll in the first few minutes only for Per Mertesacker to head clear.
Arsenal started shakily with the rigours of their FA Cup semi-final penalty shoot out win perhaps still in their legs, but gradually they began to dominate possession with Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky lively in midfield, before Kim Kallstrom almost picked out Oliver Giroud with a low cross that just eluded the Arsenal striker’s outstretched boot.
Jarvis forced a corner with a fine run and cross, while from the resulting flag kick, the ball was put back into Diame who somehow lifted his shot high over the bar from just six yards out.
On the half hour came the best chance so far. Mark Noble was wayward with a pass and when Cazorla threaded a superb ball through for Giroud he had just Adrian to beat. He didn’t manage it, his tame shot was palmed away and quickly cleared to safety by the Hammers.
That chance seemed to signal a period of pressure for the Gunners as they pinned West Ham in their own half and only the interceptions of first James Tomkins and then Noble prevented the home side from getting in again.
Arsenal’s one-touch football was causing West Ham some problems in and around the box, but they stood firm and finally cut the shackles to twice make rapid breakis, only to be let down by some poor crossing.
But then on 41 minutes, West Ham made an unexpected breakthrough. Guy Demel found Nocerino in the box and after his shot was saved by Wojcieh Szczesny, the Italian got in again and teed up Jarvis to head into the net.
Cazorla looked to reply immediately with a shot that stung the hands of the West Ham keeper, but right on half time they did equalise when Mikel Arteta found Lukas Podolski in the box and his left foot shot flew low into the corner.
Last season’s clash between the two at the Emirates had seen West Ham take the lead and go on to lose 5-1 and they were keen to make sure that didn’t happen again as the teams went in at the break all square.
west Ham went back on to the front foot at the start of the second half with both Stewart Downing and then Diame having shots off target as they looked to restore their lead.
But with almost their first attack of the second half, Arsenal grabbed the lead. A corner was poorly cleared by Diame and when the ball was lifed back into the box, Giroud outmuscled Carroll and buried it from close range.
Podolski nearly added to that tally with a free kick which forced a good save from Adrian and though West Ham, before Cazorla’s swinging shot flew inches wide of the post and substitute Aaron Ramsey fired well over.
At the other end, Carroll nodded a couple of tame efforts wide of the mark, but it was Arsenal who looked he more likely and with 12 minutes left they put the game out of reach when Podolski smashed a shot into the roof of the net.
Allardyce brought on Ricardo Vaz Te and Joe Cole for wingers Jarvis and Downing, but there was never any way back from there for the Hammers, who in the end were comfortably beaten.
Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Rosicky (Ramsey, 73), Arteta, Podolski, Giroud, Cazorla (Jenkinson 87), Kallstrom. Unused subs: Oxlade-Chamberlain, Fabianski, Sanogo, Akpom, Bellerin.
West Ham: Adrian, Demel, Armero, Tomkins, Reid, Noble, Diame, Nocerino, Downing (Cole J 79), Jarvis (Vaz Te, 79), Carroll (Cole C 84). Subs: Jaaskelainen, McCartney, Taylor, Johnson.
Booked: Arsenal: Rosicky, Kallstrom. West Ham: Nocerino, Diame
Referee: Kevin Friend