Sunday, 7 October 2012
West Ham United 1 Arsenal 3- match report
An intriguing encounter, representative of all that is good about the Premier League, ended in defeat for Big Sam's boys yesterday at the Boleyn Ground, as an Olivier Giroud strike cancelled out Mohammed Diame's excellent opener for the Irons, before goals from Theo Walcott and Santi Cazorla turned the game round for Arsenal.
In front of a sell-out crowd in East London- the Hammers' first for 19 months- Arsenal took control of the early proceedings and were thwarted on more than one occasion in the first quarter of the game by some last ditch West Ham defending and the considerable physical defending presence of striker Andy Carroll, on his return from injury. As with their 2-1 defeat at the Emirates to Chelsea the previous week, Arsenal dominated possession. Chances were few and far between for the Irons and largely came in the form of breaks away down the flanks by Matt Jarvis and Ricardo Vaz Te. It was from one of these breaks that the ball fell to midfield lynchpin Momo Diame on the left flank, about 25 yards from the Arsenal goal. Taking on the North London rearguard, the Senegal international opened up his body, but as the home support rose to their feet expecting a ball to the back post, Diame had other ideas and tucked a perfectly weighted shot into the bottom corner of the net.
The goal seemed to shock the visitors, and while West Ham attempted to use their lead to generate some momentum and get control of the game, the Gunners attacked even more ferociously than before, and only some more last-ditch defending, including great work from right-back Guy Demel, impressive against his former employers, preserved the Hammers' lead.
However, the pressure eventually proved too much for the Irons' defence, which eventually caved in as a sloppy giveaway of possession by man of the moment Diame led to yet another Arsenal break, and from Lukas Podolski's cross, Giroud got in front of the sluggish James Collins and opened his Gunners' account with a brave finish as goalkeeper Jaaskelainen came in to challenge.
Half time couldn't come soon enough for the Hammers and whatever Big Sam had said during the interval clearly had an effect as the home side were playing with a new desire, a new drive and were increasingly pushing Arsenal back into their own half, with Carroll causing the Gunners' defence a huge amount of problems in the air. The pressure, much like Arsenal's pressure in the first half, fashioned a number of opportunities, but West Ham couldn't profit, with several players wasting good chances- usually lethal skipper Kevin Nolan being the somewhat surprising worst culprit. Eventually, the Hammers were made to pay for their wastefulness with just under 20 minutes to go as substitute Theo Walcott tucked away a Giroud through ball with Collins again at fault, this time playing the England star onside as the rest of the back four stepped up. Spaniard Cazorla then compounded West Ham's misery with a beauty of a chip which left Jaaskelainen stranded. 3-1 was perhaps an unfair reflection on the Irons, who had enjoyed some dominance in the first 15 minutes of the second half and lost Vaz Te to a suspected dislocated shoulder with 25 minutes to go, but the signs are clear for all to see- West Ham have a long way to go yet before we can compete with the big boys.
WEST HAM: Jaaskelainen; Demel (Tomkins '73), Collins, Reid, McCartney; Vaz Te (Taylor '64), Diame (Cole '82), Noble, Nolan, Jarvis; Carroll.
Booked: Reid, Diame, Taylor.
Sent off: none.
Subs: Henderson, Tomkins, Taylor, Benayoun, O'Neill, Cole, Maiga.
ARSENAL: Mannone; Mertesacker, Vermaelen, Jenkinson, Gibbs (Santos '56); Arteta, Ramsey. Cazorla, Giroud, Gervinho (Walcott '61); Podolski (Koscielny '85).
Subs: Martinez, Koscielny, Santos, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Coquelin, Arshavin.
Booked: Gervinho, Walcott.
Sent off: none.
Attendance: 34, 974.
Report by Alex Shilling